“We are very grateful that the Australian Ambassador responded positively to our invitation. His visit will certainly be a big boost to the province especially in our efforts to project our area as a safe place to travel and invest in,” said Governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes.
Hely’s visit also coincides with the 7th T’nalak Festival.
Aside from Hely, four other foreign ambassadors have signified to join the July 18 festivities. The national leadership will be represented by Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes.
Fuentes said the provincial government chose Hely to lead the opening of the P50 million annex building of the provincial hospital to honor the Australian government’s continuing pouring of assistance to the province’s health sector over the last decade.
In 1997, the province was chosen as one of the six pilot beneficiaries of public health program Integrated Community Health Services Project (ICHSP) that was funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid) and the Asian Development Bank.
AusAid was assigned to finance and assist the province’s health programs that focused mainly on systems development and the strengthening of the management capacity of the provincial and municipal governments.
The program facilitated the creation of a comprehensive health referral system and the clustering of the province’s 10 towns and lone city into five local area health development zones.
Dr. Edgardo Sandig, provincial health officer, earlier said the provincial government will invest an additional P50 million for the purchase of modern medical equipment and the hiring of new personnel for the hospital’s new annex building.
He said the opening of the new annex building and the purchase of new medical equipment would fast track the local government’s bid to upgrade the provincial hospital into a full-fledged tertiary medical institution and eventually into a medical center.
He said the opening of the annex building would increase the provincial hospital’s capacity from the current 150 to 200 beds.
South Cotabato Rep. Arthur Pingoy Jr. had filed a proposed bill at the House of Representatives for the conversion of the provincial hospital into a training and medical center and the upgrading of its bed capacity to 200 beds. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)