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Date: 16/01/2008

The North Santiago Regional Hospital was “invaded” yesterday by hundreds of people who made their way to Achada Falcão, in the municipality of Santa Catarina on the island of Santiago, for the official unveiling of the new health facility. The hospital, which will begin to receive patients at the end of February, cost some 5 million euros and was wholly financed by the government of Luxembourg.

“This hospital is yours,” affirmed Minister of health Basílio Ramos during the official unveiling of the North Santiago Regional Hospital yesterday afternoon. In what appeared a literal interpretation of Ramos’ words, the 400-odd people who gathered in front of the hospital, shedding any pretense of protocol, mixed freely with government ministers, ambassadors and officials, peacefully and curiously entering the new structure to have a look around. Children ran up and down stairwells, bunches of people crowded into the operating rooms, and many tried to catch a glimpse of the laboratory

“We can see satisfaction in the faces of the women and men of Cape Verde at this moment, as we open this hospital,” Prime Minister José Maria Neves declared shortly before opening the hospital’s doors, standing alongside Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, on the small stage set up especially for the ceremony.

Juncker, who appeared to be in a particularly good mood, responded, saying that “together, small countries are bigger than biggest ones.” The Prime Minister of Luxembourg and likely first president of the European Union praised “Cape Verdeans’ will and way of doing things,” and acknowledged that there can be no “tie of solidarity and fraternity between people greater than the construction of a hospital.” The government of Luxembourg, through its cooperation agency Lux Development, executed and financed the 4.717 million-euro project

Following the mandatory speeches and the batuko and funaná performances that are nearly always a part of ribbon-cutting ceremonies on the island of Santiago, the hundreds of curious (and shivering) spectators gathered in Achada Falcão participated in a short religious ceremony presided over by Bishop Paulino Évora, who blessed the new hospital and encouraged doctors, nurses and employees to treat its future patients with “care and faith.”

The North Santiago Regional Hospital occupies an area of 5,500 square meters and encompasses ophthalmology, odontology, pediatrics, maternity, infirmary, gynecology, infectology, radiology and emergency services, and has its own laboratory and operating bloc. Most of the hospital is painted green, but the Emergency Room, for example, is orange. The hospital has a 100-bed capacity, and features a morgue, a laundry room, a kitchen, a maintenance room, an incinerator, its own generators and several garages.

The difference separating the new structure from Assomada Hospital, also in Santa Catarina, is, according to one of the clinicians who will soon be working there, “enormous.” “There were pathologies that we weren’t able to treat in Assomada before because we didn’t have certain equipment, such as X-Ray machines, and we had to send the patients to Praia, but now we can do everything here, from diagnosis to treatment. We’re going to be able to work much better and the patients will be offered a better service,” explains physician Linete Fernandes. The North Santiago Regional Hospital covers six municipalities in the center and north of the island of Santiago, which together account for a population of approximately 90,000 people.

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