by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- Ark Peace made its first visit to Grenada in 2015
- Over 8,000 Grenadians received medical services and procedures free of charge
- Positive impact created by the ship’s visit to Grenada’s health sector system
Grenada was privileged to welcome for the second time in 3 years, the PLA Navy’s hospital ship Ark Peace which docked at the Melville Street Cruise Terminal at around 9:40 am on Tuesday.
The vessel’s crew was greeted with a warm reception of Chinese Drumming and Dragon Dance, coupled with displays of traditional Chinese martial arts and wellwishers waving flags of both the People’s Republic of China and Grenada.
Several government officials including Health Minister Nickolas Steele and Minister for Foreign Affairs Peter David as well with Acting Commissioner of Police Edvin Martin along with several high-ranking police officers greeted the crew aboard the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s ship (Hull 866). This visit marks the latest stop as part of the 11-nation “Mission Harmony” tour announced in June.
In 2015, the Peace Ark made its first visit to Grenada which saw over 8,000 Grenadians receiving basic and advanced medical services and procedures free of charge. “The visit of this time is just like a reunion of old acquaintances. We are so delighted. In the following days, we will deepen our mutual understanding and expand our cooperation by providing medical service, sending an outreach team to communities and outlying island, holding academic exchange, to carry forward our friendship and make more achievements. We want to use our down-to-earth medical service to strengthen the feeling of achievements and the rewarding of the local people and promote our bilateral relationship,” said HE Dr Zhao Yongchen, Chinese Ambassador to Grenada.
“We are very much aware in Grenada that while it is an honour and a rare occasion to have a visit from the Ark Peace, it is an extremely greater honour and rare thing to have a second visit in 3 years,” said Minister Steele.
The health minister also said that the positive impact created by the ship’s visit to Grenada’s health sector system cannot be ignored. “We cannot measure the difference that was made with respect to just simple check-ups, the lives that may have been saved that will go on for generations to leave a mark from the relations with our 2 countries. What is even more significant is that this milestone is marked and measured by the visit of a vessel from the People’s Liberation Army, and is a testament to what can be done when state resources are used for the benefit of people. It is a testament to what can be achieved when we all focus on what’s most important.”
Minister David commended the People’s Republic of China for assisting in regional development especially in the area of health through the visit of the Ark Peace. “The Ark Peace is coming to deliver health care, and that is what we want to see in the Caribbean that as we declare our region a zone of peace, our cooperation must be in areas that assist in our development. I want to say to the crew members of the Ark Peace that we welcome you to Grenada and to the People’s Republic of China that we are gratified that over 8,000 people received medical care on the ship during the last visit and I know that this time we will also have many thousands of Grenadians visiting.”
The Ark Peace is the first purpose-built hospital ship with 300 sickbeds, and a staff of 398 medical and support personnel. They include neurologists, surgeons, radiologists, dermatologists, biomedical engineers, and psychologists. Other facilities are a rescue helicopter, 32 medical departments including Chinese herbal medicine, 5 doctors’ offices, 2 nursing offices, 8 nursing stations and 8 surgery rooms, 20 nursing wards, 108 in serious wounds wards, 67 burn wards, 94 in-ordinary wards and 10 isolation wards and a wide range of diagnostic medical equipment totalling 2414.
The year marks the 10th year of the Ark Peace joining the PLA Navy. To date, it has visited 37 countries where the doctors onboard have provided humanitarian medical service for more than 180,000 people.
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