The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR) for Aceh and Nias said it expects to finish the third phase of the reconstruction of Gunung Sitoli Hospital by March 2008.

The head of BRR’s Nias office William Sabandar said the hospital, which is the only large health facility in the region, cannot yet fully serve the public.

“The condition of Gunung Sitoli hospital was never optimal, even before the 2005 earthquake hit,” he said Wednesday.

He said people in Nias usually went to Medan in North Sumatra for medical treatment because the hospital was not well equipped.

“If we want to help the Nias people, we need long-term goals, including reconstructing this hospital,” William said.

Nias is 125 kilometers west of Sumatra Island and is part of North Sumatra province.

Before 2003 it was administrated as one regency, but today it has Nias and Southern Nias regencies.

The 8.7 Richter scale earthquake that struck Nias on March 29, 2005 killed almost 1,000 people.

The earthquake was the second biggest in the world since 1964.

The US$5 million reconstruction project of the third phase is funded by the government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation System, a non-profit foundation authorized by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The third phase project includes the construction of wards, an intensive care unit, a pharmacy, a morgue, a laboratory, an image room and clinics.

The reconstruction project is divided into four phases. In the first phase, the project was funded by the non-governmental organization MERCY Malaysia, which succeeded in building maternity and pediatric ward facilities, an administration unit and an operating room.

The second phase, funded by the government of the People’s Republic of China, built wards, a laundry and a kitchen.

For the fourth phase, the BRR is still waiting for donors to build more clinics, an emergency room, and a rehabilitation center.

“The hospital used to have a capacity for 105 beds, but after all phases are completed, we will have 160 beds, some specialized doctors and a disaster management zone,” said Norazama Abu Samsa, the operational head of MERCY Malaysia for Aceh-Nias.

BRR has also provided scholarships for doctors and for some of the best senior high school students from Nias to continue their studies at the University of Indonesia and Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta.

In February 2007, the agency had finished building 9,000 houses, reconstructing 200 kilometers of roads, 70 bridges and a number of irrigation networks.

The island needs about 15,000 new houses and repairs to some 45,000 damaged homes and buildings.

“We’re targeting to finish building 15,000 houses in 2008,” said Mirza Keumala, BRR spokesman.

Mirza said BRR will finish its duty both in Aceh and Nias next year and all projects will be transferred to the respective local administrations.(13)

Source: The Jakarta Post, 30 August 2007

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