Press Release

Ministry of Health & Social Development
Release Date:
Friday, 3 March 2023 - 5:02pm

Minister for Health and Social Development Honourable, Marlon A. Penn says he hopes the repairs made to the community centres across the Territory will help to build resilience and make the Virgin Islands better prepared for any future disaster.

Honourable Penn was addressing the handing over and dedication ceremony for three refurbished community centres – the Valerie O. Thomas Community Centre in Sea Cows Bay, the Gertrude and Christiana Warner Community Centre in Purcell Estate and the Emile Dunlop Community Centre on Anegada.

The renovations were made possible through funding from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the European Union (EU) and will be used as Primary Emergency Shelters for the respective communities. The centres were retrofitted to meet PAHO’s SMART standards.

Honourable Penn said the SMART standards set by PAHO will be applied to locally-funded projects to ensure a consistent level of structural integrity and resilience of these important facilities throughout the Territory.

The Minister for Health said PAHO’s SMART standards will also be applied by his ministry in the rehabilitation of the East End/Long Look Community Centre within the coming months, and the Brewers Bay Community Centre later this year.

“Although those buildings were too extensively damaged to be included under this EU/PAHO project, we will ensure that they too will benefit from SMART concepts as we work to strengthen them to better cope,” the minister said.

Honourable Penn also highlighted that the SMART concept for these community centres under PAHO was also used in the renovation of the Nurse Romalia Smith Clinic on Anegada in 2015 under PAHO’s SMART Healthcare facilities initiative making the facility safer and also incorporating more 'green' interventions.

“We are extremely pleased that these SMART concepts have now been incorporated into Anegada’s Community centre as well – making this facility, and the island as a whole, more resilient to future shocks," he added.

The handing over of the buildings highlights the latest partnership between PAHO and the Government of the Virgin Islands. In November 2021, the West End Community Centre was renovated and retrofitted with modern technology and equipment to ensure the Territory is ready for any crisis of any scale in the future.

The Ministry of Health and Social Development remains committed to retrofitting and renovating the community centres impacted by the 2017 hurricanes to meet modern standards for operation as they remain primary emergency shelters during times of disaster.


Fitsroy Randall

Information Officer I
Ministry of Health and Social Development
Vornicia's House of Commerce, Long Bush
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
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