Negligence and cheap politics: H1N1 outbreak in Trinidad and Tobago

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Dear Sir:

Minister for Health, Terrence Deyalsingh is engaging cheap politics and abdicating his responsibilities to citizens’ lives with respect to the H1N1 (Swine) flu outbreak.

While there have been at least three deaths as a result of the highly contagious flu and intensive care units at private and public health institutions filled with patients affected with either the H1N1 or the H3N2 virus, Deyalsingh politicized the crisis on an election platform and also cowardly criticized hard-working public officers.

He claimed that official statistics of H1N1- related deaths were covered up during the tenure of the previous administration, which is a blatant attack on public officers, who collate and publicize such figures. His bungling of the H1N1 crisis is similar to his tardy and weak response to the preceding Zika outbreak, during which four people died and the lives of thousands of nationals were imperiled.

While the incompetent minister used the H1N1 crisis for cheap electioneering, the lives of thousands of students and adults are at risk, because of the high danger of viral infection.

Deyalsingh has opted for an outrageous blame game instead of mounting a massive “dos-and-don’ts” education campaign aimed at preventing the spread of the infectious and grave influenza.

The campaign should focus on early detection, with infected students being advised to stay away from classes and adults being alerted on what should be done. The education programme must also distinguish the symptoms between H1N1 and the common cold and other viral influenzas.

During the medical emergency, the ministry of health has ordered a limited supply of vaccines, reportedly due to arrive at the end of the week. The minister is also guilty of an inadequate collection of relevant data by both the public and private health sectors.

Emergency departments and public health centres should be mandated to facilitate, strong epidemiologic surveillance. At a time when patients are not being subjected to tests, and the services of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) are not being appropriately utilized.

With Deyalsingh’s gross ineptitude, a future administration would need to engage with public consultation with a determination of whether to hold senior public officials accountable for dereliction of duty thereby endangering the health and lives of citizens as is occurring now under this government.

The mismanagement of the current H1N1 emergency further exposes Deyalsingh as a hopeless minister of health, who would recklessly sacrifice the lives of citizens while he indulges in petty political canvassing.

Tim Gopeesingh, MP, Caroni East

Former Minister of Education

 

Consultant Gynaecologic Oncologist

Former Associate Professor &

Clinical Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI School of Medicine

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