Trinidad and Tobago health care system is collapsing

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh (L) Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley

Dear Sir

Prime minister Dr Keith Rowley took to Facebook on Thursday to deflect the gravity of his government “corrupt practices and gross mismanagement” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And naturally, his first target was the opposition United National Congress (UNC) and second Trinidad Guardian’s Curtis Williams who he accused of “peddling UNC propaganda.”

“How come you never hear anybody saying that a The People’s National Movement (PNM) government built the country’s two largest hospitals, San Fernando General and Eric Williams Hospital at Mt Hope?”

What are the facts, not Rowley’s alternate facts and inflammatory rhetoric? 

Port of Spain General Hospital was built by the British Colonial government and was officially opened in 1858, 98 years before the PNM was formed! The PNM simply expanded it.

San Fernando General Hospital was also a project of the Colonial government and opened in February 1955, before the PNM even existed.

And yes, under the Williams-led PNM in the late 70s/early 80s, the Mount Hope Hospital was built by SODETEG, a French Company under a government-to-government arrangement. Mount Hope was over budget, over time and riddled with corrupt practices.

Keith Rowley has the unmitigated gall and effrontery to write that the Couva Hospital was completed under the PNM in 2016.

The PNM came into office in September 2015 and met the ultra-modern Couva Children’s Hospital completed and equipped with state-of-the-art equipment in 2015, while the People’s Partnership Government (PPG) was in office. Nothing was added by the Rowley-led administration to make it operational. Rowley’s political spite, malice and one of his gravest sins against the people were his refusal to open this state-of-the-art hospital that was already opened, ready and fully equipped before Kamla Persad-Bissessar left office.

Does Rowley want the country to believe that changing the name of the hospital and then refusing to open the institution until the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head equates to the PNM “completing and already completed hospital?”

The building that is now the San Fernando Teaching Hospital (SFTH) was a structure built during the Manning era, but when, the PPG came into office in 2015, that structure was repurposed and the SFTH was commissioned.

For decades, past PNM administrations made myriad repeated promises to build hospitals, especially during the Manning-led era. New hospitals were promised for two PNM-controlled constituencies – Arima and Point Fortin and were never delivered. Read any of the PNM’s budgets during that period.

And don’t forget the National Oncology Centre which was to be the one-stop shop for cancer care in the country. The Trinidad Guardian editorial of April 28, 2012, captioned – A cancer of inaction, “Fifteen months and $100 million later, the structure was a foundation with piles of material around it at Mt Hope, the first stage of the complete collapse of the project.”

In 2012, the Persad-Bissessar administration revived this project as an essential centre of excellence, up to the first-world standard, utilising cutting-edge technology, with experienced and well-trained professionals. The construction was in progress when the PPG demitted office in September 2015.

After many setbacks, the Rowley-led PNM capriciously terminated this project, virtually forsaking cancer patients who deserve comprehensive and holistic management and care in an integrated medical facility and system.

So, instead of focusing on a health care delivery system that is cost-effective and geared to meet the health needs of the population, where patients receive the treatment and supplies they are entitled to and which meets pre-established standards of quality and excellence, Keith Rowley and the PNM wants to focus on hospital construction.

The health care system is collapsing under the COVID-19 pandemic. The PNM’s lack of vision is evident. Why is the government not using the many closed schools and community centres as parallel health care centres?

The country’s entire health care system is near a total collapse under the leadership of prime minister Rowley and health minister Terrence Deyalsingh.

Does Rowley still hold his September 2018 view, that the nation has the best public healthcare system in the Commonwealth?

Capil Bissoon 


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