Broken machines, long waiting time for beds, shortage of medication and costly private tests.
These are some of the issues facing citizens at the public health sector said Fyzabad Member of Parliament Dr Lackram Bodoe.
Speaking during the United National Congress (UNC) Monday Night Forum held at the Tulsa Trace Hindu School, Bodoe said the “Government is long on promises and short on delivery” and has dismantled the public health sector.
He said other medical professionals spoke to him over the growing number of issues affecting the medical institutions in the country.
Bodoe gave the example with the eye department at the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA), where he said substitute medications are being dispersed to patients resulting from a drug shortage, patients have to wait an extended period of time for eye surgeries and to have blood tests conducted.
Bodoe said these are serious concerns and called for the Government to give an account.
He said there is a shortage of the drug used to dilate the pupils in the eyes of a person which lasts for approximately three hours and what is being given to the patients is a drug which lasts for two days.
“So can you imagine you go to the clinic, you get your eyes dilated and for two days you can't drive, you can't function. You have to wait for this drug to wear out,” he said.
Another example Bodoe spoke of with the eye department was the biometry equipment which is used for eye tests
He said the equipment, “has been lying there in the San Fernando Hospital for six months. This is equipment worth more than one million dollars and yet under this Minister of Health and new board of the SWRHA they have been unable to commission that equipment.”
He said in the meantime, patients have to privately have the eye tests conducted, which would cost approximately $500-$600 for the test.
Another eye surgery called vitreoretinal surgery (VR surgery) is another equipment present at the hospital and there is no specialist to perform the surgery.
Patients have to privately pay approximately $30,000 for the surgery.
Bodoe said this surgery was paid for under the Peoples Partnership Government through an initiative called the External Patient Programme, where those who cannot afford the surgery can access the surgery through the programme paid for by the Government.
He said patients waiting for cataract surgery are also suffering given the long waiting time for the surgery.
He said that while patients have to wait a long period for tests and scans to be conducted, there are state-of-the-art equipment at the Couva Children's Hospital being unutilised.
He questioned why the equipment is not being utilised from the Children's Hospital and dispelled the rumour that the hospital was not ready.
Bodoe said that under the former administration, there was a plan for phase operationalisation of the Children's Hospital where different departments were to be opened in phases. He said the government is misleading the public and said, “don't be fooled that this thing (the hospital) wasn't ready.”
He said: “Good health is a critical factor of national life. This government must get its priorities right. What we are witnessing today is a virtual collapse of the health sector. This government is obviously without any clue, they are on autopilot.”
Citizen actions praised
Bodoe said he has noticed a “disturbing trend” in his constituency as citizens have taken the responsibility onto themselves to fix potholes along the roadway and cleaning drainage.
He said this was a failure by the Government for not taking the responsibility to do this.
He commended the citizens action for doing this and said that it is the responsibility of the State.