Monday, February 19, 2018

Ebola in T&T? Double trouble, Dr Khan!

I heard Minister of Health Dr Fuad Khan reassuring citizens that our health care system is fully prepared to deal with an outbreak of the Ebola virus.  

I am not sure what to make of this statement; how to respond. I thought in this land of comedy, where everything is a big joke, Dr Khan had to be joking. But why would he joke with something so serious? Then again, he never came across as someone with a great sense of humour. So this gentleman had to be serious.  

Our heath care system is ready to deal with an outbreak of the Ebola virus?  How ridiculous is one allowed to get before it borders on insult?

Chills run up my spine to think that this gentleman actually believes this. Is this the same health care system which is unable to properly diagnose the effects of a mosquito bite, and takes weeks to determine dengue; or deal with a scorpion sting? 

Is this the same system which leaves an assortment of instruments/tools in patients’ bodies after an operation, misdiagnoses patients, has people waiting for days for a bed while sleeping on the floor, has patients living in the hospital for years, burns babies with hot water bottles, has corpses rotting in rooms; never has any medication—save for Panadol?

Is this the same health care system where an expensive piece of equipment goes walking out the door with no one held accountable?  

Is this the same health care system which the same minister agreed that their record-keeping system was in a mess as in the case of Amy Anamunthudo?  

Is this the one where nurses and hospital workers stay away from time to time because of the unsanitary and unsafe working conditions?

Is this the same health sector we have to import medical staff from Cuba for, and then many of them are unable to speak English fluently with the population which they serve? 

The Ebola virus, from my understanding, has a 90 per cent fatality rate. No one wishes that to enter any country; least of all Trinidad and Tobago. Like the rest of this nation, I am aware that our heath care system is not ready for a jep-sting, despite the billions having been spent there over the years.  

Dr Khan, sometimes some things are better left unsaid. You are not legally required to respond each time a microphone appears in front of your face. It is quite acceptable to say “no comment”.

Such response is quite safe and saves embarrassment—providing that one has some iota of shame.  

As a politician, with your party on the ropes, I know it is difficult to avoid publicity; but making irresponsible statements in public is unethical and unprofessional. 

Your political career is on the brink and you will need to pick yourself up and move on, as a medical professional. Do so with a sense of dignity! In the meanwhile, do not attempt to insult the intelligence of a nation.

Rudy Chato Paul, Sr