Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar spoke yesterday about the difficulties of healthcare in the southland.
She was speaking at the commissioning of the San Fernando Teaching Hospital at Chancery Lane in San Fernando.
The multi-million-dollar complex, which began under the former People's National Movement (PNM) administration, was initially planned as an administrative building to house Government ministries.
But Persad-Bissessar said, "A person cannot enjoy any of that if that person is ill or dead."
She said, "In the same way we had the differences of opinion about the opening up of the highway, I don't think anybody understands how long it takes a person to get from Point Fortin to San Fernando to reach this hospital. How long it takes them to get to Port of Spain, how long it takes a person from Fyzabad or Siparia or Debe to get into San Fernando, and thereafter into Port of Spain. And even perhaps if they do know, some of them do not care. My Government is committed to opening all the spaces and places."
Persad-Bissessar said the commissioning of other heath facilities, including the Point Fortin and Arima hospitals, will take place soon.
She added she would not apologise for her Government's plans to develop the country's economy, education and health sectors, along with initiatives to reduce crime.
"I make no apologies," she said.
Emphasis will also be placed on the development of Tobago in 2013.
She also said despite objections, construction of the highway to Point Fortin and the University of the West Indies south campus in Debe will continue.
"You have heard me speaking of the very major billion-dollar energy projects that will be coming in Trinidad and Tobago in the new year. We want to grow sustainable jobs. We want to grow the economy in order to improve the quality of life of all our citizens. Our energy sector is yet to take off which will allow us to get the revenue in various ways and create jobs that will give us ways to deal with other kinds of projects such as these (the San Fernando Teaching Hospital)," she said.
Persad-Bissessar said crime fighting will remain a major concern and closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras will be installed in the new year throughout the country.
Focus will also be placed on early childhood education, as the first seven years of a child's life were crucial in shaping that child into the adult he or she would become, she said.
Speaking about Tobago development, Persad-Bissessar said, "They (Tobagonians) have been so disadvantaged over the years and, just like us in the South how we feel that we have been neglected for so long, people in Tobago they feel the same way. They are like the step-child, the orphan child of Trinidad. They must no longer be so, they must be side by side with us, and that is why I could empathise with them that they have seen the rural neglect."
She said the Tobago Constitution Amendment bill and the Tobago House of Assembly Amendment bill are ready to be debated in Parliament next year.
She added, "I take the opportunity to wish you a better, more prosperous new year as you go into Old Year's Night, as we call it. Be careful. Stay alive. Be safe. Take care of yourselves. There is a loved one waiting for you at home or elsewhere. Get home safe and may God continue to bless each and every one of you and may God continue to bless our great nation."