Gopeesingh: "Government failed T&T on Zika..."

The re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for care and pro­tec­tion for ba­bies with mi­cro­cephaly should be in the state’s hands since Gov­ern­ment was late in re­spond­ing to prepa­ra­tions for last year’s Zi­ka mos­qui­to epi­dem­ic and ba­bies with Mi­cro­cephaly were lat­er born, says UNC MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh.

Gopeesingh was speak­ing in yes­ter­day’s 2020 Bud­get de­bate in the Low­er House.

Mi­cro­cephaly, a con­di­tion where a ba­by’s head is small­er than nor­mal, is caused by the Zi­ka virus among oth­er con­di­tions.

Gopeesingh, ac­cus­ing Gov­ern­ment of be­ing late in re­spond­ing to the Zi­ka out­break, not­ed that four peo­ple died.

“Now, there are over 100 moth­ers whose ba­bies have been af­fect­ed. This (Mi­cro­cephaly) a big bur­den for peo­ple to car­ry. It’s worse than cere­bral pal­sy- chil­dren can­not walk, talk or move,” he added.

Gopeesingh al­so slammed Health Min­is­ter Ter­rence Deyals­ingh’s state­ment that the Cou­va hos­pi­tal will be used in con­junc­tion with UWI for med­ical tourism to help di­ver­si­fy the econ­o­my and earn by Forex. Deyals­ingh said the hos­pi­tal will be part of a cor­ri­dor of health units in­clud­ing Mt Hope Hos­pi­tal and UWI’s Debe cam­pus cater­ing to off­shore med­ical stu­dents. Deyals­ingh added that a shift has oc­curred in the US where ac­cred­i­ta­tion is giv­en for for­eign med­ical schools and said that T&T must po­si­tion it­self for this.

But Gopeesingh, not­ing UWI is owned by Caribbean coun­tries, said the hos­pi­tal should be made avail­able first­ly for T&T cit­i­zens.

“Be­cause Gov­ern­ment owes UWI $200 mil­lion, you take tax­pay­ers’ mon­ey, in­vest­ed in a $2 bil­lion hos­pi­tal and give it to UWI to run. Giv­ing UWI—which be­longs to Caribbean coun­tries—51 per cent of the hos­pi­tal is giv­ing them a $1 bil­lion share! T&T tax­pay­ers paid $2 bil­lion for this!”

Say­ing the off­shore med­ical school was “pie in the sky” he said St Georges’ Uni­ver­si­ty med­ical school was nev­er recog­nised as it was seen as be­ing of a low­er stan­dard. He added that Do­mini­ca, Montser­rat and An­tigua al­so have med­ical schools but their grad­u­ates have to go to the US for phys­i­cal train­ing—a con­ces­sion a TT off­shore school wouldn’t have.

On Deyals­ingh’s claim the Cou­va hos­pi­tal has done 1,564 di­ag­nos­tics in­clud­ing MRIs and CTY scans, Gopeesingh not­ed its MRI ma­chine had bro­ken down.

Gopeesingh urged di­a­bet­ic and hy­per­ten­sion pa­tients to ex­am­ine their blood sug­ar and hy­per­ten­sion lev­els since Gov­ern­ment hadn’t heed­ed Op­po­si­tion re­quests to change from “five-cent drugs” like Met­formin and oth­ers. He said af­ter 40 years, 40 per cent of In­do T&T cit­i­zens suf­fer from di­a­betes and 40 per cent of Afro T&T cit­i­zens, hy­per­ten­sion.

“There are a lot of strong-look­ing Afro TT men walk­ing around with hy­per­ten­sion which de­vel­op in­to re­nal fail­ure—Gov­ern­ment has no pro­grammes for this,” he said.

He said cer­vi­cal can­cer is pre­ventable and health cen­tres should be do­ing such checks.

“Women over 50 should have an­nu­al mam­mo­grams, men over 40, PSA tests. Af­ter prostate can­cer, colon can­cer is the sec­ond lead­ing cause of men’s death,” he said adding a UNC Gov­ern­ment would have pro­grammes to deal with these and al­so build the On­col­o­gy Cen­tre.

Gopeesingh slammed Deyals­ingh’s view that the pub­lic was un­grate­ful re­gard­ing T&T’s free health ser­vices”.

“Peo­ple are pay­ing a Health Sur­charge —they’re sup­posed to get prop­er treat­ment. The PNM Gov­ern­ment isn’t giv­ing it to them free. Apart from Health Sur­charge, peo­ple are pay­ing tax­es which is used for this—so peo­ple are en­ti­tled to their health care,” he said, adding that the econ­o­my had stalled.

“The dri­ver can’t dri­ve”, Gopeesingh said as he cit­ed this year’s high­est na­tion­al awardee, Chalk­dust’s ca­lyp­so.


Story by NEWS DESK




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