During the past nine months the country has experienced a reduction in both the quality and availability of health care and services that they had grown accustomed to in my stead. During my term as Minister of Health, and in consultation with the Regional Health Authorities, fundamental changes were recommended to be made to the structure of the pharmaceutical supply chain that would have alleviated some of the problems being faced by the Ministry today. Unfortunately, none of these initiatives were fully realized as the government was changed during the transformation process, and following this, the Ministry and Regional Health Authorities have been impeded by audits and reviews. As such, this has not only placed increased strain and burden on the staff at our public health facilities, but this miscalculation has also created a shortage in drugs and supplies necessary in treating patients, and is leading to unnecessary anguish and suffering to all persons involved.
Since assuming office last year, the government has since failed to compensate pharmaceutical suppliers for their goods, leading to a scarcity of medication for the treatment of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular conditions. Recently however, this list has grown to include the vaccine for yellow fever and certain chemotherapy drugs used in treating cancer patients. While the inadequacy of the vaccine only causes the interruption of travel by persons wishing to visit certain Caribbean and international locations, unavailability of drugs to treat with NCDs threatens the lives of persons who may have been diagnosed with a congenital or virulent disease. While some persons in our society are fortunate enough to be able to afford these prescriptions and treatments privately however, the majority are still wholly dependent upon public health institutions, that are now unable to provide this necessary service.
As a fairly new member of government, Mr. Deyalsingh needs to recognize the value of looking beyond party politics if he wishes to deliver high-quality healthcare to the citizens of this country. While I am not averse to sharing these solutions with the Minister for the benefit of the nation, I can only do so on his request for discussions. I am certain that the technocrats at the Ministry and other health care officials will offer him the same advice and suggestions that they have furnished me with in the past however, nothing will come of this if he continues to demonstrate unwillingness to implement any ideas that are not uniquely his own. Such discourse during a crisis, such as the one which plagues the nation today, can not only assist in regaining public trust and confidence but can also lead to the discovery of remedies. The onus is on Mr. Deyalsingh one way or the other however, as until change is brought about in the supply chain management for the delivery of pharmaceutical drugs to the public, patients will continue to anguish in pain and discomfort.
Dr. Fuad Khan
Member of Parliament for the Barataria/San Juan Constituency