Monday, May 18 2015
THE EDITOR: Despite the many challenges that confront our health services, Dr Fuad Khan will still go down as one of the most successful Health Ministers the country has seen. He has been able to make real the vision of the People’s Partnership Government for a better quality health service as evidenced by a number of important initiatives.
Apart from the sod-turning ceremony to begin construction of the Arima Hospital (I am sure this is music to the ears of Bally Maharaj and friends of the Arima Hospital), the Point Fortin Hospital is eminent, and as well the Children’s Hospital in Couva is about to be commissioned.
The opening of the teaching hospital in San Fernando with 216 additional beds is not only a major contribution to the medical human resource capacity but also a major paradigm in the vision for the realisation of First World healthcare.
The additional medical teaching facilities are a welcomed addition. The oncology centre now under construction at Mt Hope will bring relief to the hundreds of cancer patients in what will be a First World facility.
In the meantime Khan must be congratulated for developing the programme of partnership with the private hospitals to provide cancer treatment. In Carenage an advanced health centre is under construction and tenders have been invited for a similar facility in Felicity.
The current upgrading of health centres and the extension of their opening hours to 9 pm and on weekends demonstrate that the Government is sensitive to the needs of the population and has been responding accordingly. As I understand it, there are 46 such centres operating longer hours.
The El Dorado nursing academy in which over 1,200 students are now enrolled is a further step in the direction of ensuring the availability of human resources to staff these facilities. Certainly this is a good example of forward planning on the part of the Ministry of Health and the tertiary sector under Minister Fazal Karim.
Kidney patients can now access treatment at 19 centres. This is a major development in the public-private sector partnering that the Government had advocated in 2010.
Other areas where Khan has initiated projects include the dedicated eye surgery unit in San Fernando, the reduction of the backlog of cataract surgeries, as well as other minor surgeries at private institutions paid for by the Government.
I recently went to a health centre and was surprised to be greeted by a customer service representative who was very professional and also clad in a clearly identifiable uniform.
I learnt that 700 such representatives have been appointed through the OJT programme.
Khan may not be the most likable minister but this country owes him a debt of gratitude for taking bold initiatives and bringing to reality projects that have languished for many years.
The health service may not be where he wants it to be but he has certainly moved it forward and is realising the vision of the Prime Minister to ensure the health of our citizens remains a top priority of the PP administration.