Member of Parliament for Fyzabad and shadow Minister of Health Dr. Lackram Bodoe wants Prime Minister Keith Rowley and the Minister of Health to clear the air on the misinformation from the government on the budget for non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Dr. Bodoe asked about the matter at Friday’s sitting of the House of Representatives during the Prime Minister’s Question Time using a budgetary figure provided by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh.
This is the question Dr. Bodoe asked:
“Given recent statements that the number of people accessing treatment for non- communicable diseases, so called NCDs, through the public health care system is placing a heavy burden on the state’s resources of a reported $6 Billion annually – would the honourable prime minister state whether the Government plans to maintain funding for the treatment of the NCDs?”
The $6 billion figure came from Deyalsingh who spoke about it at a function at the Housing Ministry and was quoted in the press as saying that provision of health care to those suffering from diabetes, hypertension, lung cancer and other NCDs costs the State more than $6 billion yearly.
Dr. Rowley appeared to be angry that Dr. Bodoe asked the question and from his reaction he seemed to blame the opposition for what he called misinformation about the budgetary figure, without acknowledging that if there was misinformation it came from his health minister.
Based on this Dr. Bodoe now wants clarification on whether the minister deliberately misled the population on the expenditure for NCDs. He also wants to know what is the national budget for health and what portion is spent on NCDs.
Dr. Bodoe said when he read the $6 billion figure in the newspaper he thought it was high but concluded that if the minister gave that figure it ought to be right since a minister is expected to be responsible in providing such information to the public.
According to Dr. Bodoe, “When the Prime Minister talks about misinforming the public he should blame his health minister.”
The Fyzabad MP also commented on the attitude of the Prime Minister in response to the question. “The thing that really affected me is the venom with which the Prime Minister attacked me,” he said. He added that Dr. Rowley not only ducked a legitimate question but he also refused to answer the second part of the question about the shortage of drugs for CDAP patients.
“I know that just a few months ago Chief Medical Officer Dr. Clive Tilluckdharry complained about lack of CDAP drugs in the country saying that it was caused by poor management by NIPDEC, the state agency responsible for the procurement of the medicine,” Dr. Bodoe stated. “What is really happening with management of health services in this nation?” Dr. Bodoe asked.
The MP wants the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health to give unambiguous answers to the following questions:
• What is the estimated budget for the Ministry of Health and has it changed since September 2015?
• What percentage of that overall budget is carded for the treatment and prevention of non-communicable diseases?
• Regarding the shortages of CDAP drugs, please state the estimated shortages and what the Government intends to do about it?
On a different matter Dr. Bodoe is putting in the public domain a question that he did not get the opportunity to ask in Parliament:
“Does the Prime Minister agree with the predictions made by the Minister of Health that the country can expect at least three maternal deaths at the Mt. Hope Maternity Hospital in October and November of this year?”
Dr. Bodoe said, “I expect the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health will do the responsible thing and respond to my queries, even though they are under no obligation to do so. I would not like to see them wait for the questions to qualify to be asked in Parliament.”