Weekend media reports note that Health Minister Deyalsingh has now frighteningly admitted that the much touted “parallel health system is basically filled at this time.” It’s therefore unable to take in any new Covid-19 patients for the next few weeks. This is a serious cause for concern, for citizens’ lives are now at palpable risk.
Since January, the Rowley Government claimed they had a pandemic plan. It is now clear why they bluntly refused to allow the Opposition’s five Parliamentary Motions to debate this crucial national issue—they were blatantly lying.
By March, they rushed to access $20 billion taxpayers’ dollars under the pretense of funding Covid-19 relief measures. Again, they lied—to date citizens cannot even get their promised $1500 Salary Relief grants.
They claimed their Covid-19 testing policy was a success. They lied—it was in fact a sham and failure, marked by deliberate, inadequate, under-testing. After four months, they have only tested less than 3000 patients (0.01 per cent of the population).
Amid allegations of rank nepotism, they spent millions of taxpayers’ dollars on several ‘step down’ facilities, claiming to have over 1000 beds in them.
Yet our stranded foreign nationals now face homelessness and starvation abroad because they allegedly cannot accommodate them. Again, they are lying.
They easily opened our borders to bring PNM candidates home for election screening, and hold shady meetings with the US Sanctioned Venezuelan VP Rodriguez and PDVSA officials. Now, citizens are being told that if, God forbid, they test positive for Covid-19, they cannot be urgently accommodated for life saving treatment.
This is untenable. It is truly a national shame and scandal! Under our Constitution, all citizens are entitled to free public healthcare. To deny citizens their right of free healthcare is illegal, and possibly bordering on criminal negligence. Again, the Rowley Government must say—where has the $20 billion taxpayers’ funds gone?
What is more alarming is that T&T’s regular health care system is also in similar shambles.
Over the past five years, more than $32 billion has been allocated to Health in the Budgets. Yet, the bedrock primary health care system has collapsed, to the detriment of the several thousands of patients suffering chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Accident and Emergency departments have been plagued by massive overcrowding and dangerously long waiting times.
Patients are forced to lie on trolleys, benches and floors because of insufficient beds, medical resources and non-functioning diagnostic equipment.
Hospitals have been plagued by severe shortages of medical workers because Minister Deyalsingh suspiciously refused to hire TT nationals.
These include about 400 doctors, over 1000 nurses and technicians. The closure of the Port of Spain General Hospital’s Central Block also resulted in about 400,000, citizens in north and west Trinidad being deprived of efficient, acceptable health care. They maliciously refused to open the Couva Hospital, until the Covid-19 crisis forced them to do so.
This then, is the legacy of the failed, destructive Rowley regime—deliberately destroying our health sector and wantonly endangering our citizens’ lives and safety. For this, and all other atrocities, they must truly never see the corridors of Government again.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC, MP
Leader of the Opposition
Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago,
Port of Spain,