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Breaking News:

The health of a nation, FNM style


Published: Aug 18, 2017

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Dear Editor,

 

The now defunct PLP and its shell-shocked cadre of leaders, especially Doctor Perry Gomez, led us straight down the garden path of great expectations, with, as it turned out, absolutely no results. The whole exercise played out by Christie & Company relative to the conceptualization, roll out and implementation of a sustainable and viable national healthcare service was just that – an exercise in abject futility and wastage of the taxpayers’ money.

Dr. Gomez, the then minister of health, in my view, did not know what the hell he was doing relative to National Health Insurance (NHI); and those “consultants” the Christie administration hired (we still don't know their terms of reference or just how much they were actually paid) did next to nothing in educating him and his erstwhile ministerial colleagues. An act was debated and passed in Parliament, but there were no regulations and no statutory board to oversee the same. A few months before the general election Christie and his delusional crew announced the implementation of NHI. They thought, obviously, that, that political ploy would have contributed toward their return to high office.

They were never serious. The physical plant for the delivery of healthcare in The Bahamas is in a bad state of disrepair, across the board. Millions of dollars was wasted on the partial construction of so-called clinics (with no equipment or medication). Who were the contractors, and when did the bids go out or come in? Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), our premier healthcare complex, looks good on the outside, especially from Shirley Street. But it is, by the admission of no less an authority than Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands (FNM–Elizabeth), in bad condition on the interior. Apart from the South Beach Clinic the rest of them here on New Providence are a national disgrace and disasters waiting to happen.

The FNM came to office exactly three months ago. That party said that it would be ready from day one to govern the nation. I could not take any more of the antics and theatrics of the now-defunct PLP, generally, and Arnold Forbes, the now-disappeared MP for Mount Moriah, in particular. I voted for Marvin Dames, minister of national security. I also campaigned for and publicly endorsed several FNM candidates, inclusive of Dionisio D'Aguilar (FNM–Free Town), Minister of State for Legal Affairs Ellsworth Johnson (FNM–Yamacraw) and Shanendon Cartwright (FNM–St. Barnabas).

Some say that it is too early to grade the performances of our ministers, or lack thereof. No. In politics, it is never too early and, I submit, never too early to bring about public healthcare initiatives. In this missive I will critique Sands, for whom I held out high hopes. No, I have not yet written him off, but I am somewhat disappointed that, despite my very public support from over a year ago, he has consistently failed/refused to make a guest appearance on “The Real Deal”, my live, daily, televised talk show. Up to a day or so ago, he failed to acknowledge, much less reply, to my emails, as he was wont to do leading up to his elevation.

Dr. Sands is a fixture in the medical and healthcare industry in our nation. He's one of the best heart surgeons, or so they say, and has worked within the precinct of PMH for decades. He has, or should have, first-hand knowledge of the conditions therein and should, I submit, have formulated remedies and improvement ideas long ago. The Public Hospitals Authority was badly run (it still is) under the PLP regime. Managerial executives, including Mr. Herbert Brown, are still entrenched pulling down big bucks, or so they say. The paper trail is an elusive one, so I do not expect to see much difference under Dr. Sands' tenure.

What I did expect, however, was not to see the constant spectacle of the masses of unwashed black Bahamians (you don't see any white ones) scattered through corridors, adjacent to private wards and close to operating theaters and the morgue; lying on dingy-looking cots and crying out for attention. This is unacceptable, Doctor Sands. Fix it, and fix it now, please. A large portion of The Rand just burned down (shades of Bamsi 3.0) over in Freeport.

The PM and his team visited and surveyed the same recently but, knowing how all governments operate, the people of Grand Bahama will have to wait a long time for repairs and additions to that facility. To add insult to injury, the PM is a medical doctor and a practitioner who has long stated ‘I know what needs to be done to correct the problems within our healthcare system’. Yes, we have monetary constraints, or so they say (contrast this with the almost $3 million handed to MPs for 'constituency programs') but the health of a nation, it has been long said, is the health of a nation.

While I wish the FNM administration all the best and will do all in my power to ensure its success, I am getting tired of the doom and gloom statements attributed to the minister of health. I am tired of loose political talk and the wringing of hands, ad nauseum. I don't want Dr. Sands telling me about the trauma section of the PMH and the fear of staffers who may have to treat gunshot victims, etc. I am tired of hearing that NHI needs to tweaked because it is not ready yet! How many more unwashed black Bahamians will have to die before Minnis & Company get it right from the national healthcare prospective?

We need a brand new hospital that could be constructed along Carmichael Road, or simply acquire that huge plot of land on Prince Charles Drive at the rear of St. Augustine College. Where will we find the money? Simple: Sell government bonds specifically for the construction of the same while seeking yet another loan from the International Development Bank or even the Chinese. The time for talk is over, and if Dr. Sands, like Dr. Gomez, does not know what the hell to do, get out of the way of progress and allow Dr. Minnis to appoint the real deal.

To God, then, in all things, be the glory.

 

– Ortland H. Bodie, Jr.

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