The current system for the provision of health care services to Vincentians is in a lamentable state. The Unity Labour Party (ULP) regime has failed miserably to effectively manage health care. The health care system in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is crying out for visionary, caring, and competent leadership which only the New Democratic Party (NDP) can deliver.
Over the past eighteen years, Vincentians have been complaining about the lack of basic medication at the clinics and hospitals. And the mal-functioning and absence of critical equipment to perform important tests at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) is also a major concern. It means that patients have to seek medical attention overseas. This creates financial burden on the poor and working class.
The untenable situation is compounded by the following, health facilities, including our premier secondary care institution, the MCMH, have been left to fall into disrepair. So too are the district clinics throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines. For example, the clinics at Calder, Sandy Bay, Owia, Campden Park, Greggs and Lowmans Windward.
The Honourable Nigel Stephenson, parliamentary representative for South Leeward, has been pleading with the government for almost ten (10) years for them to repair the Capmden Park Clinic. In the last sitting of parliament, he asked the following question of the Minister of Health: The Campden Park Clinic has become an eyesore and residents and patients have been complaining bitterly of the need to have the facility repaired. Will the Honourable Minister please state whether the clinic will be repaired and if yes when can work be expected to start? Instead the Minister answered the question, he displayed his usual arrogance and commented that it was the most frequently asked question.
Senator Israel Bruce asked similar questions in February of this year about the clinics in South Central Windward of which he is the candidate for the NDP. He asked of the Minister of Health: The Doreen John Health Center, Greggs, in the constituency of South Central Windward is currently plagued with mold infestation. Will the Honorable Minister please state if he has been made aware of this problem at the Doreen John Health Center? If no would he assign a team of experts to assess this structure with a view of determining its current state?
And, the clinic situated at Lowmans Windward in the constituency of South Central Windward has been having problems with termite infestation of the wooden structure constituting the roof of that facility which results in the absence of a live-in nurse. Will the Honorable Minister state if he is aware of this termite problem at the Lowmans Windward clinic? If no, would he get a team to go and assess this structure with a view of assessing its current state? If yes, how soon can the Nurse be assigned to that clinic and the residents of Lowmans Windward be assured that the roofing and termite infestation issues with this clinic will be addressed? Nine months after, the situation at the clinics remain the same.
In addition, in the Ministry of Health, as in other areas of the ULP regime, meritocracy has been replaced by favouritism, and reward for performance supplanted by party loyalty. It has been a major trigger for the leadership crisis and falling standards that now characterize the public health system. Management systems have not been reorganized to respond to the demands of a modern health system. So, the management of the MCMH remains stuck in the 20th century, while community health services are fragmented and, in some cases, now redundant.
The NDP will solve the problems. The most important innovation for financing the health sector will be the introduction of National Health Insurance that will embrace all citizens of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; to provide coverage of basic health care for the insured and their dependents. The service will similar to our National Insurance Services in that it will be mandatory. However, individuals may, if they so desire “top up” their coverage with private insurance to cover services not covered by the national system, or to cover private treatment. Also, an effective management system will be implemented, with strict accountability from all staff at all facilities and a new state of the art hospital will be built and operated in an appropriate part of the country and district hospitals will be upgraded, to serve the needs of locals and visitors alike in the most efficient manner.
We will ensure universal access to health care. Good public policy demands health care be accessible and affordable to every national of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A new strategic approach will be to define a minimum package of essential health services that the state will undertake to make available to all citizens. This essential package will incorporate preventive, curative and rehabilitative services, including services for the elderly and persons with disabilities.
Strengthening community health systems is critical. All of the major health problems currently confronting St. Vincent and the Grenadines may be prevented and controlled through a well-organized community health systems approach. The features of this system will include, a team approach among all health care workers operating at the community level that will involve joint planning, programming and monitoring and evaluation. This approach will build synergy, avoid duplication, and increase efficiency and effectiveness and engagement of community leaders and community groups as active partners rather than passive recipients in the quest for health.
And community members will be encouraged to become involved in the identification of health issues/problems, decision-making on solutions, and active involvement in implementation of programmes. Regular reporting by members of the health team to the community on prevailing health issues. These interventions will not only keep community members abreast of health developments but will also provide opportunity for constructive feedback.
The ULP regime is incompetent and cannot manage the affairs of this country. The NDP has the better programmes and policies to effectively managed the health sector.