Cummings questions –where you ever heard people dying from dengue
“Where in the world you ever hear people dying from dengue?
This was the question posed over the weekend by Daniel Cummings, the New Democratic Party (NDP)’s candidate for West Kingstown.
“Dengue is one of those diseases that you categorize as preventable. That is, you can save yourself from falling prey to dengue,” Cummings said as he addressed the opening of the party’s West St George constituency office on Saturday.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States says that each year, up to 400 million people get infected with dengue, approximately 100 million fall ill from the infection, while 22,000 die from severe dengue.
Cummings said while that even if you are bitten by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, the vector of the dengue virus, you should not die from it.
“If only the man in charge of health wasn’t sleeping, you wouldn’t die from dengue. If only the man in charge of the economy didn’t cut down the amount of money that they spend on the environmental health department you wouldn’t die from dengue.
“If only they had started a program of information and education to alert you of the dangers and to help
you to clean your surroundings and to keep the public areas free from stagnant water you wouldn’t die from dengue.”
Cummings said that even more critical is the lack of funding being given to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH).
“They would have been able to test people for dengue. They would have been able to do the basic…so the doctors could administer the care, but tonight I hold Ralph Gonsalves personally responsible for every single death from dengue in this country and I pronounce Ralph E Gonsalves as officially Dr Death in this country.”
Cummings said that in other parts of the world, Dr Gonsalves would be tried and found guilty of maleficence as the country was warned that a dengue outbreak was imminent.
He said that when every government was increasing funding on public health, this government on three occasions, reduced the department’s funding.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and Minister of Health Luke Browne have denied that this is so, saying that the actual budgeted amount for the department was increased in 2020, but in 2018, the actual amount spent was more than had been budgeted, because of a special warrant signed for the department.
“When you have more than a quarter of the houses in the country breeding that mosquito you have to take action. You don’t have to be a scientist to know that, but alas…,” said Cummings who is of the view that the Unity Labour Party (ULP) does not understand governance.
As at October 6, there were 655 laboratory confirmed cases of dengue fever in St Vincent and the Grenadines and six persons have died.
The chief medical officer Dr Simone Keizer-Beache said last Wednesday that this figure just accounts for persons who have done tests “but for each one of those persons, you might have between three and four additional persons meeting the clinical diagnosis criteria for dengue”. Cummings said that every year, $20,000 is spent on the Prime Minister’s security and the cost is going through the sky.
“That is the reason they don’t have money to put where it matters,” said Cummings.
He said that SVG has been through hell physically and metaphorically but is on the verge of a transformation as Vincentians are about to see the promise land, led by Dr Godwin Friday, the leader of the NDP.
He said the NDP, led by Friday has a commitment and passion for positive change in the country.