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Government neglecting health care in Southern Grenadines – Ollivierre

Government neglecting health care in Southern  Grenadines  – Ollivierre


Health care in the Southern Grenadines has been neglected by the current government of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

This is the view of that constituency’s parliamentary representative Terrence Ollivierre, which he passionately expressed yesterday, as he spoke in Parliament of the absence of health care {{more}}facilities on the island of Mayreau.

In his presentation, Ollivierre noted that while Minister of Health Clayton Burgin encourages persons to visit the health facilities in their communities on a regular basis to check for chronic, non-communicable diseases, the people of Mayreau cannot do so.

“The health clinic in Mayreau has been closed for years. The people of Mayreau spoke out and I have been addressing the problem in this Parliament, but up to now, nothing has been done. I know you [are] going to tell me that you have budget allocations this year. It was there last year too and we’re still waiting,” Ollivierre said.

He added that instead, sick persons are required to travel to neighbouring Union Island, via speedboat, in order to receive treatment of any kind, for their illnesses.

Furthermore, Ollivierre gave examples of cases where residents were unable to access medical care and had to travel to neighbouring islands for help.

He highlighted that some of these trips are taken at night, sometimes in rain and when the sea waters are rough. He also added that most of the navigational lights between Canouan and Union Island do not work.

“There was a case of a pregnant woman. Mr Speaker, the husband was taking her to Union Island because she had pains…and he had to turn over the engine to another guy to steer — sometimes you get someone to go with you, a boatman — and deliver the child from his wife in a boat between Union Island and Mayreau. And Mr Speaker, that is hard,” said Ollivierre, who seemed to be shedding tears at that point.

Other Members of Parliament could be heard urging Ollivierre not to cry.

After pausing for a short period to compose himself, the Southern Grenadines representative described the situation as unfair and declared that it was wrong to have persons living in such a manner.

The parliamentarian added that there are no doctors or nurses stationed on Mayreau and that the absence of an ambulance is taxing on persons that are in need of the service.

Ollivierre said one resident had to push his elderly father all the way from the health centre to the dock at Mayreau in a wheelchair.

“You tell me that’s not hard?” he lamented.

The Parliamentary Representative said two weeks ago, he visited the elderly man, who is now bed ridden.

“He (the elderly man) would have done all he can to assist his children and the development of Mayreau, but he is there with bedsores. He can’t travel. The doctor visits once per month,” he said.

Ollivierre continued to laud residents of Mayreau like CIBC FirstCaribbean 2009 Unsung Hero John Roache, who Ollivierre said, assists with cleaning the man’s bedsores.

“Mr Speaker, these are some of the challenges we face. What is happening is tantamount to — I don’t want to say it, but I have to — neglect, discrimination. Come on! You can’t have people living like that on an island, no basic health care and it’s time that something be done to alleviate the pains that the people of Mayreau have been living under,” he said.

Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Luis de Shong, in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT yesterday, said the health centre has not been operational since early 2014.

He, however, assured that efforts have been made to alleviate whatever issues residents experience because of the absence of an operational facility.

“The building which houses the clinic for many years…it’s currently dilapidated. That building also houses the nurse’s quarters, so it’s difficult to put somebody in a building which is in a state of disrepair, but every effort is being made to address this matter,” deShong said.

He added that the district health officer is located in Union Island and that systems have been put in place to ensure that the citizens on Mayreau are able to access health care on that neighbouring island.

According to the St Vincent and the Grenadines 2012 Population and Housing Census Preliminary Report, the island of Mayreau has a population of 271 persons – 143 males and 128 females.