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PM Gonsalves defends local health sector

PM Gonsalves defends local health sector

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Despite criticism by many of the local health sector, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has defended it, saying that although there may be some deficiencies in the tertiary health care offered to Vincentians, this does not mean that the country lacks an overall good quality health care system.{{more}}

The sentiments were expressed by the Prime Minister at the handing over ceremony of a brand new Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) scan machine last Friday, March 11.

According to the Prime Minister, there are certain medical procedures that can be performed here, but there were some procedures that could be done elsewhere in collaboration with other countries.

For example, Gonsalves said that he had been advised that it did not make sense to set up a special neurological programme (brain surgery) here in St Vincent.

“To set up a special neurological programme, you are going to need a consultant neurosurgeon, somebody with a lot of experience and membership with one of the recognized memberships in the world,” he explained.

Gonsalves further explained that there simply are not enough cases to warrant the setting up of such a unit, saying that it was cheaper to instead have the facilities to diagnose problems here, but to do the actual surgeries elsewhere.

“Because for a neurosurgeon to be around to perform two or three cases a year, that person would lose fellowship due to the scarcity of cases,” the prime minister contended.

Gonsalves in his defence of the local public health system said that he believed that people took too much for granted.

He singled out access to a clean and relatively inexpensive water supply, advances in the area of the immunization against diseases which were once considered life threatening and low infant and maternal mortality rates as just some of the advances that Vincentians had taken for granted over the years.

Easy access and in some instances the free distribution of pharmaceutical products and the administering of oxygen free of cost to asthmatic children despite the high cost were also mentioned as some of the areas within the local health system that were often overlooked.

Commendations were in order for the physicians and pharmacists who work within the public health system.

“We have excellent physicians and pharmacists who do excellent work at the secondary and primary health care facilities,” Gonsalves said.

He said that he had heard repeated complaints about the Accident and Emergency Department at the hospital.

But according to the PM, persons had to understand that more serious injuries would receive precedence over those considered less severe.

Gonsalves further explained that the majority of Vincentians were not dying from diseases such as HIV/AIDS, but rather non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, motor vehicular accidents and various forms of criminal violence and that we needed to begin taking the necessary precautionary measures to ensure a longer, healthier lifestyle. (DD)

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