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Medical and health matters

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Fri Oct 31, 2014

Editor: When our OECS Health Ministers, and our pharmaceutical supplies officials met in SVG recently, it provided an opportunity to reflect on several aspects of the health economy in the subregion and in our country. It was a pleasing thing to hear that SVG had given leadership in a defensive response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and also to note that, in the OECS, we were buying more basic medicines, per person, than other countries.{{more}} I think that we also had a better payment record for our pharmaceuticals than other states.

It shocked me to learn though, that last year, our bill for “medicines” in the OECS was only $21.6 million dollars, or on an average, $36 dollars per citizen — for the whole year! And the officials were bragging about how much we were spending and doing. Our medical administrator, the PS Luis De Shong, in a critical note, argued that we could get a better deal in supplies for the money. He could be right, but as a client and observer of our public pharmacy, I note that along with other clients, I get turned away empty-handed very regularly when I need the basic NCD medications. On some occasions, the private pharmacies are also out of these medications. My cursory investigations further tell me that complications like increased leg amputations and their negative effects may be due to weak supply and poor quality of necessary pharmaceuticals. I have a personal interest in these matters, as you may suspect, because I am a diabetic myself.

I close these comments with a note on the response to Ebola. Two traditional precepts come to mind. One says: “When you neighbour’s house catch fire, wet down your own.” The other one advises us: “Give your neighbour in distress the treatment you want to get when distress hits you.” We are in a great hurry to wet down our house against Ebola. Where is the love for our neighbour in distress — Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea Conakry?

Oscar

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