Elections 2020 – Where do we go from here?
EDITOR: Once again, congratulations are in order to the Comrade and his team for creating history, not only in SVG, but in the region, for setting and achieving a five straight electoral victory record under the ‘first past the post’ system; and secondly, hats off to the electoral office for the excellent conduct of this elections. Independent regional analysts have lauded the manner in which the data was disseminated to the public, noting that even in their country they were not able to get results in a spreadsheet format online, so that results could be analyzed and tabulated in real time by the electorate.
So where do we go from here? There’s still more to be done in the field of health and agriculture among others. One of my major concerns and what I would like to see addressed in the first 100 days of the new ULP term is the introduction of National Health Insurance (NHI). NHI is critical in providing essential health care and support for a population that is increasingly becoming victim to improper nutrition and unhealthy lifestyles.
Almost every Monday morning we hear of persons making appeals to the general public via our local radio stations asking for monetary donations for a relative that has a medical condition that cannot be dealt with here. With National Health Insurance, that would be a thing of the past. Let me share a conversation that I had with former Director of the NIS, Reggie Thomas, while on a flight en route to a family reunion in St. Maarten, circa 2015.
During his tenure at the NIS Mr. Thomas did a remarkable job and I asked him why they did not introduce National Health Insurance and mentioned the scenario from my previous paragraph. He said, … “interestingly, the legislation which is necessary to make NHI happen has already been drafted but not brought to parliament for discussion and ratification”. Then I replied by saying that that Bill could not have been presented by the ULP, because the public would have known about it. He noted that the draft legislation had been prepared by the NDP administration but that they lost the election in 2001 and never bothered to bring it up for discussion in Parliament … a grave error among other issues that has caused them to remain
in opposition so long. Even during the recent campaign, NHI should have been their ‘trump card’, but was not trumpeted loud and clear.
But it is not too late, because NHI is absolutely necessary along with a modern hospital to complement the diagnostic facility in Georgetown, as well as dialysis facilities, with the latter being required on both sides of the island and one in the Grenadines.
NHI will also be beneficial for all specialist doctors, including private doctors who won’t have to worry about being paid for their services, as payment for each procedure will be agreed to by the NHI. This development will also allow private doctors and Ministry of Health to invest in in better equipment, and so allow for the best health care delivery service to the general public, especially the elderly, many of whom are returning nationals. This development will also serve the country well, as visitors would feel comfortable knowing that if they became ill while on vacation that this country has facilities on par with international standards.
And in closing, our farmers need to ramp up on the production of organically produced foods. Most of our health problems can be traced to improper diets and processed foods, but I will leave that to the experts in nutrition to expand, suffice it to say that organically produced foods fetch far better prices and are healthy to the consumer.
I sincerely hope that both government and opposition can work together to make these ideals a reality. The British parliamentary system is cramping and paralyzing our development and has divided our country into two hostile camps, whereas we should be pooling our resources and talents for the benefit of the entire country. Let’s continue this discussion !
Donald De Riggs