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Dr Rai Ragbir, Member of Parliament for Cumuto/Manzanilla.

Member of Parliament for Cumuto Manzanilla Dr Rai Ragbir is calling on Government to begin an immediate and systematic plan of action that would ensure a health care system that is robust, responsive and resilient to any future epidemic or pandemic.

His call came this country joined with the United Nations in observing the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness.

In a statement Dr Ragbir told Government, “This is not the time to become complacent, relaxed or undisturbed in our efforts, as we are in the midst of combatting a Global Pandemic, one of the most devastating in modern human history, and which has claimed the lives of 125 persons locally. And therefore, the Pandemic must be a learning experience for us, so that the Government can bolster and strengthen its mechanisms in its handling of this and future outbreaks.”

Dr Ragbir reminded the Government that the country’s economic growth and development revolve around its human resources, and it is of critical importance that the health and well-being of the population become the centre of a strong and cohesive public health policy.

He stated, “a large part of any public health policy must be the widespread dissemination of information and education to the population, as there is empirical data which suggests that most people dying from COVID-19 have one or more chronic diseases, including obesity, CVD, diabetes or respiratory problems—diseases that are preventable with a healthy lifestyle, and therefore prevention measures and primary care must become a part of our health care system.”

Dr Ragbir, a medical doctor said, our health institutions—hospitals and district health facilities must become centres of public learning and not just places where illnesses are treated.

The Cumuto Manzanilla MP said a strong defence against any future epidemic or pandemic is Government’s investment in a well-educated and remunerated workforce coupled with the most modern tools as well as a safe work environment.

He lamented, “There can be no doubt that our healthcare providers at all levels have been subjected to and exposed to the stresses, strains and weaknesses of our health care system, many of whom are making tremendous personal sacrifices to provide the best health care to the population —and so I am insisting that Government create a reserve of healthcare workers, pharmacists, care assistants, and other professionals, who can be mobilized in a short space of time to respond to the health care needs of the population; capacity building in others areas must be a top priority as well—these include storing reserve capacity of supplies such as personal protection equipment, and maintaining hospital beds that can be quickly transformed into critical care beds.”

The Cumuto Manzanilla MP said the current health crisis brought on by the COVID-19 Pandemic requires a revolutionary change in how our health system works and the manner in which health services are delivered.

He stated, “Since the COVID-19 outbreak, healthcare services have been disrupted by lockdowns, the cancellation of elective care and the fear of visiting care facilities and clinics; but these must not be seen as setbacks, but rather as stepping stones in strengthening our resolve to improve our future health care system, whether the issue is one of an Epidemic or a Pandemic.”