T&T needs to prepare itself for potential shortages in the health system.
While the immediate focus has been placed on ensuring there is adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and ventilators available during the COVID-19 pandemic – a similar call has been made to ensure the relevant authorities are scenario planning for the next three months and beyond as the majority of medical supplies are produced in China, India and the US.
Former Medical Chief of Staff of Mt Hope Women’s Hospital Dr Karen Sohan said, “We therefore need to take stock of how many doses of each medication are available such as antibiotics, anaesthetic drugs, anti-diabetic meds, etc.”
“In addition, we need to work out our consumption rate so that it is clear how long the stockpile will last.”
She explained that Oxytocin will be needed by pregnant women for induction of labour and following delivery to minimize bleeding, while Propofol, Fentanyl and Inimbex are essential anaesthetic agents required to put patients to sleep for surgery and ensure that they wake up safely.
Sohan questioned, “Can you imagine the consequences if we run out of these vital drugs?”
“If the majority of products come from China, India and the US, it is reasonable to assume that when these countries restart production, they will ensure that they are adequately stocked before resuming exports.”
And she has warned, “We have to be vigilant about sub-standard products flooding the market as opportunists capitalize on the increased demand.”
Calling for urgent feedback from local suppliers, Sohan said answers were needed now as to whether persons have been encountering problems with their foreign exporters when new orders are placed? If there are any alternatives? And if health services need to be re-organised and prioritized in accordance with the supplies.
Urging the Ministry of Health to adopt a proactive approach to this issue and not wait until problems arise and then launch an investigation, Sohan said, “Now is the time to be pro-active and to anticipate potential problems such as shortages in the health system.”
“Accurate information needs to be shared with the public. In this age of technology, citizens are well-informed. It cannot be that the health system of Trinidad and Tobago is thriving when state-of-the-art hospitals in first world countries are floundering during this pandemic.”
She added that withholding information to paint a perfect picture was both infuriating and insulting.
Sohan went added, “We the people understand, that this is a difficult time for our country; we are not looking to blame anyone for the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we expect transparency. We are looking for solutions to minimize further agony to our beloved Trinidad and Tobago.”