Calypsonian the Mighty Duke, God bless his soul, once asked, “how many more must die?”
Whilst he was lamenting the social conditions in South Africa, he may have well been lamenting the public health services of Trinidad and Tobago.
The recent tragedy of an Office of the Parliament clerk, 34-year old Sheranne Samuel, is sadly another story of how our loved ones have been hapless victims in a broken and shattered healthcare system.
To think that a fellow citizen who visited our Port-of-Spain General Hospital for what appeared to be a clinical stroke, was then sent on a cross-country escapade to seek a CT Scan at Mt Hope, Sangre Grande and back to St Clair speaks volumes to the mismanagement and gross dereliction of duty of those who lead our nation’s healthcare services.
The 19-hour ordeal of Ms Samuel, as reported in the daily newspapers, for a CT scan, which she eventually got done privately, is unacceptable and someone must be held accountable for this horrific tragedy.
Earlier this year, I made a similar call for the CT scan machine at the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) to be fixed after my friend’s mother, 64-year- old Hasiena Ali had to leave the hospita; to go privately for a CT scan.
At that time, in March, the SWRHA had claimed they were awaiting parts from abroad. She subsequently died due to this delay in diagnosis.
Another death at the SFGH was 62-year old Pooran Doodal. His family publicly claimed he waited for four days on a chair at the Accident and Emergency Department before being admitted to the ward.
This matter was subsequently reviewed by the SWRHA but no public conclusions were made.
Facebook posts on a regular basis highlight major deficiencies in the public health hospitals and health centres.
In my research, there are many deaths due to negligence at our public health facilities yet leading public officials make bold assertions that we have the best healthcare in the world.
Patients are continuously being asked to bring their own bedsheets, pillows and toilet paper, pay for medication, and pay externally for blood tests and scans, while having the harrowing experience of long waiting times at A&E and delays in treatment.
The Government may not always have the trained personnel or resources at their disposal to fix the key issues plaguing the health system.
Therefore, at this time, I will offer, together with an experienced team of professionals, our assistance, free of charge, to the Ministry of Health, to make recommendations to strengthen our ailing healthcare services.
I do hope that as we confront the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we also confront the human suffering at our doorsteps in our health services so that we may ease the cries of “how many more must die.”