The truth about hypocrisy
It is very interesting that the TOP, in articles and elsewhere, criticises the PNM for two resignations within the Tobago health sector but does not see this as insignificant when compared to the number of Chairmen and CEOs who have resigned in the country since their installation by their UNC led partners.
And we must add to that list, the number of Coalition members who they have terminated, including the TOP Chairman and ex-TDC Chairman, Stanley Baird.
This is the same Tobago Organization of the People that accuses the health sector of no progress and 'plenty people' traveling to Trinidad for care, but this column dares them to compare the numbers with when they were in power under another name, prior to 2001. This column is not afraid of crunching those numbers because Tobago needs to know the truth about the hypocrisy of the TOP and their founding members.
Prior to 2001, there was a large number of services not available to Tobagonians in Tobago and many islanders had to travel by plane or by the 'slow boat' to Trinidad to access these services. This column reminds readers that prior to 2001, there was no 'two and a half hour' ferry service between the islands and it was in fact an eight to ten hour trip. The trip would have been prohibitive to many sick persons and for those who could go, it surely would have added to their increasing debilitation.
This column is aware that persons would have travelled to Trinidad for many services including those which are now available in Tobago. There was no Dialysis service until this PNM Assembly began the first service in Tobago in 2002 with two chairs and expanded it in 2011 to a total of 10 chairs so that no patient has to go to Trinidad for treatment, at this time. It must also be emphasized that because of the vision of this Assembly, this Dialysis Centre is the first to be operated in a 'health centre' (the new Scarborough Health Centre) thereby improving access to health and creating a more comfortable atmosphere for patients receiving treatment.
Ophthalmology services were not introduced until 2007 when an Ophthalmologist was hired to work full-time in Tobago at the Scarborough Regional Hospital (SRH) and this service is to be expanded. Cancer patients had to receive all their treatments in Trinidad until 2010 when the Oncology unit was opened at the SRH and this has brought tremendous relief to many Tobagonians who do not have to travel as often for cancer therapy.
This column reminds Tobagonians of the state of our healthcare facilities prior to 2001. Many were in a state of disrepair and totally unsuitable for the delivery of acceptable services when the PNM came into the Assembly. It was this PNM administration that dedicated the resources to refurbishing all of the 17 health centres and 2 outreach centres; operationalized the new Canaan Health Centre to provide an enhanced and extended service to Tobagonians, upgraded Roxborough and built the state of the art Scarborough and Charlotteville Health Centres to provide a quality service; and outfitted three additional outreach centres in Community Centres.
In fact, Tobago is now at the stage where it has more health and community centres per capita than any other land mass in the developing world, and this Assembly has continued to focus on the introduction of additional services that will further decrease the need for person to travel to Trinidad for treatment. These include the CT scan service and ICU which will soon be available at the new Scarborough General Hospital. Fellow Tobagonians, with so much evidence of the improvements and achievements of the past decade, we must condemn the poster of the TOP officials who continuously attempt to mislead and incite persons, only for political gains.
Clearly, the TOP has not understood the health system enough to understand when the Assembly puts down hard courts, tennis courts, lighted courts and recreational facilities throughout the island and are the major sponsors in most sporting activities, that those initiatives are also health related and contribute to the wellness of the society. The fact that there were three Carnival bands on the road portraying aerobics in Monday Night mas, one of which belonged to Division of Health and Social Services, and was 300 persons strong, is a reflection that the message of health is finally reaching the people who now understand that health begins with personal responsibility.
This column continues to be perplexed by the short-sightedness or maybe cynicism of the TOP in measuring the performance of this PNM Assembly. The yardstick of the economy is measured by the growth of the people and not just the infrastructure for which the Assembly may have responsibility. When one sits in traffic on the road, it is a sign of economic growth that so many persons can own cars; when one looks around at the landscape and sees the continuous increasing sizes of homes being constructed, that is a sign of economic growth; when one sees many of the banks expanding and building additional branches throughout the island, it is a sign of economic growth. In fact performance can also be seen when one sees the achievements of many Tobagonians competing nationally and internationally and admirably holding their own.
Prior to 2001, the country went through a recession and in addition to many persons losing jobs, many others left the island. People describe it as a period of extreme hardship where many persons even lost their homes. Therefore, this column congratulates the PNM Assembly and its leader, Chief Secretary Orville London for his steady and firm stewardship over the last decade that saw an overall growth in the economy as evidenced in the capacity of its citizens to grow. In particular, Mr. London and his team should be further commended for their ability to maintain the stability of the island's economy in these challenging recessionary times, which have seen the dismantling of so many economies around the world. We have seen what the TOP and their UNC Partnership colleagues have done to this country in twenty-two months. Compared to them, this PNM Assembly has done well.
THE Tobago Council
OF THE PNM