Both Ministers in the Ministry of Public Health ventured away from their air-conditioned, plush offices on Brickdam and traveled to Region 6 last week, pretending they were there to commission significant upgrading of the health sector. In the aftermath of the December 21st No-Confidence Motion, APNU+AFC has embarked on a desperate charade, a “circus”, to demonstrate they care for the people. After four years of total neglect, after four years of bourgeoisie-style and elitist government, the NCM woke them up. Just a few days ago, they stepped out of their castles into their front lawn at the Square of the Revolution, a mere one to two minutes walk, for a circus deemed “bringing government to the people”, never mind the people had to travel to see the Ministers in the Ministers’ front lawn. After that circus failed, the Ministers are desperately seeking some other way, any other way, to fool the people.
It is this desperation that brought the two Ministers in the Ministry of Public Health to Region 6. If the Square of the Revolution fiasco was the “biggest circus ever” in Guyana, the foolishness of this rare Region 6 visit by the Ministers was, simultaneously, farcical, disgusting and insulting. While the Ministers were present in Region 6, the whole area from Fyrish Village to Bloomfield was out of any potable water service from GWI. Thousands of families were exposed to major inconvenience, facing a serious public health threat. Neither Minister showed any concern, providing no evidence they care an iota for these Guyanese sisters and brothers, for the thousands of Guyanese children living there. Sadly, a young woman in Williamburg, a small community about 5 minutes drive from the Port Mourant Hospital, was brutally murdered by her husband and neither Minister found it necessary to visit the family or address the out-of-control domestic violence against women and girls. Even as that tragedy was playing out, workers from the Albion Sugar Estates were on strike, their families further burdened, but neither Minister engaged them.
While savoring the idea of an appreciation dinner in their honor, the two Ministers went to New Amsterdam Hospital, totally ignoring the shame that the mortuary at New Amsterdam Hospital is closed and families who are already traumatized by the death of their family members must pay to use private mortuary services. The Ministers ignored also that just within the last two weeks, residents in Region 6 have been protesting poor services at the Hospital and the high-handed behavior of the present CEO. The Ministers pretended that nothing was wrong at the hospital, ignoring questions surrounding maternal and child deaths at the hospital and the chronic medicine and medical supplies shortages. But the Ministers were gleeful that there was an appreciation dinner on their behalf.
Besides the local health officials prostrating themselves on the feet of the Ministers at their appreciation dinner, the two Ministers, pretending they brought profound new and improved health services, went and commissioned a refurbished kitchen at the New Amsterdam Hospital. After neglecting maintenance for the kitchen and after millions of dollars of questionable spending at the hospital, two ministers showed up to boast of a refurbished kitchen as a big health achievement for APNU+AFC and as an important upgrade of the health sector for Regions 6 and 5. The kitchen, of course, is important for the hospital. But the refurbishment would not have been necessary had they maintained the kitchen, rather than the total neglect since May 2015. In the meanwhile, the Ministers ignored that a High-Dependency Unit was constructed, but remained unused because it was constructed in the wrong place. It is a shame, an absolute disgrace.
The Ministers went to Port Mourant Hospital to re-commission the Port Mourant Ophthalmology Hospital. This important hospital has been dormant, literally closed soon after the May 2015 elections. After four years of ignoring the Ophthalmology Hospital, the Ministers, like Knights in Shining Armors, showed up to re-commission the hospital. They failed to announce that the hospital still will not resume its main function, provide eye surgeries, like cataract surgeries. They did announce an outreach eye care team from the US military will be using the facility to perform some eye surgeries. This US military medical outreach has existed for almost two decades, it is an important and successful outreach program, but this does not solve the problem of a once successful hospital being virtually closed for almost four years now. What were they commissioning?
This kind of comedic behavior is shameful. It is disgusting that taxpayers money is being used in such a wasteful manner, for a show. The Ministers’ outreach insult has not escaped the people. They see it for what it is – a farce, disgusting and insulting. The people are not fooled. Their eyes are wide open and they are waiting impatiently for the elections because more than 80% of Region 6 cannot wait to register their rejection of these Ministers and APNU+AFC. The Ministers may be able to parade, in a charade of power, but the people have a simple X that is far more powerful than anything APNU+AFC has.
Dr. Leslie Ramsammy
Always tell someone how you feel because opportunities are lost in the blink of an eye but regret can last a lifetime.