Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Commentary: Kamla takes a quantum leap in serving the people

PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar - Sharing a family's joy ... 
Today I wish to extend my congratulations to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for making what I consider a quantum leap forward in serving the people with her announcement Monday night that very soon her government would start paying doctors' fees for all.
As a citizen of Canada I am accustomed to this. My health card allows me to visit any doctor or clinic without having to pay fees for the service; my government covers it. 

I have had major surgery and angioplasty more than once and the direct cost to me was zero. Those services cost a fortune in Trinidad and Tobago. 

Now, thanks to a government that understands the true meaning of service to the people, everyone in Trinidad and Tobago would soon have that same security net.

For too long the poor in Trinidad and Tobago have had to make hard choices about their health care with meagre household budgets, trying to find food and other necessities while also making cuts to pay doctors when members of their families fall ill.

Many parents have had to sacrifice one for the other. A visit to the doctor meant no extra cash for school supplies or a new pair of shoes. The alternative was a long trip to a hospital or health centre and lengthy hours waiting to see a doctor. The stress alone could create even greater health complications.

With this new smart health care card, anyone can visit any doctor's office and not have to pay for the visit. And equally important, the system would allow the doctor to access that person's confidential health history in order to make a proper diagnosis and prescribe appropriate treatment.

This type is delivery is long overdue and demonstrates that Kamla and her government mean business and understand what is true development. A nation's health is its greatest wealth and programmes such as these do more for national development than towering structures that boost political egos without providing value to the masses.

Now every family can count on a few extra dollars to buy clothes for their children, to put aside to buy some of the things they could only dream about. This gesture that positively affects tens of thousands is an example of how a government can serve the people in a most direct manner.

Families would benefit, the work load for all health care practitioners would be drastically reduced, there would be reduced demand on the facilities at institutions and patients would be able to go to private labs and get services that the state would fund. That's progress!

Now let us take it a few steps further.

When I was a child in primary school the state paid for the services of a dentist to visit schools periodically for give each child a dental check up and take preventive or corrective measures. 

Let's include dental care in those health cards as a third phase. And perhaps, a little later, add vision care as well.

And while we are at it consider expanding the health care facilities to private hospitals as a first step to eliminating the two-tiered health care system. 

If you check the bed count at private hospitals in Trinidad and Tobago you might be amazed to learn that they might add up to several hospitals.

If we consider what it costs to build a equip a single 200-bed hospital (more than a billion dollars for one) we might find it much more cost effective to work out a fixed fee with private hospitals so that they can open up their services to every woman, man and child who is ill and needs hospital services, not just the wealthy and privileged. And instead of waiting several years to build hospitals we would have them immediately.

We do not have to reinvent the wheel. Canada's cherished universal health care system is an example to the world and despite some of its schortcomings, it is working well and serving all citizens. We can do it too - and do it better. 

Kamla has shown that she has the political will and the future looks good!

Jai Parasram - 08 October 2013 

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai