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Moonilal knocks Govt wastage, collapse’ of sector

…Moonilal knocks Govt wastage, collapse’ of sector

OROPOUCHE East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal yesterday slammed the Government for ‘destroying everything in the health sector’ and accused it of wasting taxpayers’ dollars through highly expensive arrangements in the health sector.

He pledged that a UNC (United National Congress) Government will take steps to upgrade the terms and conditions of work of healthcare workers in the public health sector.

Moonilal said in the House of Representatives: ‘I want to indicate to the medical professionals, the doctors, the nurses, the administrators, to hold strain. The UNC is here. Hold strain!

‘Your suffering will not last much longer. We are here, we are caring, we are fair, we empathise with your situation and we are people-centred and we will take steps to improve your terms and conditions of work.’

He also promised that a UNC government will open the ‘Couva Children’s Hospital’ and will take steps to have a fully operational San Fernando Teaching Hospital.

‘There are rooms in that place, I am told, with cobweb. It have cobweb, mosquito and so on in some of the areas we designed with former minister the late Fazal Karim,’ Moonilal said.

He said the Nursing Academy ‘collapsed’ under this PNM (People’s National Movement) Government.

Speaking in the debate on a private motion calling on the Government to improve the state of healthcare delivery and address mismanagement in the sector, Moonilal said the Government, in a lease arrangement with a company called Asclepius Holdings and/or NH International, was paying $30 million annually for 15 years for the new Ministry of Health building, which cost $260 million to construct and which is built on land that belongs to the State.

‘One hundred and ninety million dollars more than the (cost of) building for $260 million,’ he said.

‘The Government could simply have used the land itself (to secure a loan) and build the building for $260 million. Why go through this intricacy to pay $30 million a year for 15 years,’ he said, adding that the Government needed to explain this type of arrangement.

Hiring people with party cards Moonilal gave other examples of wastage.

He said the primary generator at the San Fernando General Hospital failed on April 9, 2016.

‘Attempts to replace and repair (it) have proven unsuccessful over the years, citing (as the reason) unavailability of funds…. As a result, the health authority has been renting a stand-by generator at a cost of $75,000 per week from a company called Standby Power…at a total cost to date of approximately $1.4 million. This cost does not cover additional works to be done, including maintenance and so on…. You (the Government) could buy a generator for $2 million’ he said.

Moonilal said the incinerator at the San Fernando Hospital was not working and instead of repairing it or buying a new one, Government was paying $60,000 a week, plus transport, to remove medical waste.

‘They are paying a funeral home to incinerate body parts at a cost of $40,000 weekly and $60,000 to a company for waste management services,’ he said.

He said in the face of this, the Government paid $130 million to build a car park in San Fernando.

‘Another matter is the oxygen plant at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital; that plant has been out of service since November 2022,’ Moonilal said.

He said the SWRHA (South West Regional Health Authority) is spending hundreds of thousands annually for the ‘procurement of oxygen cylinders from Massy Gas Products Ltd’.

‘You understand what is happening here? Everything was working until 2015,’ he said.

Moonilal said this Government had put ‘square pegs in round holes’ and had put people to manage the health sector who didn’t have ‘one hour experience’ in that sector, creating a ‘mismatch between administration and medical experts and specialists’.

‘In Mt Hope, they are hiring people willy-nilly with party card,’ he said.

He said the Government went to Cuba for doctors, but there were 500 unemployed local doctors, causing local doctors to migrate and help develop other countries ‘because the Government has no room for them’. Buying Lasko fans to deal with hospital heat Questioning some of the statistics given by Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi, Moonilal said the ordinary citizen would be asking himself how in a country of 1.4 million people, the ministers could be talking about 2.6 million people being seen in the health sector.

He asked Al-Rawi to state the source of the data.

He said these figures were not a ‘stress test. It is not how many times you see the patient, it is the waiting time for the patient’ to access services.

He said people were waiting 12, 18 hours on a bench, days without a bed, while 214 beds languished at the Couva hospital facility. He said people were having to buy Lasko fans because the hospitals were so hot.

He said in preparation for the debate, he encouraged his constituents and persons in the healthcare sector to state their experiences.

‘And I had to take Panadol Utra when I started to get the replies,’ he said.

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