Mottley speaks on drug policy
GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN URGED not to play with the public’s health through its policy towards undocumented non-nationals.
That plea came last night from Barbados Labour Party (BLP) opposition Member of Parliament Mia Mottley, while addressing the party’s St James South branch at West Terrace Primary School. It followed Sandra Husbands’ unopposed selection to contest the seat in the next general election.
Mottley, who was not originally slated to speak but delivered the main address as a result of Opposition Leader Owen Arthur’s illness, said Government was risking a possible disease outbreak with its policy.
She said the children of non-nationals went to school and mixed with Barbadian children and to deny them access to the island’s free health care facilities was basically putting Barbadian children and the entire society in grave peril.
“Health is the most basic human right that there is,” she asserted. “It might not be so bad when you are looking on and you may think that someone might suffer from diabetes or a heart attack and that is not contagious.
“The Government might tell you that everybody will get medication for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. But how will you know that you have these ailments if you cannot afford to go to the doctor in the first place?” she queried.
Looking at costing, Mottley said it was a “false dichotomy” where Government spent only about $50 million annually on the Barbados Drug Service but approximately $65 million on the Barbados Sanitation Service and $57 million on the Barbados Transport Board.
She noted that even if Government wanted to sell to Barbadians the idea that it wanted to protect such social services as education and health care which constituted half the expenditure spent on transfers to public bodies, it had to enter into discussion with the populace on how best to cut costs since everything started with good health that should not be compromised.
“ . . . If some of us had to pay a smaller amount in another area we would not mind. But do not trouble my health. Do not trouble my ability to live, because when the recession is finished there is nothing to come back to,” she said.
Mottley suggested that even before the free education system was introduced, Barbados was the envy of most developing countries for its health system, but it could no longer make that boast.
She said she had received several complaints from pensioners who had been to polyclinics and were unable to get the usual drugs prescribed by their doctors.
She added that in a number of instances two drugs now replaced one and led to people not being able to use certain food and drink products or sometimes caused side effects they did not have previously.