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EDITORIAL: Medical shortages must end

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Medical shortages must end

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A nation’s health is a nation’s wealth. It is for this reason that we welcome Government’s injection of $22 million into the cash-strapped, problem-plagued Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Minister of Health John Boyce made the announcement in the House of Assembly on Tuesday. Some $2 million will be available immediately.
It was extremely disconcerting to learn that the hospital had reached such a critical state where only urgent and emergency medical procedures could be performed because of the acute shortages.
The Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) had sounded the caution from last weekend when, in a statement, it said the hospital was facing its worst crisis ever.
Even more troubling was the detailing of the shortages at Monday’s BAMP meeting where the president, Dr Carlos Chase, said there was a shortage of sutures, equipment, gloves and linen. How can this country’s lone hospital, which treats hundreds of patients every day, reach this stage?
The announcement that only emergency procedures would be performed would have been concerning to many Barbadians. What about all the other patients who have elective surgeries scheduled? While it is true that these may not be emergencies, it is possible that the postponing of surgeries will create a bigger health challenge, not only for the individuals but also for the hospital.
Minister Boyce did try to allay the concerns of those having elective surgeries, explaining that the postponement was not an attempt to inflict greater pain on people. To his credit, he also assured the public that the shortages were being addressed.
It is, however, unfortunate that for some time, doctors and nurses have been working around these shortages to care for the sick.
The health of a people is simply just too important for this country to be caught in this kind of mess. Government can ill afford to have this situation recur, far less exist, right now.
While we applaud the swift action of the Government of pumping money into the hospital to deal with these current shortages, it is important that officials sit down with the doctors, nurses and staff to discuss the issues.
Prevention, they say, is better than cure. Putting a plaster on a sore is just not enough. Government can ill afford to have this situation re-occur, far less exist right now.
The haemorrhaging must stop, and stop for good. A cure needs to be found to make sure that these shortages are soon a thing of the past, never to be repeated.
The health of our nation is at risk.