ALBERT BRANDFORD: Desperation politics by BLP
POLITICIANS IN BARBADOS can be strange creatures.
And this is particularly true of opposition politicians when they think they have a moment to seize an advantage over the ruling party.
I am minded to this thought in the aftermath of the recent spate of what appeared to be an unusual confluence of circumstances that led to the sudden deaths of a disparate group of people that collectively didn’t fit a particular demographic such as age or gender.
But even after statistics were issued by a medical practitioner, though employed by Government but who still has his professional reputation to protect, the Opposition Barbados Labour Party appeared to feel that nonetheless it still had to point the finger, wondering aloud if the “stress” of the economic and social problems – which Government has a responsibility to manage – might not be a contributing factor.
Now I am not under any illusions that this is quite possibly the most inept administration in the history of modern Barbados, certainly within the last 50 years that I have witnessed, with its failed fiscal and economic policies alongside ill-considered projects mysteriously withdrawn, outrageous proposals that have been withdrawn after public outcry and oppressive legislated orders struck down by the High Court.
But to elasticise such circumstances into a possible Government induced mass stress situation that could have been a contributor ought to be beneath even the most desperate Opposition.
I am acutely aware of the dangers posed to health by stress – related circumstances having had my own battle a few years ago with Hodgkins, with the oncologist affirming that work-related stress might have been a contributing factor.
It was taken care of by an aggressive chemotherapy regime over 13 months and I pray fervently for it not to recur despite the unceasing work-related stress which seems to increase exponentially with each passing day.
And though I feel the hardship – like many thousands of others – of this Government’s poor handling of the affairs of state, I would not credibly be able to lay it on the Stuart administration.
But the Leader of the Opposition seems to have no such misgivings, having taken advantage of a visit to New York like many other Bajan politicians to make outrageous or controversial statements to the Press.
My favourite is that of a neophyte DLP politician who at the height of the Sandiford debacle insisted to the Press there that he could be a compromise Prime Minister. I am told that the statement almost had the unintended consequence of an instant healing of the fractured DLP!
But Mia Mottley’s recent musings over whether the “stress” triggered by the economic and social problems manifested in high unemployment, cutbacks in social services, crime and shortages of medical supplies were contributing to the sudden deaths, would have been just as hilarious if our circumstances, weren’t so dire.
“If you were on the ground in Barbados in recent days, you would have heard people quietly commenting on the fact that there was an extraordinary number of sudden deaths and people wondering what was it that was causing all of the stress and that people who you didn’t expect to be dropping down dead were suddenly dropping down dead,” she said.
This was followed by a nearly similar comment from the veteran St Thomas MP, who also dismissed the subsequently debunked rumour that the deaths were linked to the potable water supply, and insisted it was the stress of not knowing where the next dollar would come from or from being unemployed.
“And I don’t believe it is (the) water. A lot of it, for me, has to do with hypertension and stress,” Forde declared.
But acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George said the deaths were linked to the usual causes of sudden deaths in Barbados and universally.
He listed these as acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), brain haemorrhage, acute pulmonary embolism (clotting in the lungs) and acute arrhythmia.
Autopsy reports indicated the majority of the deaths were the result of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which were either poorly controlled, undiagnosed or untreated.
George said available statistics revealed only a slight increase in the number of sudden deaths in persons 60 years and under so far this year compared to 2015, and promised a detailed evaluation of historical data over the past five years to be published on completion.
In the face of such information from a medical professional, it seems to be just short of unnecessary desperation politics to seek to add these circumstances to the already blotted escutcheon of the floundering Stuart regime.