YET AGAIN, there are reports of panic among dialysis patients because another private medical institution has taken the step to refuse service due to the State’s tardiness in paying subsidies. While there are efforts to increase capacity at public institutions, the State has to acknowledge the need for co-operation with the private sector. To this end, it must get its payment processes in line with the basic corporate and contractual standards.
The State spends a lot to help citizens cover medical costs at private institutions. According to one estimate, the Health Ministry spent approximately $170.7 million for dialysis services between September 2015 and February 2018. Private institutions undoubtedly benefit from this degree of spending over time. Such institutions should place value on the long-term relationship cultivated with the State and should show the same degree of leeway which they might show a longstanding business partner.
At the same time, it cannot be acceptable for the State to not pay its bills in a timely fashion. Yes, there are economic realities which demand a tightening of belts. Yes, organisations should look at the bigger picture by contemplating the welfare of the public, both in terms of immediate treatment needs and the overall state of the economy. However, civic mindedness does not pay salaries and expenses. And basic standards of corporate decorum demand a more serious approach to the disbursal of funds.
Perhaps all should look to the recent collaboration between the State and NGO sector in Tobago as an example of the kind of synergies that need to be cultivated. Earlier this year, the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) partnered with Bridge of Life to introduce arteriovenous fistula surgery at the Scarborough General Hospital.
Bridge of Life is a medical non-governmental organisation based in Colorado, USA, founded in 2006. The concept was inspired by DaVita Inc, a leading kidney care provider in the US, which launched DaVita Medical Missions to improve kidney care in underserved areas of the world.
“Both organisations have come together to partner to improve the lives of renal patients,” said TRHA’s medical chief of staff Dr Rufaro Celestine. “We’re hoping that this joint programme can succeed and provide good healthcare for kidney patients in years to come.”
What’s not needed is continued tardiness when it comes to payments on the part of the State, and an aggressive approach by the private sector. Ultimately, all stakeholders also need to place greater focus on overall treatment.
“We haven’t managed the primary care side of it, that’s why we are where we have more persons than the number of spaces,” said Secretary for the Division of Health, Wellness, and Family Development, Agatha Carrington, last month. Prevention is better than cure.