TOBAGO House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles has admitted to challenges within the Tobago health sector.
He was responding to a question from Newsday on the heels of complaints by 68-year-old Yvonne Alexander last Wednesday, that the X-ray machine at the Scarborough hospital is non-functional, and there have also been reports that the CT and the MRI machines are also not working.
“Parts have to come from abroad and those things take time… but I can’t confirm the status at this time. What I do know is that there are mobile units that are used in terms of the X-ray.
“It’s easy to say that is why we are pushing preventative and we’re saying get checked at an early stage. I go for regular screening, once a year and at that point… once you go in regularly you don’t need a CT scan. That comes in if there seems to be evidence that there may be cancer. But I’m saying we’re moving to treat with prevention in a way that we haven’t done before. You also have to bear in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day but its built day by day.”
In admitting to the challenges, Charles said even within the context of constrained resources, his administration is moving to have them addressed.
“We have recognised that there are some challenges in the sector… that is why as part of our programme when we came to the people, we talked about decentralising some of these services to take the pressure away from the hospital.
“We don’t have private people doing healthcare as they do in Trinidad, and therefore the system here, from time to time, will be overwhelmed.”
Questioned about the quality of the maintenance given to the equipment, Charles said while the administration has a responsibility, the workers at the institution also have a responsibility to adhere to.
“These are some of the things that we need to talk about sometimes. Perhaps the time has come when we need to understand that your taxpayers’ money that we try to use in particular ways, sometimes the purpose is defeated because of the attitude of some of those who work there and you need to know that.
Further questioned about the senior managers sent on administrative leave to facilitate a payroll audit, he said, “The audit is still going on. There was a delay because it was difficult to retrieve some documents at a particular point in time.”