Seventeen people were recent beneficiaries of $367,536 in medical aid from the Tobago House of Assembly.
The financial assistance is meant to cover medical procedures that are not available locally, as well as prosthetics and wheelchairs. Among the 17, applications were made for eyeglasses, pacemaker, below knee prosthesis, above knee prosthesis, special wheelchair, power wheelchair, arthroscopy repair and scapholunate ligament repair, craniotomy for frontal tumour and neurolyses procedure.
Health Secretary Tracy Davidson-Celestine said, "Once we have the resources, we do what we can to help those who have special conditions.”
She added, “We cannot always give that people request but, as the old adage says, ‘one-one cocoa does full basket.’”
The funding falls under the scrutiny of the medical assistance review committee, a multi-sectoral body established to assess applications for medical care for people who are unable to pay privately. The cheques are issued directly to service providers to ensure the funds are used for the purpose intended.
Dr Maxwell Adeyemi, chairman of committee, lamented the statistics on non-communicable diseases at the cheque-distribution ceremony.
“For a small population, we are not in a good place,” he said.
“On the national average, we are second in diabetes in the Caribbean; we are second and third in hypertension; we are third worldwide in obesity; and we are fourth within the Caribbean in terms of prostate cancer.”
He emphasised the need to take responsibility for one’s health. “Get more involved in your own health. The majority of our problems stem from diseases that are preventable.”
Davidson-Celestine noted, “Tobago has an average life expectancy of 77 years. The national average is 73. In Port of Spain, men live to their early 60s but women live up to their 70s. Women in Tobago can expect to live until 79, but Tobago men, on average, die five years earlier. If we take better care of ourselves, Tobagonians can live to a healthy old age up to our 80s.
"The division is here to encourage the needed lifestyle changes and to help those who have had the misfortune to suffer injuries or ailments.”