THA Minority Leader Kelvon Morris says Secretary of Health, Wellness and Social Protection Dr Faith BYisrael is yet to implement any new policy of her own.
He accused her of “riding on the groundwork of the former administration (PNM).”
“We have no issue with them continuing good policy. However, in the same breath, credit should be given where credit is rightfully due,” Morris said on Wednesday in a WhatsApp message to Newsday.
He was referring to the World Health Organization (WHO)/Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO’s) donation of 15,000 antigen test kits to Tobago to assist with its covid19 testing capacity. The kits arrived in Tobago on January 21.
A statement from the division on Tuesday said the commitment for the donation was made among BYisrael, PAHO representative Dr Erica Wheeler and key members of their respective teams at a virtual meeting on December 15, 2021.
The statement also quoted BYisrael as saying, “This is a significant development for which we are indeed grateful. These test kits will increase our testing capacity and ultimately improve our covid19 response on the island.”
BYisrael thanked Wheeler and her team for the donation, saying, “We will definitely put them to good use almost immediately.”
But in his WhatsApp statement, Morris said he had been told the negotiations for the antigen kits began during the tenure of former secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development Tracy Davidson-Celestine.
“I am being advised that the shipment of the 15,000 antigen kits were actually initiated under former secretary of health and the PNM, which commenced with the shipment of ventilators and this latest donation was a continuation of that relationship established with PAHO,” he said.
On January 17, as part of an 11-point plan for tackling covid19, Morris called for a more expansive use of antigen testing to get an early grip on the virus.
On that occasion, he said his team had been consulting with experts in and outside the Tobago health sector to assess the challenges and "advance some clear actions to mitigate the deadly effects of the virus."
Morris had said, "One of the first areas we looked at is identification of positive cases, and it's proposed we introduce a community-based, free rapid test throughout Tobago. This will help us to identify and isolate positive cases faster, and therefore minimise community spread."
On Wednesday, Morris said he had also been told the Infectious Disease Centre, which is expected to be opened next month on the site of the old Scarborough Hospital at Fort King George, is not a new arrangement.
“It was actually first launched by Tracy Davidson-Celestine. Even the employment of Dr Nathaniel Duke (medical chief of staff at Roxborough Hospital), who is now giving support to Tobago’s covid19 response. His recruitment was approved by the PNM-led executive council as well.”
He added the installation of the mobile mortuary was also “well-advanced by the former administration,” as well as acquiring an additional step-down facility at Lowlands.