Teenage International

Sunday Brew — Aug 25, 2019

WITH HG HELPS
Editor-at-Large
helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 25, 2019

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Public relations vaccine cannot fix health sector, Dr Tufton

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton is batting on a bouncy pitch.

He has his bat, gloves, testicle protection box (I hope), but he obviously forgot to wear his helmet; and facing bowling with pace akin to that of England's Barbadian import Jofra Archer's 95 miles per hour bombers, he is bound to receive a few bruises and suffer some concussions if his technique is as faulty as it looks.

Try all he wants to appeal to the nation that healthcare is getting better in Jamaica, it is not growing at the rate at which it ought to, and no sweet talking can make the patient feel better. The situation is like having a sick person lying on a hospital bed waiting on some Augentin, Rocephin, Flagyl, or Insulin (I don't run a clandestine backyard practice), and the minister is whispering in his ear all the time 'you soon get better, you soon get better', without any of the drugs being administered.

There are too many complaints about the conditions under which medical professionals work, that have not been adequately addressed. At the other end, those seeking healthcare at public institutions islandwide continue to endure hellish conditions. Some will turn up at outpatient departments well before 7:00 in the morning and up to 4:00 in the afternoon they do not get the chance to see a doctor. That cannot continue. The doctors will say that that's a management issue, I say it's a 'don't care' issue. The fact is, if someone turns up at a private institution with the right amount of money, there is no problem, whatsoever.

There is a danger in a minister taking credit for every good, but hides when things are not in his favour. When 19 neonates died in 2015, then Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson was almost crucified. In 2017 alone, the records show that 649 neonates died under Dr Tufton's watch; and we are being asked to 'understand'. Things are getting worse. Last year, two babies were eaten by dogs at Victoria Jubilee Hospital. Not good.

There is a humungous shortage of drugs at public health facilities islandwide. That cannot continue.

I remember Ites Man (some say Heights Man), the popular football coach from Breezy Castle, Southside in Kingston who moulded hundreds of lives without adequate compensation, going to Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) from 7:45 one morning, saying that he was not feeling well. He waited, and waited, and waited to be seen. Finally, he decided to call another football coach whose daughter works as a doctor at the KPH. By the time she found him it was 4:05 pm. He died at 4:33. He might have had a chance had he been seen much earlier.

So that is one example in many that Dr Tufton, a man I am truly fond of, needs to address. The medical professionals must be given the tools, and when that is done, if there is no overall improvement, then the minister should either contemplate switching parties, or form his own and launch a huge pitch to improve the welfare of our citizens.

The disgrace of St Mary's Junction Road

Again, the people who use the Junction Road in St Mary are being put through hell. The National Works Agency has reinstituted travel restrictions that will make life miserable for thousands.

It appears that the first mistake in repairing the corridor between Broadgate and Agualta Vale was not to have given the near $600-million work to the Chinese, for the job is a mess. I'm sure that if the Chinese had been given that job it would have been completed already. As then radio talk show host “Motty” Perkins used to say “one Chiney can do five sumady wuk”. But since the project started nearly two years ago, it has been characterised by a lazy kind of approach to get it done. Those leaving the Corporate Area and heading to St Mary or Portland initially had to divert, because of the road's closure from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, and many would get lost, having to go through the bush of South East St Mary without adequate road signs. It's back to that stage again. Oh come on, NWA! Spare us!

Prime Minister Andrew Holness had asked for discretion to be exercised when the foolishness started. Maybe he should let us hear his voice on this one again. For the next six weeks, we are told, the road will be closed between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. So getting to Port Antonio, Port Maria and Annotto Bay from Kingston will again be a nightmare.

Did the mayor of Lucea really do that?

The Jamaica Observer report last Tuesday which stated that the Hanover Hope Foundation was refused the use of the Hanover Municipal Council's car park to stage its annual back-to-school treat for an estimated 400 children was shocking.

The allegation is that the charity, founded by Hanover Western Member of Parliament Ian Hayles, was being punished by Lucea Mayor Sheridan Samuels because Hayles supports Peter Bunting in the People's National Party presidential race, while Samuels is siding with Bunting's opponent, Dr Peter Phillips, the incumbent. If that is correct, then it would not only be a serious indictment on Samuels, but on Jamaica's politics.

Let's hope that genuine issues are involved. I know that Samuels can be petty and parochial, but that should not be to the extent of depriving hundreds of students of the opportunity to get school supplies. I would love to hear the other reasons that may be given.

What's the excitement about Raymond Pryce?

So Raymond Pryce has joined forces with the Dr Peter Phillips camp in the PNP presidential race. Big deal! That is not a good thing for the One PNP team going up against the Rise United brigade.

There is 'baggage' on both sides of the campaign, and one of the challenges that the next PNP leader will have is how not to reward some of the bandwagonists who have jumped on board, many of whom are ill-equipped to contribute, tangibly, to a better Jamaica.

In the case of Pryce, he served as Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth North Eastern and really did not do a good job of improving a 'safe' PNP seat. He has been wandering since, going over to St James, and back in Kingston where he made an unsuccessful attempt to become chairman of the PNP Central Kingston constituency. So what's so special about him?

Is it true that he had expressed an interest in returning to St Elizabeth as MP, but that such a wish did not gain any traction? The PNP needs to look at itself critically. The time has come for the party to do a microscopic evaluation of not only its existing election candidates, but those who harbour thoughts of going into elective politics, either again, or for the first time.

If that is done, I'm sure that Raymond Pryce would struggle to make the cut. What could have led the people of St Elizabeth North East to have lost faith in him in a safe seat? Was it about competence, overall performance, personal behaviour and habits, not being truthful, favouritism...? It would be good to know.

On the face of it, I don't see how adding someone like Pryce, who is bereft of a proven track record in representational politics, will enhance any team in the race for the PNP top job. Maybe there is something that will emerge eventually that will provide the key to unlock what to me remains a door behind which a mystery exists.


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