Now is the time to build out health infrastructureTuesday, August 10, 2021
In most instances companies that plan ahead are able to survive even the most austere conditions because they, by engaging in that exercise, make adequate preparations for uncertainties and possible downfalls. The upshot is that those companies are able to capitalise on opportunities for growth and development, emerging stronger from crises while their competitors oftentimes face failure.
Our reflection on the commendable practice of forward planning is driven by comments we made just over a week ago about the lack of a comprehensive plan from the health and wellness ministry to prepare the country for the continued presence of COVID-19 and the likelihood of future pandemics impacting Jamaica.
It is instructive that to this day neither the ministry nor its portfolio minister Dr Christopher Tufton has said a word to the country about whether they have any such plan in place, or that they have even given the idea any thought.
In our previous commentary we noted that COVID-19 has exposed Jamaica's abject unpreparedness to handle epidemics or pandemics.
We are reminded of that frightening reality with news from the Ministry of Health and Wellness on Sunday that the rise in COVID-19 cases has overwhelmed public hospitals across the country.
For months Dr Tufton and the chief medical officer had been warning that the country would likely experience a third wave of the virus. Well, we are now in that third wave, but we are yet to hear from these officials, or their technocrats, what plans have been made to deal with this crisis.
What seems to be at play here is a lack of foresight, planning and communication.
Certainly, as we argued before, there needs to be great focus on planning to ensure that the country has the capacity to respond to a future pandemic threat and the continued presence of COVID-19.
One of the surest ways to do just that, we hold, is to build out our hospital and medical infrastructure with supporting beds and equipment.
Based on what is happing now, it is crystal clear that the current infrastructure is inadequate. Even before the on-set of the novel coronavirus pandemic there had been outcries of inadequate facilities.
Upgrades, as announced by Minister Tufton in his contribution to the sectoral debate, are welcome, but that alone will not correct the deficiency in a system that has struggled to properly serve the Jamaican people for years.
Now, we believe, is the best time to seek funding for such a comprehensive build-out of our medical infrastructure designed to give us the ability to respond to the pandemic, and any future epidemic, while improving public health facilities for other patients.
This, we reiterate, is an investment that must be made. Neglecting it is not an option. The Government was elected to lead. It should not give excuses about lack of resources when the country's very existence is at stake. The effort requires hard work void of public relations and an insatiable appetite for 'likes' on social media.
Our health workers have been giving yeoman service treating people with the virus and implementing the very important vaccination programme. They, too, need to have access to the type of facilities and equipment that will allow them to show their true potential.
Instead of continuously jump-starting the engine, invest in a new, reliable one.