Two reasons to care, cheer
Robert Morgan

It is not often enough we see the nation's Parliament rise in bipartisan support of an initiative. What is more frequent is petty squabbling and near-shameful displays in the most honourable House, often without any principled positions.

News that this Administration has taken the necessary steps to effect two much-talked-about programmes has given us, in this space, reason to cheer.

First, is the recent establishment of the Disabilities Rights Tribunal.

After years in the making, minister with responsibility for information Robert Morgan announced the members of the tribunal during a post-Cabinet media briefing on Wednesday.

The Disabilities Rights Tribunal was conceived as the body to settle complaints that have to do with discrimination and other breaches of the Disabilities Act. It gives voice to the disabled.

We are told attorney-at-law Mr Emile Leiba will chair the body, supported by Ms Roxanne Kidd-D'Aguilar, Ms Nadine Allen, Dr Hixwell Douglas, Ms Christine Abbot-Rodriquez, and Mr Philmore Turnbull.

Just days ago, Opposition spokeswoman on labour and social security Dr Angela Brown Burke stated in the House, "Without this important avenue of redress, the Disabilities Act is a paper tiger and a symbolic move, nothing else."

This act, no doubt, takes away some of the shame policymakers must feel when they give lip service to matters that affect the disabled community.

The second matter is the substance of the Jamaica Observer's lead headline of the Thursday edition — 'More doctors'.

Unequivocally, the nation's public health system has been underresourced for many years. Old, broken and retiring equipment notwithstanding, that more physicians were needed to service the growing number of patients turning up at health facilities was impatient of debate.

The novel coronavirus pandemic amplified the needs of the system and exposed the raw wound of risk that was a crisis in the waiting.

As well, the paradox that for years several bachelor of medicine, bachelor of surgery (MBBS) graduates of The University of the West Indies remained unemployed played havoc on the nation's psyche.

At last the will to do better for the people of Jamaica who interact with this sector has been given the pride of place it deserves.

As we are buoyed by this move, we wait to see the deployment matrix. For, still there are health centres that see senior medical officers only once a month, if that frequently. And while there are needs in major towns, the neglect of several lesser-promoted townships rises to the level of indignity.

Though no fanfare is expected on these two matters, the potential impact on the lives of those who live with a disability or are struck by illness is the stuff that ought to warm the cockles of one's heart, even as there is acknowledgement that the struggle continues.

Politics is quintessentially the business of talk and announcements, but we relish when, amid the noise, comes action that impacts the lives of the people in a real way. Today, in an embarrassment of riches, we have two things to celebrate.

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