Donville Inniss – Minister of Commerce, and International Business
“The Freundel Stuart administration says it is sticking to its guns to make Barbadian students at the University of the West Indies start pulling their pockets for tuition fees from next year even though welcoming a new private sector fund to bail out those who cannot afford to pay…The firm position was taken today by Minister of Commerce, and International Business, Donville Inniss, while launching a new charity known as Global Education Scholastic Trust…Inniss said the Government had done the right thing in the circumstances of the economic climate, and would carry through with it…It is not easy for me as a politician that would have taken in recent debates to reduce fees at UWI with effect from 2014, but it is one of those things we felt we had to do, and we stand by that decision.”
What else can one expect from an uncaring Government, whose scions – and probably their scions’ scions – have had a free education at the UWI Cave Hill Campus? The motto of this Government is now “after me the deluge”! Is this the same Government that Minister Blackett called people-centred? I guess he means centred around the 16 DLP Government MPs, but night runs till day catches it!
Minister Inniss can spare us his crocodile tears!
You do not have money for our students at UWI Cave Hill, nor for the QEH, but you have millions of dollars in waivers – including one for food and beverage which no hotel has had before – to throw at a multi-millionaire named “Butch” Stewart, although he took over a hotel here and promised to develop and refurbish it so that Barbadians could get work, but absconded leaving it to moulder and the iron in it to rust! This left those who had hopes of getting a job there up the creek without a paddle! “Is that “the right thing in the circumstances of the economic climate”, Minister Inniss?
“I would like to say to them, if they are incapable of running this country in such a way as to preserve these fundamental social rights of the Barbadian people – that is the right to free education, the right to free health care – then they should really relinquish the reins of Government and let somebody else try,” – David Commissiong
I Kammie Holder endorse the aforementioned comments despite the pervasive vindictiveness so evident in Barbados for speaking honestly and having an opposing view. The recent pronouncement by Honourable John Boyce that user fees may have to be introduced at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital QEH seems reactionary.
Below are 8 points why I am against any wholesale fees at QEH without broad consultation as required under servant leadership.
Should the money spent on sex education be re-allocated?
Having harboured a long-standing belief that the time, effort and costs associated with government and/or NGO supported education programs designed to modify negative or dangerous human behaviour mainly serves as a means of employment for the various program facilitators, it was heartening to learn, beginning two or three years ago, that the rate of new cases of HIV infection had begun to decline as the effects of educating people in safe-sex practices had borne fruit.
Now, though, we seem to be faced with a conundrum, as the Chief Medical Officer has taken to both print and visual media to warn of an alarming spike in cases of syphilis. As we are all aware of how this infection is transmitted, claims for the efficacy of safe-sex education go out the window. Importantly, eliminating this red herring in the reported decline of HIV infection should provide an impetus for researchers to discern the proximate cause for this phenomenon.
This is a very emotional issue for me so I will try to keep focused while making this submission.
Three months ago my father, the late Samuel Weekes sustained and injury while he was at the St Philip Geriatric Hospital.
Daddy was injured on the 11th of January 2013 and sustained what the attending doctor called “soft tissue damage”.
That Doctor prescribed Panadol, Paracetamol and Voltaren. Five days later, on the 16th of January, Daddy was transferred to the QEH.
Eight days later on the 24th of January, I received a call from the QEH indicating that Daddy actually suffered a fractured hip from his fall on the 11th of January during which time a doctor is prescribing Panadol and Voltaren.
QEH requested me to come and sign consent forms for an operation, which I did the same day.
In Barbados many think of the healthcare sector has those services delivered by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and to a lesser degree, the polyclinics. This is wrong. The video provided (16 min) is worth watching to dispel such thinking. As an educated nation in 2013 we need to keep pace with how progressive countries are managing healthcare to deliver a QUALITY result.
As I sat down to write this week’s BU contribution on a pressing financial economic matter, I came across the break out of serious antibiotic-resistant bacteria problems at our only hospital. Those of us familiar with the various infections that plague British hospitals would not be surprised that Klebsiella bacteria has now arrived at the QEH. I must admit, it did not come as a shock to me, since a friend and I have only recently been discussing the rat-infested, rubbish-strewn, health and safety hazard that is the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. But it was the compulsive, arrogant, obstinate greed of the doctors behind their objections to alternative medicine that tipped me over in to widening the debate on the future of the health service and long-term care. It is not a concern about patient care, nor about the general welfare of ordinary Barbadians, but rather a determine attempt to co-opt the attorney general in their little game of protecting their money-making interests. To put it in simple terms, we are in a deep cesspit of our own making, typified by the abandoning of the elderly, so-called granny dumping, for which the entire nation should be ashamed, yet all these expensively educated people could think about is their own bank accounts.
There are issues of more pressing concern that doctors should be involved in, such as the mortality rate at the hospital, the high costs of X-rays and MRI examinations, of overall poor patient care by doctors, who attend surgeries as and when they like. Few Barbadian doctors, aware that their profession is about public health and not just money-making, have raised their heads from the trough that is taxpayers’ money to battle for improvements in the state of public health. But, typically, they are more concerned about the continuing rise of unregulated medical practice – so-called complementary medicine – not in the interest of the public, but because this medical practice main block one of their most lucrative income streams.
Barbadians who know the Grant family were shocked to learn in April of 2012 that they were charged with the theft of over $1/2 million dollars. The alleged criminal act is reported to have taken place at the Sandy Crest Medical Centre in St. James. Bail was posted at $250,000.00 for each of the accused, with two sureties. Regrettably Carole-Anne Grant, the matriarch, has since passed no doubt as a result of the tremendous stress the matter had placed on her health.
And why was BU shocked? The conceptualization of Sandy Crest was entirely done by Dr. Malcolm Grant in 2003. The Grants – husband and wife team – later approached Dr. Brian Charles and as they say the rest is history. After several years of a happy partnership both the business and social relationship soured.
Group based at Simon Fraser University researching medical tourism in Barbados
The emergence of the private health care sector in Barbados has grabbed the attention of BU in recent times. One of the problems we face in Barbados is that we seem to make decisions without considering robust research. One such area is medical tourism. BU did a scan of the Democratic Labour Party’s Manifesto and we were not able to find any significant mention, and it was not a serious election platform issue. How important is medical tourism to the strategy to diversity our tourism product?
BU would have preferred the University of the West Indies to have undertaken any research to establish the viability of the medical tourism sector but we are not there yet. We note however that a research group based at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Canada has generated a study which can be used to inform discussion on the subject of whether to establish a medical tourism sector.
Chief Medical Officer Joy St. John (l) Donville Inniss former minister of health – Source: Barbados Advocate
Three months later a routine query from Peter Heimlich (the son of the man who created the Heimlich manoeuvre) remains outstanding. BU first highlighted this matter in a December, 07, 2012 blog – Asthma Study Conducted at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Questioned. Minister Donville Inniss is currently preparing to contest in a general election on Thursday, Peter Heimlich will likely have to wait a little longer for a response to his query about a medical study using the “Heimlich manoeuvre for asthma” conducted on 67 children.
Here is the letter sent by Peter Heimlich in response to an email request from the minister on Jan 5, 2013. BU wonders why a minister has to be so intimately involved in this matter. This is a routine request which one of the health administrators should have executed on weeks ago.
See a full report on this matter on Heimlich’s blog – The Sidebar.
The following was posted on another BU blog by Nostradamus
Nation Newspaper today Feb 14, 2013 front page headline “Dengue worry”. Start of the story says “There has been a worrying spike in dengue cases so far this year. And the Ministry of Health views the situation so seriously that it has issued a bulletin to doctors, reminding them to report any suspected cases of the disease.”
Further on it says the Ministry of Health stated in a release that among other things that it would maintain surveillance at various sites and one of those areas noted is WETLANDS. Is the Ministry of Health aware that the sluice has not and is not functioning and that there has been no effective wetland water level control in place for many years ? No interchange of sea water and fresh water that is so vital to the health of the wetland and for a vibrant fish population to control mosquitoes naturally? When the sluice gate worked, it was possible to raise the water levels and get water flowing through the canals. Flowing water in the canals means fewer mosquitoes.
Introduction: They are off, the race is on, and thoroughbreds and also-rans are lining up as if they rightly deserve to be in this race. But, this is the general election that will define Barbados for the rest of our history; as electors we can either reject the old-fashion vulgar, always cynical rhetoric and demand dynamic new ideas and vision to rescue us as an economy and a nation. This is, or ought to be, the real deal.
As voters we can either retreat in to our comfort zones, and play the repulsive petty party game, or as citizens of a forward-looking nation we can make tough demands on those who aspire, who selected themselves, to be our political masters. Constituents must put hard questions to these candidates, they must demand clear and frank answers, no ‘maybes’ or ‘let me think about it’ or any other obfuscation or playing for time. But first, every candidate must pledge to freeze parliamentary salaries for the duration of the next parliament, they must abolish the scandal of parliamentary pensions and replace them with a one-off lump-sum pay off when rejected by the electorate (a six month resettlement grant seems fair).
Reviewing the Stuart Years:
People must ask themselves if the Thompson/Stuart years have delivered the policies and dynamism that the country needed at this particular time in our history. They must also reject any attempt to blame the previous government, an excuse that might have worked in the first months of coming to power, but as time went on, became more and more unacceptable.
In two earlier blogs BU asked Minister of Health Donville Inniss to clarify a couple issues regarding his involvement in a company called Fiesta Catering. He is a public servant and taxpayers deserve some respect if public documents caused us to raise concerns. Instead he used his time on the airwaves last week to direct a tirade at ‘the blogs’. We are disappointed that he has not addressed our questions, we know he monitors BU.
The fact that traditional media who we know also monitor the blogs have not followed the issue is to be expected.
Here is another matter we hope Minister Inniss will find the time to address. BU understands that Colostomy bags are provided free for patients who have had this procedure. Patients are signing for a high quality bag called Coloplast and the hospital is charged for this but the patients are being provided with a lower quality Generic brand that costs half the price but is charged to the hospital full price.
Minister the question is simple – is the above (in blue) true?
Peter Wickham, talk show host, pollster and social commentator join many others daily to spare no opportunity to sing the praises of Minister of Health Donville Inniss. Perhaps it explains why he was invited to Inniss’ New Year bash? If in the minds of many Inniss is doing a good job then all credit to him he must be doing some thing right. Despite the praise being heaped on Inniss BU remains concerned at the state of the healthcare system in Barbados.
In the Christmas message of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners’ (BAMP), President Carlos Chase was highly critical of the management of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH). To quote a local daily newspaper: “BAMP has also slammed the lack of progress in talks between them on ongoing contentious matters. The continuing shortages at the institution came under fire from BAMP too.” Implied in the report is that the industrial relations climate at the QEH continues to simmer read Alexandra. The QEH is the primary health institution in Barbados which falls under Minister Donville Inniss.
Of wider concern to BU is the emergence of a budding private healthcare system in Barbados. We are not knocking entrepreneurship but BU reserves the right to question and to share our observations in the interest of promoting transparency and encouraging elucidation. A comment on an earlier blog questioned the lack of transparency by government regarding the Al Barrack transaction. It is ironic that more than five years ago the late David Thompson promised an electorate hungry for change that should they win office – and they did – they would introduce a level of transparency in government hitherto unseen. With another general election looming Barbadians have a chance to be judge and jury.
Of course the DLPites will challenge Barbados Underground (BU) because we are about to ask a few hard questions of a DLP minister. In a recent contribution to debate in parliament Minister Ronald Jones confirmed that ‘the blogs’ are not partial to one political side or the other. BU agrees with Jones, it is an uncompromising characteristic of BU.
Before he [Inniss] became a member of parliament he was involved in managing a portfolio of offshore companies. There was the revelation that a few of the companies included in his portfolio were x-rated websites. Minister Inniss publicly declared when he was challenged by the media that the x-rated websites were no longer part of the stable of companies he had an interest. Further, in keeping with what is required he had ceded the management of his business to others when he was appointed a minister; BU assumes to his wife Gail Williams-Inniss.
In the absence of freedom of information legislation the public is left to accept the word of Minister Inniss. We have no evidence that Inniss has been less than truthful but in the interest of satisfying transparency, the public should have recourse which a FOIA would provide. Regrettably a general election is about to be called and the draft FOIA continues to languish in the office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel.
The documents attached show that Minister Inniss was served to appear in a matter in Virginia.
Recently, the British intellectual and journalist, Will Hutton, asked the question: “How do you successfully break a mistaken and destructive intellectual consensus?” It set me off immediately thinking of the cosy social world and the mental processes in which the political, professional and academic elites in Barbados conspire to converge on the same ideas, which are implemented in much the same way, often by the same people – and, no matter which party is in control, they all expect different results.
Two ideas come to mind: the break of the consensus by the attorney general on the silly and ill-advised decision to plant taxpayers’ money in to the Four Seasons project, which he rightly sees as a private investment which should be let to private investors. The other is equally as irresponsible, the decision to build a spanking new Bds$800m hospital in Kingsland. Both ideas are loopy and reveal the poverty of our policy-making, especially when it comes to major capital projects.
First, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, opened to the public in 1963, which competent and firm management cannot sort out. What patients are complaining about are issues such as time-wasting, spending hours before being seen by a doctor in Accidents and Emergencies, of under-productive nurses spending time on the wards talking to each other while surgical patients are in pain and crying out for help, over-paid and arrogant, sometimes even questionably competent, doctors being on the public payroll while spending their time looking after their private patients. The list goes on. So, to the ordinary man and woman in the street, the real problem at the QEH is not the building, although that us falling apart, but what goes on inside the building.
Now isn’t it ironic that the parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Health, Senator Virginia Irene Sandiford-Garner happens to be the DLP candidate for St. Andrew, yet her administration takes a decision to site the new general hospital in Christ Church? Totally disadvantaging the folks in the northern parishes encompassing St. Andrew, St. Peter, St. Lucy (DLP stronghold held by Minister Denis Kellman), St. Joseph, St. Thomas and St. James.
Does the DLP really plan on making any inroads into the constituencies in these parishes? Certainly that decision to site the new general hospital will impact on Senator Sandiford-Garner’s chances as DLP candidate for St. Andrew in the next general election. Wait a second…was not her specific function as dictated by the late PM David Thompson the redevelopment of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital? By deciding to move ahead with a new general hospital, does it signify that the goodly Senator has failed in her role to redevelop the QEH?
Yesterday we heard the Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, indicate that the site chosen for the new $800MM hospital is in Kingsland. Firstly, I state that I am pleased that Donville Inniss has taken an open approach to the blogs, by choosing to comment. I also think that Donville has a good political future. However, there are issues related to the new hospital and its location, that I wish to highlight, as relevant to all projects.
Firstly, on the point of location, we are told that relevant stakeholders have discussed this, or at least the news report refers to the Town Planning etc. My question is, how can relevant stakeholders be seen to be consulted, when the citizens of the country have not had an input? This is not a canteen at a school, where the head and Board or Ministry can decide. This is an $800 million facility, the only major one, for the country. I am not saying that a referendum is necessary, but certainly town hall meetings and a public panel (we so love commissions and panels) is actually relevant here. Can we see a preliminary report, that demonstrates why the site is suitable as agreed by Government, Town Planning, doctors, the QEH administration?
The directors of Warren Healthcare Complex were ‘commended’ by Minister of Health Donville Inniss at its launch earlier this year. In his address he was quoted: “…the state cannot provide all services to all residents and hence it is my considered opinion that we must encourage the private sector to provide services which may or may not be provided in the public sector…”. The report details the players who formed the partnership to make the Warren Healthcare Complex a reality. Although it is not mentioned in the report quoted, BU understands that Peter Harris, one of the principals of CGI – is Chairman of the recently opened Warrens medical facility. The truth be told BU welcomes entrepreneurship wherever it rears it head but we have to be vigilant!
BU has been keeping an eye on how ownership of the private healthcare sector in Barbados has been taking form. Not many Barbadians are aware that then Minister of Health Jerome Walcott bought a 20% stake in Diagnostic Radiology, a company owned by the emerging deep pocket Peter Harris. Of course Walcott has a ‘front man’ who sits on the Board of Directors to represent his interest! Peter Harris we understand owns Diagnostic Radiology Inc; Teleradiology Inc; Emergency Room Inc; MRI Services Inc all key players in the healthcare sector.
To date BU has not been able to uncover any evidence which gives Minister Inniss beneficial ownership in any of the private healthcare facilities in Barbados. This includes The Sparman Clinic. What we have become a little uncomfortable about is the high number of government radiology requests which originate from the QEH and polyclinics which find their way into the private healthcare system. BU readers should recall Dr. Richard Ismael’s concern about Dr. Alfred Sparman allegedly being allowed to poach patients from the QEH. As citizens we have to begin to connect the dots. We are suppose to be an educated people.
Mrs Ram Mirchandani (r) on location with Minister of Health Donville Inniss – photo credit: Nation
The decision by the Ministry of Health to direct the owner of Furniture Limited Mrs Ram Mirchandani to clean-up her establishment must be commended. It is an action which is decades late in coming. While it is unfortunate this government had to be coerced into making the decision by citizen lobby, credit is still due.
Over the years Barbadians have marvelled at how Mrs Ram Mirchandani seemingly was allowed to transgressed laws designed to protect. For example, how was she allowed to operate the Liquidation Centre on Lower Bay Street and in the process impede traffic caused by lorries and bobcats engaged in loading and offloading activities in the left lane? What about the hotel at Oldbury in St. Philip built with a Games Room which many believe was deficient if safety and health rules were to be applied? What is the purpose of our regulatory bodies anyway?
To understand what has contributed to Mrs Ram being able to acquire wealth in Barbados, one has to appreciate she is a past President of the Barbados Manufacturers Association and has had a close association with the Barbados Chamber of Commerce. No doubt she has contributed to the coffers of both political parties and the media has long held the lady who wears the sari in awe because of the alacrity she is willing to sue. If you are able to win favour from the political directorate and Fourth Estate then the path is clear to do whatsoever will.
Kudos to Minister Donville Inniss who must have given his consent for the public health offers to make the move.
Image extracted from Facebook, BU apologizes if anyone finds it offensive
Successive Barbados governments in the last twenty have shown little appetite to develop a vibrant agriculture sector. There is now a resignation by all but a few that the way services go so too the economic fortune of Barbados. The Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) chief spokesman on economic matters Clyde Mascoll is on record dismissing any significant investment by his government in the sector, reason being the high cost of inputs. The commonsense view that investing in a homegrown agriculture sector has more to do with addressing food security seems to be lost on policymakers. Of course there is the other reason which has to do with protecting our right to grow food which is not genetically modified and at the same time align with the positive message that healthy lifestyle is a worthwhile endeavor.
This government has uttered the correct messages regarding the need to etch an agriculture policy. However after four years there is not much one can honestly agree has been accomplished. There is the news making the rounds that the government currently has several acres of land under fruit cultivation. The project is expected to supply local demand. Up to the time of posting this blog BU was unable to identify the location. The reality is that members of government reflect the values of the society which produced them.
Yesterday my grandmother was admitted into one of the District hospitals. Her caretaker (one of her children) left three new house dresses, two new night gowns, a new pair of bedroom slippers in the suitcase next to her bed until a plastic clothes locker could be bought. With a permanent marker and in large print my mother marked her name and ward. My mom while on the ward saw a box of cereal on top of the refrigerator. Knowing that my grandmother doesn’t eat that she asked what is served for breakfast. The nurse asked her “what do you want to know that for?” and did not disclose that info.
They said that since my grandmother was new, she might want to walk off or give trouble so they restrained her to her bed by tying her hands and around her waist. While we understood that we wondered if she would be in those restraints all day and night without a chance to walk around but we figured that since she still uses the bathroom on her own, she would get mobility when she had to go there and also for showers. However, the nurse then informed the caretaker and my mother that they were to buy diapers for her and they said well she uses the bathroom on her own and she said well we will put her in diapers. Water settled in my mother’s eyes at the thought of leaving her mother there, it was hard decision. The nurse saw her and said “what are you crying for? Ppl have to die” My mother told her “she is my mother and it is difficult for me to leave her here”.
Homosexuality has become a hot button issue in Barbados like many countries around the world. It has morphed to a civil rights issue. Has anyone noticed the alacrity with which some of Barbados’ prominent citizens rally behind this cause?
On the other hand there is a group of people in Barbados who have been marginalized and stigmatized more than any other. If you are known to be afflicted with a mental illness the average Barbadian will shun you like a leper. If you want to live a ‘normal’ life do not visit that Black Rock facility.
While all the focus is on the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) goings on at the Psychiatric Hospital in Black Rock has been slipping under the radar. This current state of affairs reflects accurately the importance Barbadians and officials alike view the importance of mental care. Hopefully the day will come soon when the opinion of the psychologist will be given the same weight as the medical doctor.
Another feature of mental care in Barbados is the way patients are treated at the Black Rock institution. BU is aware of mentally ill patients referred to the Psychiatric Hospital by the Courts who have had to endure the most inhumane treatment. In some cases the treatment meted out can be compared to what a person remanded to Dodds would expect; being made to strip to the birthday suit and not to forget the obligatory ‘injections’. Anyone can suffer from a mental disorder given the stressful environment which has enveloped all of our lifes.
Have just returned from The Bahamas where I delivered a presentation on the future of culinary tourism…so I was very pleased to see all the above comments re food except for alien’s own. Sir or Madam – this is a blog about food not about sexual food but real food, the kind one puts into one’s stomach through the mouth – how black and white sex gets into here is beyond me…but I guess some minds just are able to turn everything into a barrage against whites because of historical facts whether they were good, bad or ugly (and they were all but it is past and these sexual unions have produced a wonderful colourful people of all hues, some who eat healthy food and others that open their mouths and immediately show what their stomachs are filled with so that the brain is never in gear with today’s life but seems to have been left to fry in the dirty oil of history. Whilst we should not forget, we should be happy we are now gorgeous Caribbean people with great soul food, and turn our thoughts positively about that! To each his own sadness I guess.)
Yes! Fast Food is not cheap. Yes! Fast food is unhealthy. This cry has been going out now for a very long time. But the fast food business is booming and will continue to do so because we are a lazy lot. And yes! what we do not realize is that Fast Food is also ‘addictive’. And yes! Fast Food can cause us to spend more with the doctor (they are happy…has anyone seen a poor doctor ’bout hey?).
Barbadian expectations were raised when the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) switched from being a department of government in 2002 to being run by a statutory board. We were convinced by the then government that the autonomy of a board was just what the doctor ordered for the QEH.
Successive governments have had to battle many challenges when asked to manage our premiere health institution. To read the full-page ad which was placed by BAMP in the weekend newspapers detailing yet another conflict with the Board of the QEH would not have registered on the cognitive index of the vast majority of Barbadians. We have come to expect it. One is left to wonder why the industrial relations climate at the QEH always seem to ring of a discordant note.
Based on what BU has observed over the years the problems at the QEH are many and solutions difficult. The question which has to be asked is whether healthcare delivery is now being compromised as a result of unresolved issues between doctors and Board which have been outstanding for too long. BU’s sense is that there is a hardening of positions at the QEH. According to our sources the junior doctors especially are being asked to work extremely long hours which means there is no work life balance and a 12 hour day is not uncommon. A spirit of cooperation which was part of a now distant culture has reversed to the detriment of the patient. As if this isn’t enough some in the know believe the quality of Interns entering the QEH in recent times is inferior compared to that of old.
Barbados has always prided itself on its standard of healthcare delivery, the unsettled industrial climate at the QEH over time is beginning to undermine it all.
The question which Barbadians can legitimately asked is whether the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) has a Public Relations Officer, and if that officer is trained in the discipline of public relations. The other question which can be posed, is BAMP a trade union and does it believe – by its decisions – in maintaining a good industrial climate? Why is it relations between BAMP and the government always go down the acrimonious route more often than not? Why is there a perennial stridency in the dialogue between BAMP and all and sundry or so it seems to John Public. When Doctor Jerome Walcott was Minister of Health it did not seem to make a difference.
From the public’s perspective the current behaviour on display is not good enough and parties on both sides of the argument need to act more responsibly. Frankly we do not care who feels they have a legitimate grouse.
BAMP is within its right to call a meeting to discuss whatever it believes is of concern to its membership. The Minister of Health is within his right to question why BAMP would schedule a meeting at a time to ensure disruption to Barbadians seeking medical attention. Where both are guilty is dragging the matter in the public domain. It seems highly unprofessional and insensitive to the public both parties should be committed to serving.
Recently the Barbados government trumpeted the appointment of Dr. Trevor Hassell who is the new Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases Czar, the official title conferred is Special Envoy for Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCDs) in Barbados.
It is no secret Barbados has been struggling to curb the rising number of Barbadians afflicted with CNCDs. BU despite the preponderance of evidence remains optimistic that Dr. Hassell’s appointment in addition to the focus it will bring on CNCDs will yield positive results. If we can compare against the success of Dr. Carol Jacobs who was appointed Czar of HIV and AIDS fifteen years ago, the jury is still out on whether Barbados has been successful in significantly curbing HIV/AIDS penetration.
The sad reality however is that the growing number of Barbadians suffering from CNCDs is probably linked to lifestyle behaviour which is a global trend. There is a media report which suggests: “the number of adults who have been diagnosed with diabetes worldwide has more than doubled since 1980 to 347 million, a far larger number than previously thought, a new study has found.” Diabetes is just one of many CNCDs which is giving cause for concern for a few in Barbados. It is a problem which continues to strike at the national purse given our ‘free’ healthcare policy.
Over the past few months there has been much discussion and media coverage of issues related to health care policy in Barbados. Despite the volume of media coverage I remain unclear as to a number of issues, which restricts my ability to adequate assess the health care policy issues being raised.
From what I have been able to glean there are three issues out there:
Only nationals and permanent residents are now entitled to free health care in Barbados.
Persons eligible for free medications who choose to purchase such medicines at a private pharmacy are now required to pay the processing fee charged by the pharmacists to public patients and previously paid by the government.
A number of changes have been made to the drugs on the formulary and medicines previously available free of cost are no longer available free of cost.
The latest controversy in Barbados is about the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) running low on cancer treatment drugs and local drug suppliers inability to respond in a timely manner to purchase orders. The CEO of the Queen Elizabeth Dexter James was interviewed in the media on Wednesday about the matter and he was very terse in his condemnation of the Barbados Drug Service as the agency responsible for supplying drugs to the QEH in a timely manner. To be expected they are those who have taken the opportunity to make political mileage out of the issue.
It seems the only hospital in the world that did not know of a cancer drug shortage was the QEH given Dr. James publicly stated position. The 12 cancer suffering patients who need the drugs in question should not have to listen to James pointing fingers at the Barbados Drug Service. Dr. Dexter James should have been aware there is a cancer drug shortage on the world market. Here is an extract from CBC Canada website:
“Cancer drug shortages are forcing Canadian hospitals to scrounge for medication to avoid delaying treatment, CBC News has learned. For weeks, hospitals and pharmacists across Canada and in the U.S. have struggled to cope with spot shortages for about five chemotherapy drugs. Many of the medications are decades-old, highly toxic cancer drugs that kill dividing cancer cells and are mainstays of cancer treatment.
What has been interesting to observe has been the reporting by local media about the cancer drug shortage which has had the affect of stoking an existing debate about changes to the drug service. cbc.ca”
Senator Francis Chandler was quoted in the media recently that Barbadians seem to seek comfort in being controversial nowadays. Here is another example of it.
What is all the hullabaloo about regarding who should get free healthcare in Barbados? Is it not a simple matter? You show proof of Barbadian citizenship and voila, the transaction is done. If it were so simple. It seems we live in times when to be educated does not mean an ability to be solution oriented.
BU has delivered some deserved licks to Minister Donville Inniss in the past on how he handled the Ishmael Sparman matter and a few other matters. There is that name Sparman again! The Minister is always the first to remind Barbadians he is the son of a fisherman and therefore his back has the texture of a turtle. On the matter of enforcing the rules which direct who should get free healthcare, BU is 100% behind the minister. It seems every matter under the sun has to be politicised nowadays in Barbados to satisfy political expediency.
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) opposition led by Mia Mottley has started to rail about the health of Barbados coming under threat because of the improved vigilance demanded by Minister Donville Inniss on who gets free healthcare. A policy of enforcing existing regulation appears to be separating the legal from the illegal. The minister is on record promising favourable consideration to Barbadians who have been lazy in processing their ‘papers’ to the Immigration Department and therefore have been exposed by the process.
While in Ghana a couple months ago I cannot remember seeing obese persons, what I did see was plenty of markets selling vegetables and no brand name fast food restaurants. In Barbados our lifestyle coupled with our progress have led us to the enviable position of amputation capital of the world and a country in the Caribbean with a high population of obese persons. Thus it may surprise you we spend $53 million in drugs; $36 million is spent with private pharmacies of which $12 million is dispensing fees. My research has uncovered that the ratio of generic to branded drugs on the formulary has being about 70:30 for the last 10 years.
As a person intimately involved in the sale of medical insurance every effort must be encouraged to forcible engage doctors and pharmacist to eliminate wastage when prescribing and dispensing without compromising care. I dare say a more holistic approach must be taken by doctors rather than offer drugs for every ailments rather than suggesting exercise and the changing of eating habits.
Some, will be offended to know that over $250 million is spent to treat Non Communicable Diseases and other related illnesses, there is also the indirect cost, loss productivity, disruption to family cohesion. Every citizen has a choice to exercise, reduce sodium and eat healthier. Persons with cars are very selective in what brand of gasoline they put in their cars yet anything is placed in our mouths.
…take health care for instance. We are educated to believe that doctors and prescribed medication help us to get well. Billions of dollars go into this industry. In many cases ailments can a be avoided through diet and lifestyle and there are powerful medicinal properties in substances that are deemed illegal by our lawmakers. We are educated to believe there is no cure for cancer, and will (like a religious zealot) feel that anyone that claims otherwise is a madman … Maat
According to that ubiquitous source Wikipedia, “education in the largest sense is any act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character or physical ability of an individual. In its technical sense, education is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another.”
The above extracts are instructive in the context of the current debate on whether the government is getting value for money given the significant investment it continues to pump into tertiary education. Some like Professor Michael Howard are of the view that we must be cognizant of the harsh economic conditions, a key consideration in the amount government should transfer to the UWI, Cave Hill. Others believe education must be supported at ‘all cost’ if we are to enable our people to compete on a global scale.
Dr Ishmael, as a senior member of the Consultant staff of over 30 years, is held in high regard by the Ministry and Board of Management of the QEH.
The decision to suspend Dr Ishmael was done only after consultation with a legal and industrial relations expert and in the best interest of both Dr Ishmael and the QEH. It is consistent with current practice where a serious breach of the Staff Rules is alleged. A full investigation into the matter is being conducted.
It is important to note that in June the Board was advised in writing by Dr Ishmael that he could not guarantee that he would be renewing his contract which expired in April of this year. Notwithstanding, the Board delayed advertising the post of paediatric cardiologist, given Dr Ishmael’s standing at the QEH and also to accommodate the personal and professional commitments that took him away from his duties for considerable periods. Notwithstanding these prolonged absences, the Board received no correspondence from the Department of Paediatrics on the “increased risk of adverse outcomes” similar to the one issued after only one day of suspension.
As promised, here are the documents – this is the first tranche as the files are large, it took a while to get them scanned and if you don’t act soon? Someone else will as not only Caribbean but every news entity across the globe has been told. This is the background below:
A few weeks ago a story broke but the traditional media hardly seemed interested. Don’t they want the truth? Don’t they care when the innocent is being abused and un-faired? While the traditional media seem totally disinterested, Barbados Underground was running a blog asking: “Is the Barbadian Population being properly served by its news media.” But if the truth of the recent issue between Sparman, the Health Minister and Dr. Ishmael are know, the answer to this question would have been obvious.
The question is, does the traditional media want the truth? Secondly, exactly how committed to the proposed Freedom of Information legislation are the members of the ruling DLP government, especially since not long ago, we were being told that government ministers are: “squeaky clean,” now this!
This is a response to the article on the subject of free medication. According to the Minister of Health only permanent residents and citizens of Barbados are entitled to free meds from the drug service.
What I would like to know is why people domiciled in Barbados with immigrant status are being denied free diabetic and hypertensive meds by the pharmacies of Barbados?
These people are paying NIS like everyone else. Many of us have been living in Barbados for over 20 years with immigrant status, we even voted for the present government and we are being denied our rights. We are not illegal immigrants nor do we have work permits. Some of us have businesses and are creating jobs for many people. We pay all taxes like everyone else so why are we being denied the right to free meds? We are not benefiting from paying these taxes so why pay them?
Many Bajans marrying Guyanese and Vincentians and their spouses are granted permanent residence within 2 yrs, then these spouses getting all the benefits and they aren’t paying no taxes yet they reaping the sweets. They are living here 2 yrs and getting free meds while I and many others who have been living here 20 plus years and paying taxes are being told by pharmacists that we have to pay for meds? Tell me how is that fair? I do not have a work permit but I have to pay for my meds, why?
If I had the right to vote for 20 years why should I not have the right to free healthcare? Unless of course you want to take away my right to vote too because I only have immigrant status?
What is the definitive policy action that the Government has in place for our Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH)? This question remains unanswered in my humble opinion at today’s date. Let me explain to you why this is the case.
Before the DLP came to office in January 2008, then Opposition MP Richard Sealy proposed the much talked about Rescue QEH Plan. The intimate details of this plan were never presented but it seemed like a catchy phrase or buzzword to throw at us the tax-paying public that definitive and critical action would be taken to improve the QEH.
After the change of government in January 2008, the then newly appointed Minister of Health Dr. David Estwick publicly announced that a new hospital would be constructed and he cited amongst other reasons, the limited room for expansion of the QEH, its position in a low lying flood plain and the cost involved in revitalizing an aging plant as opposed to constructing a new one amongst others. Within two weeks of Dr. Estwick’s pronouncement, Prime Minister David Thompson refuted this saying that no decision had been taken as yet and that a decision would have to be made by his Cabinet as to whether to build a new (and second) hospital or to revitalize the QEH thus pouring cold water on Dr. Estwick’s earlier statement.
Submitted by the People’s Democratic Congress (PDC)
Over the course of several years, and especially within very recent times, in Barbados, the PDC has been agonizing over the lack of a national role by mental health professionals, like psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, etc. in the educating and informing of the Barbadian public on many mental health psychological issues and problems affecting it, or some sections of it, as a significant consequence of Barbados becoming an increasingly specialized complex dynamic 21st Century society, or as some would say, an increasingly chaotic bedlamic one.
Moreso, in as much as we in the PDC really do know that psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, do perform their respective professional roles and functions in private and public practice, and would have individually undergone years of training and tutelage before becoming mental health professionals, we are yet to properly know why they are NOT being regularly heard or seen by ourselves – and we suppose by many others in this society – giving enough information and advice in the mass media, or in public lectures, in public seminars, or through reading or video material – to general public on a variety of mental health psychological issues and problems that fall well within their respective professional domains.
Indeed, this absence of public participation by such mental health professionals is quite unlike their counterparts in the physical health arena, unlike lawyers, teachers/educators, trade unionists, police, parliamentarians, etc., who altogether though are often heard seen by our party and so many other people giving information pointers advice, in so many public communicative deliberative forums and channels, on so many public social issues and problems that fall to their respective professional domains.
The Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) is a union which is feared in Barbados. It does not matter how rich or well-positioned socially, the fear of not having a doctor available to attend to an unexpected malady will strike fear in the hearts of most. In this regard BAMP in the opinion of BU has exploited their position of influence through the years to the point where renaming the association the Barbados Association of Medical Untouchables maybe more appropriate.
The current impasse between BAMP and the QEH Board caused in the main by the non renewal of contracts of two long serving consultants is the latest in the woes of the sole public hospital, once a symbol of excellence in healthcare delivery in the region. The release of Head of Department of Radiology Dr. Rambarat based on media reports was because of inefficiency. Today’s press quotes Rambarat’s colleagues questioning non delivery of CT scans to facilitate the best healthcare delivery. It is interesting that the concerns about the lack of CT scans should come from Dr. Carlos Chase the head of BAMP and Dr. Harish Thani the head of Accident & Emergency (A&E) Department.
Dr. James (l), Minister of Health Donville Inniss (r) - Image/Barbados Advocate
The pending industrial action at the QEH can only be about greed by the doctors and sensational behaviour of the NUPW. Speaking to a union delegate to the issue, it is a case of relief workers who are also called casual workers. These are only called in by management to fill in when someone is on holiday or sick leave.
The NUPW is claiming that they have an expectation to fill any suitable vacancies over anyone else. QEH Board has taken the position that it must hire the best persons at all levels, like private sector companies do, and are seeking to put clear recruitment policies in place.
As a former Salesman of Hospital Supplies, I will give an example. Meal carts being sold to QEH for as much as $10,000 when the real cost was $2,500 unpadded. Mr Dexter James, the Minister and Board must stop people from outsourcing to themselves. The mafia style syndicate must be broken up among QEH doctors and employees. Consultants cannot continue to give private patients priority over public ones. The QEH must work on a formula on consultants public private consultations, thus the resistance to accountability.
A visit to the asthma bay at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) reveals it to be a hive of activity day and night. Our information is the QEH owns three to four nebulizers, unfortunately all of them are not always in working order.
In recent years the rise in the number of Barbadians suffering from asthma should be of concern to the country at large. A couple years ago the death of sports journalist Terry Mayers brought the condition fully to the public’s eye. It seems too many Barbadians are happy to resign themselves to the condition by having the ubiquitous nebulizer close by.
It is therefore good news to learn of a recent study conducted in the USA which discovered in 85 African American children tested suffering from asthma; they all registered a low level of vitamin D in their blood tests. At this stage more research is required to conclusively prove that a low level of Vitamin D is responsible for causing asthma in African-American children. However in light of the early findings from this research, it makes sense for parents of Black children to ensure the diet of their children is rich in Vitamin D.
You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for,that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.
– Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931
Yesterday the Nation newspaper featured a story on the frontpage Baby John Doe. The essence of the story, to highlight the plight of a mother who is has been unable to register her baby, eight months now and counting. At the core of the problem is the fact the mother is an illegal immigrant, for over TWENTY TWO years and has become a statistic in the government’s new immigration policy. BU admits it is a good human interest story and we hope a solution is found to ensure the child and her mother are removed from the inhumane position they currently find themselves.
HPV PREVENTION. Dr Joel Palefsky, an infectious disease expert from the University of San Francisco (left with Dr Mark Gilbert and Dr Natasha Press), told the gay men's health summit in Vancouver that all boys should be vaccinated against HPV. (Nathaniel Christopher photo)
The next general election is over two years away if held when constitutionally due. The health of the economy, freedom of information, integrity legislation and immigration issues we suspect will feature prominently on the next general election platform. Another issue we suspect will be on the list is one of morality, specifically homosexuality.
The members of the BU family who have been with us from our early days know the interest we have shown in homosexuality (do a search of BU using ‘homosexuality’ keyword). It is one of the pillar issues we feature from time to time even if of late it has not featured on the BU rotation with the same early frequency. Interestingly the subject of homosexuality is one which a high level of hypocrisy can be levelled in Barbados. Whether we like the Jamaican approach Prime Minister Bruce Golding has echoed the position of most Jamaicans, zero tolerance to batty men in his cabinet because he feels it does not reflect the public position. Jamaicans appear to wear the label of homophobic like a boy scout would wear a badge of honour.
In Barbados we have a long way to go regarding how as a country we want to deal with the issue of homosexuality. BU remembers very well prior to the last election listening to representatives of the Democratic Labour Party (Dr. Byer-Suckoo) and the Barbados Labour Party (Reverend Joseph Atherley) dipsy-doodle around the homosexuality issue. In contrast Jamaicans are sending a clear message. Some Jamaican homosexuals are not being deterred and have started underground churches. The venom of Jamaicans directed towards homosexuals have forced many homosexuals in Jamaica to go underground. Stories of Jamaicans suspected of the homosexual lifestyle being publicly beaten by fellow Jamaicans are a matter of record.
The local health authorities released the news last week Barbados has confirmed 60 plus cases of people treated for the H1N1virus. Of concern was the 5 year old reported among the group. As a small island dependant on tourism should Barbados become more aggressive in its Swine Flu education campaign? As we understand it the fact the virus can mutate to a more dangerous form represents a serious threat. Thanks the two family members for their submissions.
If you are interested in reading why you should NOT take the H1N1 vaccine, and how the pandemic maybe an orchestration fby our trusted agencies eel free to read the 6000 word dissertation below!
See what is taken from the drains on Tudor Street, BRIDGETOWN/Thanks to SSA PRO Ian Bourne
The appointment of Dr. Dennis Lowe to oversee drainage in Barbados has made him the butt of many a political joke by people on the other side. BU agrees though that the removal of Dr. Lowe from the social and empowerment ministry was a demotion but his responsibility for drainage should not be trivialized because of it.
We are pleased to observe the work of the Drainage Unit working in tandem with the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) to challenge the problem of clogged drainage systems. It seems that we have entered an era to find Barbadians who are not environmentally friendly. Images in the Press recently have exposed the problem caused by littering, illegal dumping and bush which has significantly contributed to flooding around Barbados.
Whilst we are at it. Those commercial houses in Bridgetown especially should be made to feel the weight of the law for mismanaging garbage disposal. Nothing will change until the laws of Barbados are enforced. Continue reading →
BU wonders why as consumers we respond to the rising cost of living by identifying rising food and fuel costs and the like but we are willing to ignore professional fees which have been galloping out of control in recent years. At the top of the list are legal and medical fees which seem to be fixed by arrangement.
Doctors and lawyers are worshipped by Barbadians. We make appointments to seek their sacred services and behold when we arrive we have the mandatory wait before we can get an audience.
For many years we have known that some of our doctors dispense drugs from their desk’s drawers. Many of the drugs are known to be samples distributed by the pharmaceutical agents to promote their respective drugs sales. Barbadians not to offend the goodly doctors meekly open purses/wallets to pay for drugs which should never, never be sold.
In some other countries, by other people this behaviour maybe deemed unethical, criminal even? In the prevailing depressed economic climate BU sources have advised of another practice which we find disturbing.
Last week we listened to VOB92.9 radio referring to sources that the government plans to reopen the St. Joseph Hospital. We don’t have to remind the BU family about the political football which was played by the previous government concerning this issue. The end result was that a multi-million dollar facility was left to go to ruin and the reputation of Senator Branford Taitt was impaled.
BU’s resident medical Guru Dr. Georgie Porgie has been calling for the expansion of the Polyclinic services to disperse the concentration of demand from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Porgie’s recommendation would have been given the thumbs down recently by the new Minister of Health Donville Inniss. BU agrees in principle with Dr. Porgie’s hub and spoke solution for healthcare in Barbados, our issue is that we can’t see how the government can allocate the required resources to make it work i.e. financial and staff.
One of the burning issues in healthcare in Barbados has been the efficient staffing of our health system by our nurses. Over the years Barbados has developed a good reputation by its healthcare professionals, especially our nurses. The former government instituted a major policy change at the hospital by shifting to a Board of Directors. The process required that the tenure of nurses be transferred to a new arrangement. In the process we understand many of our precious nurses were lost for one reason or the other.
Last week the BU family engaged in a spirited discussion on the blog post titled Beware Of Cervical Cancer Vaccine Gardasil! The discussion tossed up an interesting issue that the preponderance of vaccines being administered to our children maybe the cause of many maladies which appear to be infesting our communities. One example which ROK a BU family member opined was to reference that the high levels of mercury in vaccines maybe directly responsible for an alarming rise in Asthma, Autism and other sicknesses.
Although Barbados has enjoyed an acceptably high level of healthcare over the years, there has been growing concernin some quarters in recent times about our healthcare system. Should we have to say that the concern transcends political lines? Barbadians have been more than alarm at visible levels of mismanagement within our healthcare system at the QEH, polyclinics, medical associations and even the drug sector…
We want to thank Roosevelt O. King (ROK) for consenting to do the grunt work on the suggestion by the BU letter, family to lobby stakeholder health organizations on this matter. The objective is to encourage them via a to use their offices to agitate for quantitative and qualitative work to be done to ascertain the effect vaccinations being delivered to our children today are having on their health now and later on in life.
Minister David Estwick in his contribution to the 2008 budget debate cited several difficulties which he has encountered since assuming the post of Minister of Health in January 2008. Since the halcyon days when Senator Branford Taitt was Minister of Health, the QEH stock has been diminishing at a concerning rate for Barbadians. In 2008 the problems at the QEH appear to be complex and will take the cooperation of all the players to ensure that the healthcare dispensed from that institution is not compromised. Minister Estwick from the House of Assembly has sent a clear warning to the several factions at the QEH that enough is enough and he will be taking decisions in the interest of the PEOPLE of Barbados.
At the centre of his frustration appears to be two core issues:
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Board is being undermined
Some Doctors at the QEH appear to be shortchanging the PEOPLE of Barbados by ‘moonlighting’ on the job. Consequently the core medical pool which is required to ensure an above adequate healthcare delivery is under threat. He cited the example of Consultant Brian Charles who appear to be a jack of all trades if we are to judge by the number of hats he is currently wearing. Then there is the matter of the Human Resource practitioner whose contract was terminated.
The Minister Estwick has sent a strong message in a way only he can, he will not be tolerating any behaviour which seeks to undermine the authority of the QEH Board – see media release below written by QEH Board Chairman
The untimely death of freelance journalist Terry Mayers which was triggered by a violent asthma attack should serve to raise the national discussion about asthma. The increasing numbers of people who suffer from the condition has made asthma a household word.
How many of us are educated to what is the condition?
Asthma is a chroniccondition involving the respiratory system in which the airways occasionally constrict, become inflamed, and are lined with excessive amounts of mucus, often in response to one or more triggers.allergen, environmental tobacco smoke, cold or warm air, perfume, pet dander, moist air, exercise or exertion, or emotional stress. In children, the most common triggers are viral illnesses such as those that cause the common cold. This airway narrowing causes symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing. The airway constriction responds to bronchodilators. Between episodes, most patients feel well but can have mild symptoms and they may remain short of breath after exercise for longer periods of time than the unaffected individual. The symptoms of asthma, which can range from mild to life threatening, can usually be controlled with a combination of drugs and environmental changes. These episodes may be triggered by such things as exposure to an environmental stimulant such as an
Public attention in the developed world has recently focused on asthma because of its rapidly increasing prevalence, affecting up to one in four urban children
We have verbal confirmation from a medical source that the cost to Barbados linked to asthma has been rising at a rapid rate. Maybe GP, a member of the BU family can produce the numbers to paint the exact picture regarding how this ailment has taken root in Barbados. World Asthma Day is highlighted during the month of May, and World Asthma Day was celebrated on May 06, 2008. Our thanks to BU family member Adrian Hinds who provoked this blog. As you would expect the local media has been low-keyed by the lack of hype which that have given to World Asthma Day.