Friday, April 26, 2019
Death comes calling equally for the poor and the privileged, it comes for the educated and the unenlightened, and it takes the young and the old just the same. Recent occurrences in our health system have struck a raw nerve with the Belizean public. The matter is one in a series of unfortunate events as the MOH would have us believe. Just bad, dumb luck? Or is it just dumb and lack of proper planning and administration of our resources? The morgue has not been operational at the Southern Regional Hospital from about mid-March. On April 2, 2019 family members of a recently deceased woman were forced to bury her in a closed casket funeral due to advanced state of decomposition. This caused the family much unnecessary grief and anguish.
Now this latest incident is just a testament of the ineptitude that has for the last 10 years come to characterize the MOH. We have borne witness to a rat infestation so enormous that it began in the Western Regional Hospital’s kitchen pantry and stretched over into the hospital nursery. One of those same rats was found chewing on the toes of a defenseless premature baby in an incubator. We have also heard accounts of snakes attacking nurses in that very same hospital. Who can forget the deaths of thirteen babies at the KHMH in 2013 due to a bacteria found in the neonatal unit? Even now there is a critical shortage of medicines countrywide for people suffering from a wide range of acute and chronic illnesses because government bureaucracy seems intent on squeezing out certain pharmaceutical importers and distributors of the private sector. The MOH seems indifferent to the plight and suffering of Ordinary Belizeans who cannot afford to travel outside the country to secure their medication.
The Minister of Health has been silent for all these gaffes. He prefers instead to have the PM, his CEO, or any other members of his staff face the public and to give account to Belizeans of his ineptitude. The recent press release has stirred the ire of the public yet again and does nothing to assure Belizeans that the shortcomings will be righted. Adding salt to an already profound wound is that GOB has “competing priorities” and even while they “acknowledge the need to purchase equipment for the morgue” MOH cannot give us a definite timeline as to when this will occur. Instead MOH tries to assuage us that they “hopefully have the morgue up and working over the medium term,” and then asks the public’s cooperation in the interim.
Quick research has unearthed a plethora of information on the procurement of mortuary refrigeration drawers. GOB will be ecstatic to find out that Alibaba.com lists a unit of 6 storage drawers for an average of $2000US. GOB may want to inquire if in fact they are eligible for any special family discounts to garner additional savings.
The Hon Gaspar Vega has been present for only a single Sitting of the House, since he resigned in disgrace from Cabinet in 2016, but has been collecting salary and community vote monies from the public purse. These monies, around 10K monthly, could have over the last three years alone bought Belizeans 72 cold storage units of 6 drawers each. Foresight, adequate planning, prudent fiscal management and proper administration are not qualities symptomatic of the current MOH by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, we hazard a guess that the shambles that is now the MOH is in fact representative of the total and complete system malfunction and corruption of the current GOB.
We have every confidence that Belizeans will swiftly deal with the multiple systemic failures shortly at the polls. #dealwitdem