The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) recently presented 17 persons with cheques worth $367,536 for medical procedures that are not available locally, as well as prosthetics and wheelchairs.
Tracy Davidson-Celestine, Secretary for the Division of Health, Wellness, and Family Development, said, “Once we have the resources, we do what we can to help those who have special conditions.
“We cannot always give that people request but, as the old adage says, ‘one one cocoa does full basket’.”
The financial assistance falls under the strict scrutiny of the Medical Assistance Review Committee (MARC), a multi-sectoral body established to assess applications for medical care for persons who are unable to pay for specific types of care that are not available in the public health care system.
The cheques were issued directly to service providers to ensure the funds are used for the purpose intended.
During the cheque distribution, MARC chairman, Dr Maxwell Adeyemi, presented some alarming statistics on non-communicable diseases.
“For a small population, we are not in a good place. On the national average, we are second in diabetes in the Caribbean. We are second and third in hypertension. We are third worldwide in obesity, and we are fourth within the Caribbean in terms of prostate cancer,” Adeyemi said.
He emphasised the need for “self-efficacy” – taking responsibility for one’s self.
“Get more involved in your own health. The majority of our problems stem from diseases that are preventable.”
Davidson-Celestine noted that Tobago has an average life expectancy of 77 years. The national average is 73.
"In Port-of-Spain, men live to their early 60s, but women live up to their 70s. Women in Tobago can expect to live until 79, but Tobago men on average die five years earlier. If we take better care of ourselves, Tobagonians can live to a healthy old age up to our 80s. The Division is here to encourage the needed lifestyle changes and to help those who have had the misfortune to suffer injuries or ailments.”
Recipients were in receipt of funding for the following:
• Below knee prosthesis
• Above knee prosthesis
• Special wheelchair
• Power wheelchair
• Arthroscopy Repair and Scapholunate Ligament Repair
• Craniotomy for Frontal Tumour
• Neurolyses procedure