Terrence Deyalsingh

 Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh

AS the Carnival period approaches, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh is warning citizens to get vaccinated against the influenza virus or more people will die.

“We have gotten over one hump but we have another hump to get over which is the Carnival period, when the North Americans come down. If the population does not protect itself now, now is the time to get vaccinated, you will fall prey to the influenza type A and type B virus for Carnival and we will have more death. It’s as simple as that...My message is get vaccinated, forget all the reckless talk about vaccines, they are all false, there is no evidence,” he said while speaking to members of the media at the San Fernando General Hospital yesterday after he visited the first babies born for 2020 and their parents.

A release last month from the Ministry of Health stated that as of December 13, 2019, there were 32 confirmed influenza deaths for the flu season.

It added that the influenza vaccine is available at no cost at all health centres and that children aged six months to five years, pregnant women, adults over 65 years, people with chronic medical conditions and chronic respiratory illness are vulnerable to the virus and should be vaccinated.

Deyalsingh said this country is now considered a pariah state in the international medical community due to statements made in Parliament about the vaccine.

“Every year that I’ve been Minister of Health from 2015 to now, vaccine hesitancy is growing around the world...In Trinidad and Tobago, unfortunately, we have joined the list and we have shamed ourselves as a country because in the Parliament recently, you had a doctor getting up in the Parliament and by his words, the public has interpreted his words to mean that there is this raging controversy globally about the vaccine and there is none. So we are now shamed...You have to remember when you speak in the Parliament and it is carried internationally, you tarnish the image of Trinidad and Tobago.

“Trinidad and Tobago is now considered in the international medical community as a pariah state because someone got up in the Parliament and peddled vaccine hesitancy garbage and I, as minister have to work double time, over time, to counteract what was said and if he was reckless enough to say that in the Parliament, I wonder what is being told to patients in their offices, discouraging people from getting vaccinated and then you hold the Minister of Health accountable for deaths,” Deyalsingh said.

New hospital

Speaking on the plans from the Ministry of Health for 2020, Deyalsingh said refurbishment work had started at the San Fernando General Hospital.

He added, “We have to bring out the new Point Fortin Hospital by around March 2020, which is about three months away. We have to bring on the Arima hospital hopefully by around March 2020. We will continue with the construction of the new Central Block in Port of Spain. I have the new Diego Martin Health Facility to be completed by around August/September 2020. We have the new Sangre Grande Hospital, so infrastructure wise that is what we are doing.”

There has also been a request for a proposal for an operator at the Couva Medical and Multi-training Facility (formerly the Couva Children’s Hospital), he said.

Deyalsingh also said this month he will be making an announcement as it pertains to cancer treatment.

“We have never had an overarching policy to integrate the different aspects of how we treat with cancer. I will be making a major announcement by the middle to the end of January.”

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