SFGH

The Emergency Department of the San Fernando General Hospital. Photo: DEXTER PHILIP

Since December 16 last year, I posted the following on Facebook: “Under this harden administration, without apology, the Health Administration has crashed. We the people have to intervene...”

At this time Trinidad and Tobago is going through the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic while we are faced with the consequences of the worst state of unhealthiness we have had for a long time.

Covid-19 is only one part of our health problems.

Citizens must demand that the health administration pay very critical attention to the comorbidities which lie behind every death during the Covid-19 pandemic. After all, they form part of every report in the daily Ministry of Health news conferences.

The comorbidities make up a group of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which include cardiovascular problems, diabetes, cancers, chronic lower respiratory diseases, sickle cell anaemia and mental illness, all of which are preventable or sometimes remediable.

Most people know the names of these disorders, but can we say with certainly that there is public knowledge about how we may prevent or mitigate such diseases?

Compared with the programmes about Covid-19, is there anything that we can identify in scale with any one of these problems? Are there daily statements? I emphasise, DAILY.

We, the citizens, have to take responsibility for our health. My recommendations could be taken altogether or individually. By intervention, I mean that just as many citizens have turned to social media for information, so too we can use the various platforms to gain credible knowledge on which we may be able to make sensible judgments.

We should visit any health centre where there is usually written information in the form of pamphlets which the Ministry of Health has printed in large numbers. And we have to read them, for heaven’s sake!

We have to insist on regular visits from health personnel that we used to have previously—people like public health inspectors (sanitary inspectors) and district nurses.

In addition, we can adjust our daily routines to incorporate more exercise, better diet and the avoidance of stress.

Once the schools are open, we should lobby for a regime of physical education teachers who will not only train pupils for sports, but will be able to observe, alongside the other teachers, the early signs of physical problems among pupils. We could also bring back subjects like hygiene.

Private and State-sector companies should enhance their staff’s capabilities by running their own programmes, possibly by offering special incentives. Likewise, it would be good if the labour unions pay attention beyond the traditional struggle for wages and benefits.

If there is no national awareness of the effects of the NCDs, we shall have problems. If there is no effective programme of preventative medicine, we shall continue to have problems.

If we do not look out for ourselves as well as our neighbours, we cannot overhaul the mess we’re in now.

Aiyegoro Ome

The SINUHE Centre

Mt Lambert

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