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Ghettoising Health Care in POS
Posted: Wednesday, December 21, 2005

By Stephen Kangal

The decision announced by the Honourable Prime Minister to establish another hospital in POS reflects the huge credibility gulf that separates what he preaches in public from what he hatches in the privacy of the PNM monopolistic fringe. Last week Manning boasted to the Central Chamber of Commerce that political affiliation did not influence the decision-making process of his government. No one rightfully believed him.

In the very next breath he uses naked political and ethno-nationalistic considerations to locate another hospital in POS.

Firstly it must be appreciated that in T&T geography, politics and ethnicity are inseparable if not identical. Secondly, all citizens irrespective of where they live, have an alinenable right to equality of treatment not only in respect of access to new employment opportunities but also in respect of easy access to health-care and other services.

Why locate another major hospital in POS when Chaguanas is without a hospital. Chaguanas easily accessible to citizens from North, South, Central and East and West? Must we not decentralise from POS and really integrate this society by making all communities equally accessible to services? Why do we in Central have to travel to POS that is emerging as the Bomb Capital and therefore endanger the safety of patients or place their welfare in jeopardy? Where is the equality of treatment even from a geographical view point? Who will get the ancillary jobs at the hospital? Why must citizens have to travel so far to access health care in cramped location with inadequate parking and other obstacles? We must be told why another hospital POS in this ad hoc, vikey vike decision-making scenario?

I firmly believe in the imperatives of achieving real internal cohesiveness and balanced development. You cannot deliberately continue to deprive our citizens to equality of treatment in so many areas of national life. You cannot exclude communities and then begin to wonder why our society is polarised? Geography coincides with ethnicity. Is this hospital's location another manifestation of PNM's ethno-nationalistic agenda?

Proper planning should tell us to establish a major health facility in Central having regard to Manning's own admission with respect to the exploding population growth, the expanding industrial base in all parts of Central and urbanisation. That is the natural way to go. But political expedience rules in T&T. You are building a major hospital in Tobago with enormous overruns to serve 60,000 people. But you cannot accommodate the entitlements of the law-abiding and tax-paying of Central?

The people of Central must rise up and put a stop to alienation and deprivation from equality of treatment. Urban renewal and duplication of services cannot and must not take precedence over rural regeneration because the former is beneficial to one ethnic group that will get all the jobs. The women of Central have a fundamental right to develop their nursing skills in a nearby facility.

We will have three performing arts centre within a half-mile radius in POS. So why not also two hospitals side by side PNM-style?

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