Best: Picking sense out of MoH nonsense; Dr Fuad Khan’s broadside at Piarco Covid system

EPL Infrafred Sauna

“This makes no sense,” Dr Fuad Khan thunders at one point in his latest online sermon. “Whoever did this system is a dunce! Is time to get rid ah dese fools in the Ministry of Health.”

It’s not easy to decide which set of fools is more wearisome, harder to take—the ones in the Ministry of Health or the ones in the United National Congress.

Khan makes the case for the former.

Photo: Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh (centre) poses with health workers at the Freeport Health Centre.
(via MoH)

Oh yes, we all know the ideological position articulated by Basdeo Panday, who is, whoever may claim to be the leader of that party, whoever may hold the title, the UNC’s spiritual leader, its vital force, its spokesperson par excellence.

“It is not the responsibility of the Opposition to make the Government look good.”

It might be blasphemy to say that, like in Genesis, Bas spoke the UNC into being. But it is deadly accurate to say that he spoke the NAR into government—grudgingly agreeing to let ANR Robinson have his way and become the party’s political leader.

Privately, however, he also vowed to let the DAC leader, who was ‘bringing nothing but want everything’, have ‘40 inches ah cock in he bottom’ once the ultimate prize had been secured.

We all know how that turned out.

A urologist by training, the three-time UNC Barataria/San Juan MP has doubtless given much useful advice about where cocks might be put. And, presumably, about arseholes.

Photo: Dr Fuad Khan on the job.
(via Dr Fuad Khan)

He never quite used the term but he did eventually follow the Prime Minister’s example in this video and invite someone to ‘kiss my arse’.

There have been, it is true, no shortage of these videos in recent times as the 66-year-old erstwhile deputy speaker seeks to make his mark on the electorate even though the next election is, in theory at any rate, still almost four years away.

But who knows? Is four years enough to move up the ranks from deputy speaker to Big Sawatee? If you can pluck enough feathers from KPB’s wings and you can somehow get past the patient Dr Roodal Moonilal, the sky is the limit!

And, of course, take frequent pot shots at the incumbent in the MoH and his seemingly servile subordinates in the public health service and/or his comrades in Cabinet.

Yellow Trinidad loves that!

“My dear supporters in Trinidad and Tobago,” Khan begins. Full disclosure.

Photo: Travellers go through Covid-19 checks in Cyprus.

And he launches into a detailed description of the multiple steps that he, fully vaccinated, needed to complete before he got onto the aircraft that would bring him, after a four-hour flight, to Piarco International Airport.

You have to attach, he explains, the result of your PCR test—negative in his case but positively not cheap!—and a picture of your vaccination card to the travel pass that you have been given and upload all of that to an online site.

Not easy, he notes en passant, if you’re over 40. Fortunately, he had with him an adult daughter, who was returning to Canada while he was making his way back home.

She handled all the upload business; for her, a breeze.

So too, in the Pearson International Airport in First World Canada, was the whole business of negotiating customs and immigration. There, they merely put a ‘Vaccinated’ sticker on her passport and that was that.

“She gone!”

Photo: Frustrated travellers at an unidentified airport.
(Copyright AP)

At Piarco in Third World T&T, however, everything that Khan had done prior to boarding his flight made no difference once he disembarked. He had to join a looooooooooooong line of people—185 people, he specifies, presumably after doing a headcount—waiting to get their temperature taken at a MoH port health desk.

And get their PCR test, their vaccination card and their travel pass, yes, the same ones already uploaded to the online site, the same ones inspected by authorities in Miami prior to his boarding the flight straight to Piarco, inspected.

It took ‘five to ten minutes per person’. Do the math!

Arguably angry, certainly emboldened, Khan identifies—but does not name—those responsible.

“Your system stinks!” he tells the Minister of Health and the Chief medical officer.

“You’re destroying Trinidad,” he hyperbolises, “with your stupid system!”

Photo: Ministry of Health chief medical officer Dr Roshan Parasram prepares to face the media at a virtual press conference on 7 May 2020.
(Copyright Ghansham Mohammed/GhanShyam Photography/Wired868)

There follows the inevitable UNC leitmotiv: “The Chief Medical Officer should resign for putting that stupid system in place.”

Surprisingly in my view, he stops short of calling on the Minister of Health to resign; he does, however, call on him ‘to debunk that system’.

If Khan makes a few dozen more of these videos in the coming months and they land in my mailbox, it will make no difference to the way I vote at the next election.

If someone puts a gun to my head and tells me to vote UNC or else, I’m a dead man.

Despite six years in office, the Dr Keith Rowley-led government remains, in my view, a set of bunglers, preferring the future tense in their major statements and often pretending that the past tense does not exist—except in so far as it pertains to what the UNC did or did not do.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley fields questions from the media at one of the seemingly interminable series of media conferences.

Generally speaking, however, they have managed this Covid crisis well. We would have been in a lot worse place, in my view, had this pandemic caught us with Tim Gopeesingh or even Khan in charge and the UNC medical people responsible for the technical advice.

Nevertheless, I think Khan makes a lot of sense. If what he says is accurate, the system in place should be scrapped. It consumes scarce existing resources and potentially unnecessarily reduces, as Khan points out, additional resources accruing from the arrival of tourists.

Similarly, the sempiternal media conferences, which appear to me to be a PNM equivalent of Khan’s videos.

Why should taxpayers have to foot the bill for PNM advertising? What useful purpose do these daily or bi-diurnal or tri-diurnal conferences really serve except to stroke someone’s ego?

I suggested to a well-placed acquaintance in the MoH that no thought has gone into the reasons why this now largely useless charade—as Noble Phillip will not let us forget—continues.

Photo: Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh protests his innocence.
(Copyright Office of Parliament 2021)

“On the contrary,” (s)he demurred, properly leaving the quiet part unsaid. “A lot of thought has gone into it; that is precisely why it continues.”

I, for one, now stand corrected; my acquaintance is no fool.

More from Wired868
More transmissible, not necessarily more severe; new Covid-19 strain, JN.1, reaches T&T

Trinidad and Tobago recorded its first case of new Covid-19 variant, JN.1, according to Carpha today. At present, global health Read more

Daly Bread: Health pomposities—serve and save, don’t hector

The administration of many ministries of government is in continuous decline, while the politicians have wasted tons of money and Read more

Dear Editor: When did Darryl Smith transform himself into a model father? What was Guardian thinking?

“[…] In less than five years, former Minister of Sport Darryl Smith moved from being fired for interfering in the Read more

Vaneisa: Flooding, drought, earthquakes, war… no wonder we struggle with mental health

A friend messaged me a couple of days ago to say that her doctor had put her on anti-anxiety meds Read more

Noble: Living in La-La Land; watching life through “red and yellow-tinted glasses”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines la-la land as “a euphoric, dreamlike mental state detached from the harsher realities of life”. In Read more

Vaneisa: Foggy days of fatigue and other post-Covid symptoms

I’ve come to believe that what I had thought to be a vicious bout of both acid reflux and one Read more

About Earl Best

Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

Check Also

More transmissible, not necessarily more severe; new Covid-19 strain, JN.1, reaches T&T

Trinidad and Tobago recorded its first case of new Covid-19 variant, JN.1, according to Carpha …

One comment

  1. It doesn’t sound as if the process itself is badly designed, but rather details of implementation need to be tightened up. There are people who have tried to game the system, and there always will be.
    I noticed that the comparison made by Dr. Khan was between exit in Canada and entry into T&T. Is that a valid basis of comparison? I doubt that proof of vaccine is not examined at ports of entry for the countries that require them.
    For the physical checks in Piarco, why have persons taking passengers’ temperature, and not have something automated like the temperature-measuring stands that are in every store in T&T? Use the people freed up from this task to check the documents. More staff will get them through the peak times.
    I have not seen the software system in action, but I have heard detailed complaints, most of which would have been avoided with a good usability testing programme while the system was being designed. It’s not Windows 12, though; it’s a Web interface to a database.
    The interface can be updated. No need for pitchforks and torches.
    There’s an awful lot of mountains being made out of molehills in T&T nowadays. Everything is “the worst, incompetent, must-be-scrapped-immediately variety”.
    All that leads to is waste. Waste of $$, waste of time, waste of energy.
    I really wish that the politicians would take a break and give the technocrats some space to do what THEY know how to do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.