What do sugar and a Sikorsky helicopter have in common? Perhaps the Sikorsky deal, currently prominent news, was a sweet one with too much sugar. But there is more to it than that.
We have been consistently told that a significant number of our Covid deaths are the result of ‘co-morbidities’. One of those significant co-morbidities is diabetes.
‘I have sugar’ is the colloquial way in which many persons with diabetes in Trinidad and Tobago describe their condition. The horrible extent of diabetes here came into sharper focus as a result of the pandemic. It became yet another subject for the exchange of political waffle at the expense of refreshed information about public health measures to combat diabetes.
The fact is whether the subject is sugar, a helicopter, ships for the Coast Guard or gas plant trains, the outcome of many deals is partisan warfare while the public get shafted and the Treasury takes a hit.
Our leaders are chronically unable to make coherent management decisions uninfluenced by the political irrationality of killing off or not completing something a political rival started, and wasting funds already spent.
The minister of health, whose foot-in-mouth remarks regularly contribute to memes or collages of inconsistent statements, reportedly commented on the toll of 1,000 Covid deaths. He dropped another abrasive comment:
‘The fact is people all around the world have died from Covid. It is a tragedy, but it is also a reflection of how unhealthy we are as a society with NCDs, diabetes, hypertension, obesity.
‘So some good could come out of this if those who are diabetics take better care of themselves, so they don’t become statistics for other pandemics.’
Reprimanding sick people is typical of this government’s regular victim blaming. If our fate is in our hands, why do we need a government? What is the plan to support persons with diabetes or those who are pre-diabetic?
There is no point asking the opposition for a plan. Dr Tim Gopeesingh, a former UNC government minister, responded to Deyalsingh by providing a thesaurus of synonyms for ‘callous’ to describe the slur on diabetics, leading up to political ole talk of firing the health minister—but offered no explanation of what should or could have been done differently.
There was in fact a solution-oriented project of which Deyalsingh and Gopeesingh ought to be aware and which I describe for the information of my readers.
I refer to the Trinidad and Tobago Health Sciences Initiative, which took place between 2006 and 2014, and was a collaboration between the world renowned Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and several of our agencies, including the University of the West Indies and Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Health.
Readers will immediately note that this project, started by the PNM, spanned two different administrations. There is little room therefore for either the blame game or hogging the successes of the TT/Johns Hopkins Initiative.
The material from which I quote below is drawn from the programme’s website, but I met two of the physicians at different levels of the programme when they were in Trinidad. One was the head of the programme, the then distinguished chair of the Department of Endocrinology at Johns Hopkins.
The other was one of the co-authors of a publication entitled ‘Barriers to Optimal Diabetes Care in Trinidad and Tobago’ (BioMed Central Research 2015). This person also conducted clinics in Tobago as well as Trinidad.
One ‘pride point’ of the programme was the ‘diabetes outreach program that facilitated co-ordinated care and reduced the burden of disease and its complications’. The program included ‘health assessments with instant results—more than 1,000 health assessments conducted with goals to add retinal examinations to better triage patients with vision problems’. Another was ‘a pilot home hypertension management programme’.
Perhaps, the minister of health can tell us whether the pride points of the programme were maintained and what support it currently provides through the personnel who were trained under the Hopkins/TT programme.
Meanwhile, because ‘we livin’ in jail’. Here is a question for the minister of national security and the Fire Services chief:
What (if any) equipment able to slice through burglar proofing and save trapped persons is standard on fire trucks?