Some Doc­tors Need More Than Their Heads Ex­am­ined!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Cephas Wil­lie

For­get about the two or three who be­lieve that op­er­at­ing a doctor's clinic in Saint Lu­cia li­censes them to pre­tend they are what they never were. The ma­jor­ity of Saint Lucians will openly ad­mit the only lo­cal doc­tors who have been speak­ing out for bet­ter health­care in Saint Lu­cia are named King and Bird. The pair have never been fa­mous for en­gag­ing in any bul­ly­ing tac­tics with any gov­ern­ment, but have spo­ken out loud about what gov­ern­ments owe the peo­ple: bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion and af­ford­able health­care chief among them.

Through their var­i­ous en­ti­ties like Rise Saint Lu­cia Inc. they have also sought to em­power Saint Lucians so they might make mean­ing­ful and tan­gi­ble con­tri­bu­tions to our coun­try. Their pro­nounce­ments have not al­ways re­ceived pop­u­lar sup­port but they never re­tal­i­ated in ways that left the pub­lic won­der­ing whether they had changed from be­ing doc­tors to reg­u­lar yard fowl politi­cians. Their track record as ac­tivists is well doc­u­mented.

Dr. Alphon­sus St. Rose, the cur­rent lead­ing hon­cho at the St. Lu­cia Med­i­cal & Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion, is a to­tally dif­fer­ent sack of dasheen. Lis­ten to him and you are likely to be­lieve he is an elec­tion can­di­date look­ing to lead a party in des­per­ate need. Lit­tle about him sug­gests a com­pas­sion­ate in­di­vid­ual with a good doctor's bed­side man­ner. Take for ex­am­ple his re­cent rants af­ter a sched­uled meet­ing with the na­tion's prime min­is­ter had to be post­poned.

I have been able to lay my hands on the cor­re­spon­dence be­tween the SLMDA and the of­fice of the prime min­is­ter and here the facts: on June 6, 2018 (what is it about June 6 and Allen Chas­tanet?) the Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Ben Em­manuel, act­ing on di­rec­tives of his prime min­is­ter, wrote to the SLMDA in re­sponse to a re­quested meet­ing. The let­ter read in part: “I am di­rected by the Hon­ourable Prime Min­is­ter to ac­knowl­edge re­ceipt of your let­ter dated May 23, 2018 out­lin­ing the views of the SLMDA on the sta­tus of health­care in Saint Lu­cia.” The let­ter went on to point out that the prime min­is­ter was out of state and had agreed to “fa­cil­i­tate a meet­ing with your mem­ber­ship on Fri­day June 22, 2018 at 10: 30 am”.

On June 11, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the SLMDA, Deb­o­rah Mar­tial, replied to the prime min­is­ter, on the stated in­struc­tions of SLMDA pres­i­dent Alphon­sus St. Rose. The let­ter stated: “SLMDA is al­ways avail­able and will­ing to en­gage Gov­ern­ment on mu­tu­ally re­spect­ful, re­spon­si­ble and con­struc­tive grounds in seek­ing out the best so­lu­tion to this health­care cri­sis for the greater good of all of our Saint Lu­cian cit­i­zens. To this end we do con­firm our avail­abil­ity to meet with you on June 22.”

n essence Dr. St. Rose was agree­ing to a meet­ing of the SLMDA “mem­ber­ship” and the prime min­is­ter. How disin­gen­u­ous of the SLMDA pres­i­dent to say the PM demon­strated a lack of re­spect when he can­celled the meet­ing upon dis­cov­er­ing only St. Rose and his ex­ec­u­tive would be present. Af­ter all, he had met with the group be­fore, twice, if mem­ory serves. It also is disin­gen­u­ous of the pres­i­dent, as I see it, to say it's not pos­si­ble for the SLMDA's gen­eral mem­ber­ship to meet en masse with the PM, given the de­mand for their ser­vices.

The SLMDA went on to is­sue a long mis­sive clothed as a press re­lease. Dr. St Rose promised the me­dia that he would not take things ly­ing down. The me­dia, by the way, had been sum­moned by a po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist of the Saint Lu­cia Labour Party and Dr. St Rose. If Dr. St. Rose and his crew re­ally want to come across as a gen­uine or­gan­i­sa­tion whose main cause in life is to care for the peo­ple's health, they must guard against com­ing across as am­a­teur politi­cians. And yes, there's a dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing an ac­tivist for a cause, say, like Dr. King, and a reg­u­lar gar­den va­ri­ety politi­cian on the prowl.

There can be no deny­ing our coun­try has long been ne­glected when it comes to health­care, for rea­sons in­clud­ing some be­yond the con­trol of this and pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions. Mean­while, the lead­ing mem­bers of the SLMDA, who have grown rich from min­is­ter­ing or ap­pear­ing to min­is­ter to the sick and dy­ing, might con­sider some other op­tions.

For starters they can pull off those stale SLMDA PSAs now air­ing and re­ally be­gin to cre­atively ed­u­cate the pub­lic on health is­sues. The SLMDA can of­fer free clin­ics, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing pe­ri­ods of cer­tain out­breaks and epi­demics, and can also give sup­port to em­pow­er­ing cit­i­zens with tak­ing on doc­tors for mal­prac­tice. It would also be nice to see a med­i­cal board that holds mis­cre­ant doc­tors ac­count­able for their some­times deadly mis­takes. For some time now there has been a pub­lic out­cry be­cause some op­ti­cians with­hold pa­tients' pre­scrip­tions. There is also charg­ing pa­tients to have their health test re­sults read to them. This, af­ter they pay through their teeth for the tests.

The SLMDA might also do well to in­ves­ti­gate what ap­pears to be a small ring of doc­tors and med­i­cal per­son­nel stron­garm­ing pro­mot­ers, as per the NEMO mas ground guide­lines, into us­ing their ser­vices. These fees, I am told, are some­times much higher than what some doc­tors make in a day.

Please SLMDA, could you con­sider these and look be­yond the politics of the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, which I do ad­mit is also de­serv­ing of im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion? How­ever, the health cri­sis we now face did not start with St. Jude or OKEU and will not end with two or three brand new fa­cil­i­ties. The Saint Lu­cian pub­lic must be­gin to take off their glasses, rose-coloured and yel­lowed, and see things for what they re­ally are. What we are now ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in the name of af­ford­able health care is a far cry from what any gen­uine doctor would or­der!

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