A missed opportunity!!!

The nation is still reeling from the effects of the chikungunya virus.

Hundreds of workers in both the public and private sectors have been off the job due to illnesses which are seemingly related to the virus.

If the figures are properly tabulated in terms of man hours off the job at the work place, a picture can emerge about the thousands of dollars lost in productivity at a very inconvenient time for a country that badly needs to find its way in this period of Structural Adjustment.

THE NEW TODAY is not prepared to enter into a debate as to whether the top officials in the Ministry of Health and the Environment came up very short in getting the country better prepared to deal with the problem on hand.

The people have already come to their own conclusions based on the comments being made on the various talk show radio programmes throughout Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique.

Grenadians have spoken – and it matters not right now whether the Ministry of Health is so overwhelmed that it is not too sure about the correct statistics in terms of the number of persons and households
affected by the  chikungunya virus and whether the situation has now reached the stage for it to be declared epidemic.

There are, however,  vital lessons for us as a nation to learn and one of the most important is for the Ministry of Health to sit back and reassess whether its messages are reaching the intended target and if not why, and if that is the case then what needs to be further done to make sure that the wider population always get the message.

Did the high-ups in the Ministry leave their air-conditioned offices in the city and venture out into the many small villages around the country and engage the people in such a manner that they would know that the chikungunya virus message was reaching the right target.

As a matter of fact, many persons including doctors are suggesting that there are other viruses in the air causing some of the illnesses in the country and chikungunya might not be the main culprit.

This newspaper is also suggesting that the powers-that-be have a very powerful tool in their hands and have failed to use it to help the country better prepare itself to deal with the very conditions that
are being blamed for the prevalence of so many mosquitos around the place.

Government is spending millions on engaging the young people in the Imani programme to help reduce the unemployment situation in the country.

At the moment, a large number of the Imanis are sitting at home waiting on the authorities to find placements for them in either the public or private sector.

It is our understanding that these young people are still on the payroll and getting their stipends from the public coffers in the Treasury.

During the February 2013 election campaign, Dr. Keith Mitchell was able to use his much-talked about charm to influence the young people to come on board the NNP Ship to help rescue Grenada.

The current situation presented another glorious opportunity for the Grenadian leader to use his charm to get the Imani Brigade up and running and to lead the charge in a massive clean up operation throughout the country to ensure that homes were doing the right thing to ensure that they were not helping to breed new life into the mosquitos that help to fester the chikungunya virus.

It is a missed opportunity.  The Imani Brigade could have been used in a much more positive vein to help spread the message of the impending dangers of the chikungunya virus to the people and to make every effort to keep their environments and surroundings very clean.

An assault on the chikungunya virus through a well-thought out and co-ordinated strategy would not have been missed by past administrations run by those iconic visionary leaders in late Prime Ministers Eric Gairy and Maurice Bishop.

These two past leaders possessed the charisma to get thousands of citizens to come out and make voluntary contributions on a regular basis to keep Grenada clean.

Finally, THE NEW TODAY would like to make reference to reports that Works Minister, Gregory Bowen met with staffers at Gravel & Concrete and informed them of imminent retrenchment to deal with a bad fiscal situation at this state-owned corporation.

It is our view that this is just the start of the retrenchment programme that will have to be undertaken by the 19-month old NNP regime to address the terrible state of things in the country.

Mr. Bowen knew of the situation at this state-owned corporation in the 2003-08 period so too was former Works Minister, Joseph Gilbert of Congress who is now a card-bearing member of NNP.

The NDC was scared away from sending home workers at Gravel & Concrete because of fear of possible reprisals from TAWU and its leader, Chester Humphrey who was part of the problem in the internal party conflict towards the end of the life of the last regime.

Today the harsh reality has to be faced – the IMF will not allow the current leaders to use already scarce public funds to prop up an ailing and badly wounded state enterprise.

The seeds for this impending calamity in Gravel & Concrete were sewn a long time ago – as far back as  the 1995-99 period and it was only a matter of time before the chickens came home to roost.

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