The ruling New National Party (NNP) Candidate for St. Andrew South-east, Minister of Implementation, Emmalin Pierre is pointing an accusing finger at the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) of using the existing problems within the healthcare system to score cheap political points.
Addressing a crowd of supporters at the Harvey Vale Playing Field in Carriacou last week Saturday, Minister Pierre said that while the NNP acknowledges there are many challenges in the health care system and is willing to do what it takes to fix them, the NDC is pretending that they never had an opportunity to resolve these issues.
“Our party (in) government has recognised that health is a major challenge for us in Grenada, as it is in many other countries (so) let us not fool ourselves (but) it is important to note that the NNP government has acknowledged that there are challenges in the health care system and is willing to do what it takes to fix them,” she said.
“Brothers and sisters, it is extremely unfortunate that there are persons who had four-and-a-half years to fix the same problems in the health care system but today, they pretend that they were never there. They pretend that we never had problems and today they are prepared to use healthcare as a political football to score some political mileage”, she added.
The female government minister likened Congress to “a bunch of jokers” and said “the NNP is prepared to say, we have problems and we are ready and prepared to address those problems”.
In commenting on Minister Pierre’s broadside on NDC, the party’s Chairman Vincent Roberts in an interview with THE NEW TODAY on Tuesday said “the NNP has failed miserably”.
He said that prior to Congress coming into power for the 2008-13 term in office, “NNP had 13 consecutive years in office, we (NDC) inherited poor health conditions”.
Roberts went on: “They have failed in health, education, and job creation among other areas and we (NDC) must expose them. We will not keep it a secret from the Grenadian people like the sale of our assets and there is absolutely no problem in exposing them”.
Roberts recalled an NNP-organised protest action against poor health conditions, while in opposition under the Tillman Thomas-led Congress government, in which the current Health Minister Nicholas Steele, was photographed holding a placcard calling for better Healthcare.
He charged that “the NNP are so ashamed of their many failures and are trying to pretend that people shouldn’t talk about it politically.”
The Keith Mitchell-led NNP has held onto the reins of government for 18 of the last 21 years and on March 13, will be seeking to retain another five-year term in office.
Among other things, Minister Pierre credited the NNP for the introduction of “electronic medical records, customer service training for doctors and nurses, improved supply of medication, construction of Phase II of the General Hospital (and) we have employed doctors and nurses throughout this island”.
She said, “as a matter of fact, every nurse that was not employed was engaged during these five years in office”.
Lamenting on the recent introduction of X-ray and CT scan services at the Princess Alice Hospital at Mirabeau, St. Andrew, Minister Pierre told the gathering that, “soon it (X-ray and CT scan) will be (introduced) at the Princess Royal Hospital (in Carriacou).
“We have also secured funding for a major upgrade of the Princess Royal Hospital,” she said, adding that “we recognise the challenges but we are working on the challenges.”
According to Minister Pierre, the NNP regime “recognise that there is so much more that we need to do…in addition to addressing some of the challenges that we face now and that is why, your New National Party government, has decided to take the bull by the horn and we are going to do what is necessary to bring National Health Insurance to the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.”
She promised that the NHI would bring to the people of the tri-island state, “improved primary health care services…at the end of Phase 1 of the project, every Grenadian would have a National Health Insurance card, which will give them access to private and public doctors, pharmacies and diagnostic services throughout Grenada.”
Additionally, she said having recognised “the tremendous load on the Ministry of Health, we (NNP) would have assigned a second minister to support the Ministry of Health in introducing NHI to Grenada.”
“So, when you hear otherwise you know it is not true,” she added.
The National Insurance Scheme Board has been appointed as the key implementing agency for the NHI and according to Minister Pierre, “a competent Canadian company has already conducted a trial study, which will inform the way forward.”
The Minister told the gathering that government has “recommended a basket of services from which you will be able to benefit under the NHI (and that) when the costing of this exercise is completed, government will officially announce to you the basket of services that will be available free at the point of service, for every man woman and child (in) Grenada Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
“Brothers and sisters, we hope that in Phase I of this project, that this basket of services would also include diagnostic services that are available on island and we are talking about people who cannot afford an MRI at Spice Isle Imaging, we are hoping that all those would be included in that basket of services, she said