THE commissioning of a new dialysis unit at the partially-opened Owen King-EU Hospital this week will understandably bring some level of comfort to those who were made to suffer through the harrowing ordeal of not being accommodated for such a service at Victoria Hospital. But the fulfillment of this promise must also inspire the relevant authorities to build on the momentum towards ensuring that the beleaguered hospital is fully opened.
For years now, many Saint Lucians have had to either leave these shores in search of dialysis treatment due to the inadequate amount of machines available to accommodate them. While those who were fortunate to be on the list that offered them treatment here – often at subsidized costs — others were forced to suffer, eventually dying to get on the waiting list.
It is disheartening to stomach the fact that with diabetes being one of the most prevalent diseases among the populace that successive administrations did not see the need to capitalize enough units to offer treatment in the same spirit that the officials educate people about the methods of prevention. Life happens and people get sick. But when they do, they deserve the right of access to a healthcare system that offers them hope – not one that sees them having a slim chance of survival.
Understandably, too, many will now come out of the woodwork to claim credit for this week’s “miracle”. However, the best way to deliver on a promise is to actually deliver it. As such, a great deal of thanks must be extended to the Ministry of Health for at least rallying the nurses who had to undergo training to become adept at operating the new equipment. With the knowledge they recently acquired they are now equipped to literally save the lives of patients who once felt hopeless.
With all the development plans being announced, a nation must not find its healthcare system in shambles. Even worse, improvement in that sector must not take second place to anything else. After all, if health truly is wealth, then every investment in that sector must be made. Saint Lucia’s health care system must not continue to be so reliant on patients having to travel overseas for even the most basic services.
With health care reform being one of the government’s main talking points, one expects that any plans to ameliorate the malaise the nation’s health sector is still suffering from becomes a thing of the past. Saint Lucians deserve a health care system that is tolerable – not incurable.