WANTED: Healthy Dialogue

Image of St. Jude Hospital.

The state of the nation’s health remains one of concern to all.

Doctors and nurses, politicians and technocrats – everyone – agrees something has to be done. Where all seem to disagree, however, is on what is to be done.

The age-old physical structures are crumbling at Victoria Hospital, while brand new structures at the Millennium Heights Medical Complex remain largely empty.

Completion of the new St. Jude Hospital remains uncertain two-and-a-half years after it was halted.

The crumbling physical structure at the George Odlum Stadium-cum-hospital has been deemed an occupational health and safety hazard by related government departments.

Health-wise, we’re really in deep doo-doo.

So, what’s happening?

Government last week announced a new US $20 million loan from the World Bank to improve health delivery capacity.

Three new Smart Health facilities were opened in Micoud.

A 5 Million Euro package has been launched, aimed at making health facilities in French Caribbean territories more easily accessible to OECS citizens for a wide range of ailments.

The government is itself exploring avenues at home and abroad to bail itself out of this unhealthy situation.

But the commissioning of the OKEU Hospital still seems a far way off and there’s still much uncertainty about the future of patients and staff at Victoria Hospital or what’s left of St. Jude at the stadium.

And in the midst of it all, the stakeholders are staking each other out in not-too-healthy ways.

It will surprise no one that the Civil Service Association (CSA) will take strong positions in defense of its members across the national health service; or that the Opposition (SLP) will rail against the obvious ailments affecting the nation’s major health services.

Nor can anyone blame doctors and nurses for wanting or wishing to be consulted on matters affecting their future ability to render the best possible health services.

But where will the quarreling take us?

The Government, for its part, must demonstrate a willingness to listen and respond to criticism and/or related advice.

It takes two to quarrel, but one to engage.

Government and Opposition can quarrel – as they still continue to do — over who did what for health and when. But to what end?

Dialogue is what’s most needed at this time. Nothing more, nothing less.

All must talk, all must listen.

The nation’s health is at stake!

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