Our Readers' Opinions
September 22, 2006

We must get our priorities straight

EDITOR: What determines the order of our investment priority list? Please allow me some “real estate” to say why I ask this question.

I’ve been paying close attention to the events that are unfolding at home in SVG, which have prompted me to this. In particular, I pay special attention to our health care system but bear with me as I attempt to develop my point of view.

I think it’s safe to say that the average Vincentian does not need to be any more attentive than necessary to notice that there seems to be a deep focus by our government on housing development.{{more}}

Most recently, there was the initiation of a new housing project that will cost us about $12 million to construct 130 houses. This is in addition to the other housing projects that are already in progress or have recently completed, like the “handing overs” that took place at Peter’s Hope.

Editor, how bad of a housing problem do we have in St Vincent? Maybe I should ask the question in a different way: What is the percentage of Vincentians who, at the very minimum, do not or cannot have a roof over their heads? Now, I am not trying to imply that we do not need proper housing, and I would NOT go as far to say that houses can be too much, but what is the order of our priority list?

I don’t need to reiterate the cries of many who have visited our local hospital, or even that of the nurses who must witness it all.

I don’t need to be told time and time again that the X-ray machine or some other machine is broken and that I must come back tomorrow.

I don’t need to cry the tears of those folks who have lost their loved ones at MCM to know that something is wrong with the order of our priority list.

How important are the lives and well being of our citizens and how does this compare to the apparent desperation for new housing and airport?

At the rate we’re going, who is going to be alive or healthy enough to enjoy new housing and a new airport?

Why do we need to spend $12 million on new housing while the state of our main hospital is in the worst possible state? Do we need housing that bad to the point where we must lower the priority of our health system?

You’re probably wondering why I mentioned “investment” earlier. Well, let me ask this: How much are Vincentians spending on outside health care, annually?

How much are we spending on trips to Barbados and Trinidad for healthcare?

I suggest that we re-direct some of the millions to an updated healthcare system, maybe even a new hospital.

Can ONE fully functional facility be too much to ask for? Not only might we save our own lives, but also we will save ourselves a dollar or two that will stay in the country.

We might even be in a position to return the favor to the Bajans and Trinidadians as they might come looking to benefit from our health system, bringing with them some extra revenue in the process.

I realize that we may have a problem with personnel, but I do believe that this is due to the evidential neglect of the system.

I also know that it is much more than a drop in the bucket for a state-of-the-art facility, but if we take all the millions spent on “non urgent” projects, we will get to where we need to be. We must, however, take the initiative, led by those in charge.

Mr Health Minister, I suggest you take those lands in your constituency and the millions to be spent and channel them to a new updated hospital, or at least focus on the “piece” that we already have. Make it whole. It is absolutely necessary. What is the point of everything else if we don’t have a healthy population, or if we don’t attempt to provide the possibility? Take the international airport project for instance. God forbids that a 737 jet falls out of the sky on approach to Argyle International, what percentage of such a disaster can we handle with the facility that we currently have? We were campaigning heavily to host Cricket World Cup but what happens if there were to be a disaster that involves thousands of people at these games? How do we handle this with what we have?

We need to really prioritize the list.

The lives of our people should always be No.1, regardless.

In the meantime, the grace of God is all that we can depend on.