Paul Baron
Paul Baron

The current pandemic imposed major challenges for health care systems throughout the world. It was a tumultuous challenge for Small Island Developing States.

The ability for Small Island Developing States to withstand the pressure placed on their Health Care Systems was dependent on how prepared they were or how resilient they would become.

Let's face it the pandemic caught us off guard and all the warning signs were ignored very much how signs of an impending storm are treated, loosely. Its unpredictability and rapid evolution brought the world economy to a jolting stop.

Dominica being no exception, just as it is evident in other Small Island Developing States, the health care system and healthcare professionals were put to the test. There's another perspective, however.

Dominica's health care system was under siege for a long time, much longer than it is being perceived. Initial estimates suggest anywhere from 2004. Dominica once boasted of a very proactive and robust health care system that formed the blueprint for other Caribbean islands. Our nurses were envied throughout the world and their training and dedication to health care meant that through their actions lives were saved daily.

The old adage "you never lose the water before until the well runs dry" began to seeth through our hospital walls and health care facilities as more and more nurses began to realize that not only were they being underpaid but there was no room for upward mobility in the system and chances for long term employment continues to be a distant dream, with so little being appointed.

To add to the already breaking eggshell, the working conditions were hazardous and there was not enough medication to solve illnesses.

The anticipated action was no surprise. Nurses and doctors began to act with a slight degree of unprofessionalism and many left Dominica enough to send the health care system in a spiral race to the bottom.

Economic prosperity is closely linked to health care and we are reminded daily that health is wealth. But with more and more underappreciated and underpaid doctors and nurses, the less care was received resulting in an increase in admission rates, infant mortality, and overburdened satellites health centers

The Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica under the leadership of one who claims "has a deep interest in health, and considers himself an expert in the field" went on a spending spree to build more facilities.

The increase of health care facilities in an already challenged economy meant additional recurring expenditures, increased staff, declining levels of medical stock from the CMU, and fewer ambulances & health care professionals to serve remote communities.

Ultimately resulting in a full-blown ultra-crisis when COVID-19 struck. Not only did COVID-19 strain these resources further, more and more people being sick meant that the Health Care System could not sustain that many medical emergencies and may never be able to do so if not addressed.

In response, the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica met traditional and nontraditional friends to meet its vaccine quota. Vaccines were greeted with the same skepticism as the rest of the world and the vaccine that was received is nearing its expiry and for most doses, already expired.

The horrors of the COVID centres are no different from a pregnant woman receiving a mildly pasted tuna sandwich (bun) and maternity outfits fitted with holes. The Ministry of Health believes that a new hospital and management will help. But it is a well-known fact that a house built on sand will soon fall.

Dominicans will soon find out that health care will become as expensive as gas when management squeezes the remaining cents from Dominicans' purses when seeking health care.

MRI machines are very expensive to maintain and so is a state-of-the-art hospital. This means we will have to pay a hefty price. Health care professionals claim that if we are unable to maintain our X-ray machines or get professionals to work them, how are we to maintain the equipment now currently being used as a media prop.

One thing remains: "the haves" will prosper and the "have nots" will suffer.

Much is to be desired in the Dominican Health Care System the administration now looks to Pakistan to patch a seething sore.

Paul Baron

Politician & Youth Activist