Dr Pascal: it is a serious threat
Dr. Irvin "Eipigh" Pascal, one of Dominica's leading medical doctors says he fears for his life following statements that Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit made about him in Parliament during the recent budget debate.
Dr. Pascal, Dominica's only Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist, was critical of Dominica's health system in a newspaper article published by the Sun.
In response to the critique, Skerrit said in Parliament: "I find it strange, Madam Speaker, that a doctor who works here, I see him criticizing the hospital management…. you are the one paid by the taxpayers to give better health care, so if you are criticizing the Ministry of Health or the hospital, you must hold yourself responsible. Eipigh… these are guys, Madam Speaker, the taxpayer paying them and they out in Anguilla and Montserrat working while we paying them. That is the problem, Madam Speaker."
Skerrit added: "Madam Speaker, anyone who supports the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) is a dishonest person and a bunch of modern day pirates who have no interest in Dominica."
He continued: "So if is talk they want to talk Madam Speaker, let us talk...and they come there speaking with a stethoscope and so on, Dr. Eipigh and so on. Eipigh doesn't want me to talk about Eipigh, you know because at the time Madam Speaker, just now Madam Speaker, we will have time, we will have time, Madam Speaker, because these guys have no interest in people, they have no interest in Dominica, just themselves. It is not fair to the people of Dominica, Madam Speaker."
Skerrit's statement was supported by Health Minister, Julius Timothy, who he did not mention Dr. Pascal's name but pointed to those "who criticize in the papers."
"Madam Speaker, there are those who stay outside, and are so full of themselves, Madam Speaker, who criticize in the papers. We will go on without them. Maybe they do not have anything to offer anyway based on what they are producing in the papers," Timothy said.
Speaking to the SUN in an exclusive interview, Dr. Pascal, popularly known as Dr Eipigh, said: "I have never spoken to the Prime Minister; I was shocked to hear him speak about me in Parliament and even referring to me as "Eipigh and Dr. Eipigh" all the time. I was shocked and bewildered and as it begun to sink in I realize that this was a threat. I take it now as a threat, a serious threat at my wellbeing…physical, emotional, economical etc.," he said.
He added: "For me, the Prime Minister and Government are powerful institutions in society, and when the most powerful person in a society directs such venom and aggression in his speech at you for something you cannot identify, and can't imagine what it could be, it creates confusion and apprehension in one's mind. I am now thinking about the implications for me."
Dr. Pascal said that some time ago, he wrote an article "critiquing" the Ministry of Health and the Prime Minister and Minister of Health are all aware of the article. He knows the contents of the article were reported to the Minister of Health. He said he has worked as Medical Director for four years under trying circumstances, for peanuts, in terms of pay.
"My way forward is that I will hopefully be allowed to live the life that I have been living in Dominica all this time and commenting on socio-political issues that I think are important and to bring an Afrocentric perspective to our existence and to continue doing my work as an ENT Specialist because it is the people of Dominica who educated me, because of them I am back here," he said.
Meantime, Specialist Medical Officers at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) have stood with Dr. Pascal on the matter.
"The perception conveyed that they leave island while they neglect their duties at the Princess Margaret Hospital is erroneous," the doctors said in a statement.