By Kadeem Joseph
The Minister of Health is pledging the support of the government towards ensuring that much needed upgrades in services provided by the Hanna Thomas Hospital are provided.
The assurance came after the resident doctor on the sister isle, Dr Jeremy Deazle, last Thursday highlighted several inadequacies at the facility that needed to be addressed to better provide healthcare on the island.
Of the concerns that Dr Deazle shared was the need for equipment to outfit a space for a laboratory on Barbuda.
He is hoping that providing tests such as complete blood count, INR (which measures the time for the blood to clot), a basic metabolic panel blood test, urinalysis and X-ray imaging would be a “basic start” towards making the health facility more functional.
Speaking on Pointe FM on the weekend accompanied by the minister Sir Molwyn Joseph, Dr Deazle explained that a Barbudan requiring these “simple” tests and travelling by air would have to pay $350 for a return trip to the mainland, without the assurance of getting the results in the same day.
“If you want a simple blood test done the person would have to travel to Antigua and spend way more than they should have for a simple test,” he added.
The doctor explained that “kids are very active,” and participate in a lot of horseback and donkey riding; many would have to be sent to Antigua to get an X-ray done in the event of an accident.
He said ultimately, both central government and the Barbuda Council bear the responsibility for the development of the medical facility.
Last Thursday, Member of Parliament for Barbuda Trevor Walker said that getting the appropriate equipment that the hospital needs to function effectively had been challenging, but “there is light at the end of the tunnel because we have been speaking with some donors out of the United States”.
Sir Molwyn stated, however, that the central government should be leading the charge of building the sister isle’s healthcare system, instead of the council.
“They can manage, they can help supervise, but to establish a modern healthcare facility in Barbuda that fits what Dr Deazle is talking about has to be done by the central government and that has to be recognised by the council,” he added.
The minister went a step further, asking Dr Deazle to submit a recommendation to the ministry for all the equipment needed even if it requires assistance from mainland officials to identify shortfalls.
“I know there is a protocol, I know you work closely with the office of the chief medical officer, but if at any time you think the issue is so crucial, call the minister and I will ensure that it is done,” Sir Molwyn committed.
“In terms of your lab, you can just dispatch your requirements to the chief medical officer as soon as possible and we will ensure that you get your lab equipment and whatever reagents you may need in Barbuda,” the minister added.