It’s Time To Sanitize Our Healthcare By Firing Molwyn Joseph

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senator johnathan joseph
senator johnathan joseph
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I call upon Prime Minister Gaston Browne to immediately relieve MP Molwyn Joseph of his current portfolio, and to appoint a new Health Minister, who is willing to take the necessary steps to turn around our failing national healthcare system.

Firing Molwyn Joseph will sanitize Antigua and Barbuda’s healthcare, bringing an end to his unprecedented incompetence, suffocating micromanagement and callous disregard of the recommendations made by highly trained technicians within the public service.

It’s time to allow the experts to do their work to get health care back on track. The vast majority of Antiguans and Barbudans agree that the failures of Molwyn Joseph completely disqualify him from his current position:

Mount St. Johns Medical Center (MSJMC)

The 4 operating theatres are in a state of disrepair, with urgent cases requiring surgery being turned away. A makeshift operating theatre was hastily converted from an endoscopy room, without installing the proper HEPA-filtered air conditioning, putting patients at high risk for post- operative infections. Later, work started on converting a room on the maternity ward to a primitive operating theatre.

With MSJMC in its current state, our nation cannot handle a mass casualty situation, putting us all at risk in the event of a natural disaster or other potential mass casualty event.

The hospital remains without air conditioning – the result of inadequate maintenance of the chiller system, greatly inconveniencing staff and
patients alike.

Basic supplies are often unavailable including bandages and sterile gauze, which is critical for the care of diabetic feet.

Medications are often unavailable, including critical chemotherapy drugs required to begin cancer treatment. In some cases, the course of
treatment requires chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy, then surgery, and this timeline has been lengthened from weeks into several months. The closure of the Cancer Center has made this situation dire.

Diagnostic machines are down or outdated. The MRI has been down since COVID, forcing patients to pay exorbitant amounts to get scans done elsewhere. For example: the estimated cost of going to Trinidad with one relative (airline tickets, hotel accommodation, meals, transportation, the MRI scan, etc.) is EC $9500, plus lost time from work.

The new 64 slice CT Scanner is down, forcing the use of the outdated and sluggish 16 slice CT Scanner, once stored at Holberton Hospital. This archaic machine produces lower quality images, which could lead to less accurate diagnoses.

Patients requiring ultrasound investigations are subjected to extremely long wait times. New appointments are in May and June.

The laboratory is constantly short of reagents for routine blood work (like PSA and thyroid function testing), forcing patients to go to private labs and pay substantial sums of money out-of-pocket; these sums can often exceed one-third of a person’s monthly salary.

Where tests are available, results have often taken 4-6 weeks to be delivered to the district clinics. There has been no substantial investment to improve the laboratory services.

Community Clinics

Clare Hall & All Saints clinics are in a state of major disrepair, with no dates for reopening.

Our clinics have been consistently neglected and left short of supplies, compromising the quality of the primary healthcare system on which our most vulnerable citizens and residents rely.

Medical Benefits Scheme

No Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) Board was appointed for more than one year, showing Molwyn Joseph’s contempt for the beneficiaries and our overall healthcare, which is heavily dependent on MBS.

MBS has removed many drugs from the formulary and those on formulary are in constant short supply. Patients are waiting 7-10 days to collect medicines.

To add insult to injury, Molwyn Joseph has been trying to push “Universal Healthcare,” which requires an increase in in medical benefits
contributions, while our healthcare quality is in freefall.

Shockingly, these comprise an incomplete list of the problems plaguing our healthcare system at both the national and community levels, under the failed stewardship of Molwyn Joseph. Who else but a failed Minister of Health would sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Antiguans and Barbudans to be among the first people to use an unproven cancer prevention vaccine?

We must also recognize that all of these health failures are ultimately the responsibility of Gaston Browne. It is the Prime Minister who continually allowed Molwyn Joseph to fail with impunity, while the population suffered.

The Prime Minister ought to recognize that the parlous state of our national healthcare system is not a political issue. He must, therefore, act swiftly to replace Molwyn Joseph in the public interest and ignore any concerns about political optics or his personal pride.

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