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San Fernando Teaching Hospital Commissioned
Friday, December 28, 2012

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (centre front),
surrounded by her cabinet colleagues including Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan (2nd from left)

Friday December 28th 2012 @ 11:30AM

  • The Honourable, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar;
  • Dr. The Honourable Roodal Moonilal MP, Minister of Housing, Land and Marine Affairs;
  • The Honourable Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, Minister of Public Administration and Member of Parliament for San Fernando West;
  • His Worship, Dr. Navi Muradali, Mayor of San Fernando and Aldermen of the San Fernando City Corporation;
  • Dr. Lackram Bodoe, Chairman of the South-West Regional Health Authority, Board members, management and staff of the Authority;
  • Ms. Jearlean John, Chairman of UDeCOTT, and Members of the Board, Management and Staff at UDeCOTT;
  • Professor Clement Sankat, Pro Vice Chancellor and Campus Principal
  • Professor Samuel Ramsewak, Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences
  • Ministry of Health management and staff
  • Distinguished guests, members of the media

"Good day.

The forward progression of healthcare can only be achieved by nurturing a culture of higher levels of health training and developing the physical environment associated with proper equipment and customer care. For these parameters to interlock there must be synergy between those responsible for developing the physical infrastructure and those providing the education and services. The Ministry of Housing and the Honourable Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal has been given the task of developing the physical infrastructure in accordance with international best practice. He has done an excellent job by outfitting this building with the most modern of materials and their attending equipment counterparts. In order to continue on this trend of excellence, we are privy to be standing here at this time for the beginning of the commissioning of the San Fernando Teaching Hospital. What a name! I have to commend whoever came up with that title! It is my hope, and I am working with my Ministry to achieve this, that all hospitals will become teaching hospitals.

Your government led by the very able and highly competent Prime Minster, the Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar, recognizes that the access to essential health care is a basic human right. The Government’s vision of basic healthcare for all is keeping with this theme and commissioning. Here we are opening the doors that will cater to the maternal and child health, among other services. The Government’s vision is of a society where women and children enjoy the highest attainable levels of health and that no family should suffer the loss of a mother or child due to preventable or treatable causes. It is the view of the Minister of Health that every morbidity and mortality case will be fully investigated by our internal audit system by professionals and institutions. The Ministry of Health, and the deployment of the various professional bodies under its purview, will be utilized to develop a process whereby the safety of our mothers, children and general population will be of paramount importance. 

Trinidad and Tobago is fully committed to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Out of these MDGs for the 21st century, 3 out of the 8 MDGs are related to the health sector. Of these, MDG 4 – Reducing child mortality and MDG 5 – Improving maternal health will be assisted by the commissioning of these floors of the San Fernando Teaching Hospital.

Health Minister (3rd from left) makes a point to Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar while their cabinet colleagues listen

Ladies and gentlemen, we do have a serious epidemic of chronic non-communicable diseases or CNCDs such as including diabetes, heart disease and strokes in Trinidad and Tobago. The root cause of this is unhealthy lifestyles and poor dietary habits. Imagine 95% of our young adults and children do not eat the required 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Most of the population do not have any physical activity and our diet and taste is mired in sugar, sugar, salt, salt, oil, oil, MSG, exotoxins and addictive ingredients.

In addition,

  • More than ½ the population (55.5%) 15 years and over are overweight or obese;
  • A quarter (25%) of school-aged children (5 – 18yrs) are overweight or obese;
  • The diabetes prevalence rate among adults is approximately 20%, that is, 1 in 5 adults has diabetes.

So there is a necessity for further education and activity to develop proper lifestyles and eating habits among our population. Recently Cabinet passed a note that will allow us to develop our tele-medicine system. The Honourable Minister of Tertiary Education recently commissioned the Medical Students Quarters at the San Fernando General Hospital complete with tele-teaching and tele-medicine facilities.

In view of the fact that it is not profitable to have doctors deployed to rural areas, the time has now come for the introduction of “the Nurse Practitioner” who will limited approval for prescribing and who will act independently in areas that need service to our citizens. The utilization of this Nurse Practitioner will alleviate the long wait for medical care at our institutions. This Teaching Hospital will be utilized to teach these auxiliary professions.

L-R SWRHA Chairman Dr Lackram Bodoe, Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan,
MP San Fernando West Carolyn Seepersad Bachan, San Fdo Mayor Dr Navi Muradali

Let me further add, the Ministries of Health and Tertiary Education, through the COSTATT body, are developing a memorandum of agreement whereby all trainees in all auxiliary health care professions of nurses, radiographers, ultrasonographers, laboratory technicians, phlebotomists etc, will be placed in our institutions and paid a stipend as they advance in their career path. In other words, mentorship will be done from Year 1 onwards and the deployment of practical training will be done in our much needed areas. This practical training will be done as an adjunct to their classroom training. For that I am grateful to the Minister of Tertiary Education for his input and acceptance.

Ladies and gentlemen I could go on and on about the development of teams in the health sector that are both innovative, unique and have a flavour of advancement in today’s world. But I must thank my Prime Minister for her unflinching support of novel ideas presented and accepted. For this I publicly thank her and hope that I can live up to the high standard that is required.

Ladies and gentlemen I thank you."

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