Come sit with me Dawes - Dalley
Health Minister Horace Dalley has invited immediate past president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA), Dr Alfred Dawes, to sit with him after the outspoken medical practitioner called on Jamaicans to rescue the "soul of the country".
"I am hoping that [after] all the concerns expressed by Dr Alfred Dawes at the function yesterday (Tuesday), he will accept my invitation to come sit with me and outline all the issues. I am hoping that he will feel free to bring to my attention all the concerns and a proposal to remedy those issues as of early next week," he declared.
Dawes told a gathering at the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica's (PSOJ) President's Forum on Tuesday that politics and a fear of being victimised were major factors contributing to the deterioration of the sector.
"It was politics why the previous administration removed the user fees without guaranteed sustainable financing for the health sector. It was politics why the present administration, in spite of objecting to the move while they were in Opposition, did nothing to correct the problem of the lack of sustainable financing. It is politics why the Ministry of Health has too many people whose primary objective it is to make their party look good rather than attend to the business of the people," Dawes said.
GOAL TOIMPROVE SECTOR
Dalley, however, told The Gleaner yesterday that his primary aim was to improve the sector at all cost, and as such, he has invited all the relevant stakeholders to speak up.
"I met with the two sets of doctors' groups last week - both the MAJ (Medical Association of Jamaica) and the JMDA - and with that in mind, I say extend this invitation to everybody. Any single practitioner or stakeholder in the health sector who has concerns, information, issues they want to bring to my attention, call my office personally. I will find the time to meet with them because the aim is to fix the issues," Dalley said.
He also noted that he was still in the process of investigating the reasons that led to the death of 19 babies and suggested that more changes would be coming.
Nineteen babies died over a five-month period at two of the island's leading health facilities from bacterial infections.
"I am looking at all the boards. I am also looking at the regional managers. I am looking at the hospital management as well as officials at the ministry, and I can guarantee you that more changes will be made. I am serious," he charged.
"I am not a man, however, who will rush to judgement. I have to look at the evidence and analyse who dropped the ball."
He continued: "You must have your stakeholders on board with you, and everywhere I have been in the last two weeks, I have been appealing to the practitioners and the people in the system to talk up and report to managers, and I am saying to the managers, 'Don't just sit in your offices. Find out what's happening and act.' It must be fixed."
Dawes, who resigned earlier this year as president of the JMDA, also lamented that too many good persons who have the interest of the country at heart were afraid to speak out for fear of being victimised, saying that, in fact, those fears were not unfounded.
He said it was not one authoritarian government that was driving fear into the hearts of persons who would not speak, but it was a "fascist orchestra with rotating conductors that has silenced critics for fear of reprisals".
The former JMDA president also said that "with this inculcated fear of repercussions, there is no surprise that only a few have spoken up about the progressively worsening state of affairs".
He charged: "So who are these feudal lords who tighten the screws on whistle-blowers and whitewash reports going to the top? And why are they more concerned with keeping up appearances rather than addressing the ills in the sector? It is all about politics!"