By anguillian February 13, 2018 09:50



One of the first things assessed and tackled in Anguilla, following the devastation by Hurricane Irma, was the state of the island’s health facilities and services. It was with much relief and expectation when not only our healthcare professionals, but ordinary and hurricane-stunned people in the community, saw British helicopters operating surveillance flights over the badly-damaged hospital – and marines quickly repairing the ripped-off galvanize roofing. They, the marines, were among the first responders to a wrecked health facility, under water, with stressed out patients in their beds exposed to the open rainy sky in some instances. It was a sad situation, and the worst scenario in memory, with stories emerging about the gallant efforts of doctors and nurses dragging around beds to shelter their patients as securely as possible, and pushing out the flood water until help arrived. To them, and the marines, we owe a debt of gratitude.

Since then, there has been a remarkable recovery at the Princess Alexandra Hospital. The Government has wasted no time in concreting the roofs of some of the main patient wards as well as providing new areas of accommodation and healthcare for adults and children. Luckily, the shipping of the costly CT-Scan machine and ancillary equipment was fortuitously delayed, thus escaping possible irreparable damage. One needs to visit the hospital to see the general improvements going on there. To add to the developments, ground has just been broken for an extension to the Maternity Ward. Our sincere gratitude must be extended to Mrs. Blondel Cluff, Anguilla’s UK/EU Representative in London, who raised the money and has taken the opportunity to praise the people of the island for their resilience and recovery efforts in the face of a traumatic experience.

The hospital is not the only health facility that was severely damaged by the hurricane. The Valley Clinic and the Dental Unit are in a serious state of disrepair and consequently are out of use, placing much burden on the services and personnel at the Welches Poly-clinic in particular. Fortunately for us, again, the UK Government has, in the words of Chief Minister Banks, “given us unprecedented financial assistance” to the tune of some 200 million dollars to rebuild our infrastructure. That will of necessity include our health facilities. We must add the UK Government to our long thank-you list. In the same breath, we ought to thank our “begging” Minister of Health, the Honourable Evans McNiel Rogers, for his sworn commitment and resolve “to ensure that there is a marked improvement in health services in Anguilla”. The Minister, a health professional in his own right and training, is also feverishly working on a state-of-the -art health facility for the island which has become his pet “begging” project.

Minister Rogers is on the right track when he speaks about the need for “a state-of-the art facility”. He has had, and continues to have, discussions with, and even visits from, officials of Health City Cayman Islands, regarding a similar project for Anguilla. To that end, he is “begging” for money from philanthropic sources, near and far, and is said to be making good progress as he did with the CT-Scan Machine. He sees no shame in “begging” in the interest of the people of Anguilla.

Two important considerations to take into account when thinking on the development of health facilities and services in Anguilla: One is that the people of the island are not immune from the ravages of various types of chronic and non-chronic diseases as well as terminal diseases that threaten mankind everywhere. Some of the main types of illnesses are being recorded on the island and these demand close monitoring and treatment to the highest degree with secondary or tertiary assistance abroad. The second consideration is that Anguilla is not only a small island developing state, but is a growing upscale tourist destination. That puts Anguilla at an increasing level where the quality of its health facilities and services must be on par with its tourism services. Not only the most discerning and discriminating tourists will first inquire into the health facilities and services available in tiny Anguilla, before travelling to the island, but even the most carefree and less-demanding visitors as well. In both cases, for our own people, and those who visit us, we need to ensure that we have the requisite and modern health facilities and services in place and available when required.

Anguilla has had a pathetic history of having been a poverty-stricken island with proper health facilities and services at the lowest standard anywhere. Thankfully, we are making strides in escaping that woeful state of affairs, and today our private and public health sectors are developing to meet our present and future challenges. We must look around us and see where some of our new ventures and priorities must take centre stage to substantially bring about greater improvement. The long-planned national health insurance scheme, which the Government has on the table, is one of the considerations we must implement with all haste. Our compelling task is to keep in mind the proverb that A Heathy Nation is a Wealthy Nation.

By anguillian February 13, 2018 09:50


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