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An unhealthy staff situation

Friday, August 10, 2018

For years now, through the tenures of several successive ministers of health, chronic staff shortages have persisted throughout the public health system.

The extent of that problem has been brought back into the spotlight in recent days and weeks, with Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh announcing plans on Wednesday for a mission to Cuba to recruit specialist doctors to fill vacancies at facilities across the country. Recently, this newspaper reported exclusively about the large number of young medical doctors in this country who are unemployed.

This situation indicates serious gaps and shortcomings in the systems of planning and recruiting medical professionals and the need for a different human resource approach by the Ministry of Health.

While Minister Deyalsingh’s announcement of the recent hiring of 75 interns will, as he put it, “soak up” the supply coming out of UWI, there is a clear need for more long-term planning and strategising. Perhaps a closer working relationship with UWI and placing more emphasis on areas of specialisation most needed in this country, with scholarships and other incentives, could be part of the solution.

Systems also need to be put in place—perhaps with improved terms and conditions of employment—to retain T&T’s best and brightest.

Failure to innovate

Not to belabour the point, but it is hard to fathom how this country, which is seeking economic resilience through diversification, is slipping rather than advancing on the Global Innovation Index Rankings (GII). In the just-released 2018 GII, T&T has dropped five places and now ranks at 96 out of 126 countries.

In the quest for sustainable development, this country needs to be seeking new products, methods and ideas to make the best use of all available resources—human and material. Innovation is important for growth to help this nation to stand out and become more competitive.

This should not be a stretch for a nation—as tiny as it is—that has in past centuries gifted the world with calypso, limbo and the steelpan.

Inadequacies cited in the latest GII report include poor data collection, a problem that should be addressed when the shift is made from the Central Statistical Office to the National Statistical Institute

Promoting positive parenting

Kudos to the Mediation Services Division of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts for its Parental Group Workshop series—a much-needed initiative aimed at building strong, healthy families. Parents and guardians need to take advantage of these opportunities, which are sure to yield positive benefits for them and the children in their care.


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