I wish to publicly commend and support the comments of Independent Senator, Dr Maria Dillon Remy, as reported in the Trinidad Guardian Tuesday, September 8th on news page 8, and in particular, her reference to “the government, the media, the business sector, faith based organisations.” I would now add to her list, medical doctors and other health professionals. All of us have the responsibility to help our people to make the behaviour change Dr Remy refers to, because this behaviour change we are talking about is going to be required for a very long time. We will therefore need to help each other to drill down to do what is necessary. The bickering among ourselves has to stop.
A health system (any health system) is composed of three parts (1) decision and policy makers (2) health institutions and hospitals and (3) the national community. These three parts must work collaboratively and synergistically to bring about successful outcomes. This is particularly true for public health challenges, and, is especially absolutely essential in a pandemic which is the most extreme public health problem any country, including Trinidad and Tobago, can face. The point being made is that if the national community (part 3) does not respond appropriately, the health system will fail, and this failure will have nothing to do with the calibre of the health personnel or of the health institutions in the country. Let us be in no doubt: all three parts of the health system must work hand in glove. We have seen this in China (present status) and more recently, in New Zealand (present approach).
Senator Dillon Remy is correct in her call for greater collaboration and it must be emphasised that information and data coming from the World Health Organization (WHO) reflect the results of evidence-based science and public health interventions that have been tried and tested.
The WHO itself is made up of over 190 countries and thousands of health experts throughout the world, in WHO (Africa), WHO (Europe), WHO (Asia) and WHO (Americas) that we know as the Pan American Health Organisation, PAHO.
These organisations have been and continue to be the leaders all over the world in responding successfully to epidemics and pandemics. Therefore, the public of Trinidad and Tobago must be wary and view with suspicion, any advice and recommendations from other individuals regardless of their titles and the loud voices. They simply do not have the level of competency or the track record of the World Health Organization where epidemics and pandemics are concerned.
Let me end by publicly congratulating the all the local health professionals at the MOH and at all our health institutions. They are our frontline soldiers in this battle against COVID-19 and I urge the national community to be guided by Senator Remy’s clarion call.
Retired Chief Medical Officer