BYisrael: Tobago’s health sector has not implemented preventative covid19 measures

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

PDP deputy political leader Dr Faith BYisrael. –

Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) deputy political leader Dr Faith BYisrael believes Tobago’s health sector has not implemented proper preventative mechanisms for covid19 given the island’s challenges with non-communicable diseases.

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, comorbidities have been linked to the majority of covid19-related deaths in Tobago. As of Friday, the THA Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development reported there were 103 covid19-related deaths on the island and 312 active cases.

At a virtual panel discussion titled Navigating the Pandemic, BYisrael said more time should have been spent on not only ensuring that preventative systems were in place for covid19, but to identify, quickly, people who had contracted the virus so that they could have been treated as early as possible.

“I think this is where we have failed miserably on the island.

“We don’t do preventative stuff generally, and with covid (19), knowing that we have such high rates of non-communicable diseases, we certainly did not put things in place to ensure that we did not have the high rates of deaths that we are experiencing linked to covid19.”

BYisrael, a public health practitioner, also questioned the daily covid19 reports from the THA Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development.

“I think there are significant questions about whether what we are reporting is death from covid (19) or death with covid (19). That is a serious issue that we also need to take into consideration at this point.”

BYisrael also responded to a question about whether individuals should take responsibility for their own well-being.

“If we were to blame individuals for everything then there is really no point in having a primary health care system. A big chunk of primary health care is to help prevent us from getting too sick.”

She also referred to a preventative mechanism known as primordial prevention.

“This is when we have organisations like the Government putting mechanisms in place to help protect our citizens even before they have come into contact with the thing that is going to make them sick.”

BYisrael gave an example.

“If we have a policy that says we are not going to allow smoking inside of buildings, that is an example of primordial prevention because you are not just saying to the person not to smoke or to the person sitting there, move from the person who is smoking. You’ve removed that entire environment.”

BYisrael said such a system can also be applied in schools where students could be given fruits instead of snacks during break periods.

“That is a primordial method of helping people make some of these decisions.”

She added one of the responsibilities of Government is to help people make wise choices about the foods they eat.

BYisrael believes preventative medical care has not been a feature of the health care system in Tobago“We have been very reactive for everything which means that we wait until the person gets very sick and that is because of the way the system is set up.

“If you have to wait for a year for a diagnostic tool to become available, within that year you could have gone from being okay to not being well to being detrimentally ill just waiting for the diagnostic tool to be available to determine whether you are sick or not.

“I don’t know that we have done a whole lot at really preventing illnesses, generally, in Tobago and I don’t know that we have done a whole lot at even preventing covid19 in Tobago.”

The panel discussion, which also featured contributions by Innovative Democratic Alliance political leader Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus and Unity of the People leader Nickocy Phillips, was hosted by the non-partisan organisation Tobago CivilNET