Deyalsingh: Public health care is no “Carnival hotel”

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh –

HEALTH Minister Terrence Deyalsingh sent a stern warning to Carnival masqueraders not to dump their parents or grandparents, who may be vulnerable to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), in public hospitals while they play mas.

NCDs are illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension.

Deyalsingh issued this warning after he visited the San Fernando General Hospital on Tuesday to bring some Christmas cheer to some new mothers and their babies.

“Please (to) the mas playing public: do not treat our public health care system as a hotel for Carnival.”

Deyalsingh said, “Do not bring your parents and grandparents for us to house them for Carnival while you play mas.”

When his words were met with quizzical looks on the faces of some media personnel, Deyalsingh explained what he meant.

“We want to appeal to those with NCDs over this festive season to continue taking your medication and not to overeat and to over drink.”

Deyalsingh said, “What we noticed is that from about the 3rd or 5th of January, we get an upsurge of people coming to our A&Es (hospital accident and emergency departments) with uncontrolled diabetes, uncontrolled hypertension, and that puts a burden on our public health care system.”

He said many of these people are elderly.

“They behave well for 11 months of the year, 11 and a half and then for that two-week period, they overeat, over drink, over indulge and also stop taking their medication.”

Deyalsingh said, “I want to urge people and families to make sure that your parents and grandparents who are diabetic and hypertensive take their medication.”

In these circumstances, he continued, some younger people do not monitor their elderly relatives’ health properly and put them in public health facilities to be cared for while they play mas.

“It happens, and then you want to know why we don’t have beds (in public hospitals).”

Deyalsingh said, “One of the reasons is that too many elderly (people) and I would use the word ‘dumped’… I want to be very firm on this…are brought into this free public health care system which we love to bash because people want to go and play mas.”

He said that on Ash Wednesday, the children of these people “miraculously” turn up to take their elderly relatives home.

South West Regional Health Authority officials agreed with Deyalsingh.

Deyalsingh appealed to people who have elderly relatives who are vulnerable to NCDs to ensure they take their medication, monitor their health properly and keep them at home if they are well.

He predicted that people would criticise him for his comments.

“I know I will get licks for saying that but I have a public health care system to defend and support.”

Deyalsingh said the ministry’s TT Moves app is one of several tools people can use to stay healthy and prevent NCDs.

“I use it. A lot of people are using it.”

He said the objectives of the app are to encourage people to take 4,000 steps daily, eat more fruits and vegetables and drink more water instead of drinks loaded with sugar.