Dr Tim Gopeesingh –
UNC chief operating officer Dr Tim Gopeesingh on Wednesday predicted a post-Carnival explosion of covid infections, while damning the Government for engaging in alleged political propaganda by advertising to hire a consultant to assess its covid19 response but allegedly ignoring the Seemungal Report on this very subject.
The Ministry of Health advertised for a consultant in paid press ads on Tuesday, with a ministry statement later saying,”The result of this assessment will assist in developing the health sector’s resilience, inform responses to future pandemics and contribute to operational readiness as it relates to future disasters and emergencies.”
Gopeesingh was unimpressed, in a reaction sent by text to Newsday on Wednesday.
He said, “The latest move by the Rowley Government to commission yet another assessment into its disastrous response to the covid19 pandemic is nothing short of a deliberate waste of money and resources, in the name of dangerous political propaganda.
“This is highly disturbing and suspicious, as well as unnecessary and repetitive, since the Rowley administration had already commissioned the Seemungal report for this exact purpose over a year ago.”He said this independent team of five qualified and respected medical professionals, led by esteemed UWI’s Prof Terence Seemungal, produced a detailed, comprehensive report.
“In it, they made some damning findings regarding the Government’s blatant mismanagement of the entire covid pandemic since its onset in 2020, which has thus far resulted in the deaths of over 4,600 citizens, and counting. Nineteen major recommendations for implementation were made by this committee
“Indeed, the Seemungal Report was a damning indictment of the ongoing, dangerous failure of TT’s public health care system under the watch of Prime Minister Rowley, the clueless Minister Deyalsingh and his equally incompetent covid19 management team. Most significantly, its findings also easily point to the possibility of serious criminal negligence involved in the management of patients.”
Gopeesingh complained covid19 infections and deaths continue to plague TT, while the Government had not implemented the Seemungal Report’s recommendations.”For Deyalsingh to now find money from the IDB to hire a sole consultant to do the same job as the Seemungal team, is therefore deeply concerning, and reeks of sinister political motives.”
He said the Seemungal Report already addressed the role of the consultant’s assessment to help build public health care resilience and inform responses to future pandemics. It was mind-boggling that the ministry would deliberately ignore findings of the Seemungal team commissioned by the Prime Minister.
Gopeesingh lamented the ministry had not said how much it would pay the consultant, a one-man team.
“It is important to note that the Seemungal team had lamented about the Ministry of Health’s refusal to give them all the required information and access during its three month-long probe. There were notably subjected to withholding of information, where they had requested over 300 documents of patients’ records, and only 30 were provided.” Gopeesingh asked what guarantee there was that a consultant would not meet similar obstacles and resistance by the Health Ministry.
“It is precisely for this reason that Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and I have been calling for a commission of inquiry into the Government’s covid19 pandemic response, which would at least have qualified investigative officials at its helm, and a firm legal remit to conduct such a crucial national probe.”
Gopeesingh said the consultant would be hired via an IDB five-year loan programme, which includes a determination of the state of chronic non communicable diseases (NCDs) in TT, but four years after that loan was signed, the Government has been unable to state the IDB report’s findings and recommendations on NCDs.
“What is worse is that after seven years, the Rowley Government has done nothing to implement policies or programmes that would effectively deal with the NCDs. In fact, it destructively abandoned the former People’s Partnership Government’s (2010-2015) effective policies to this end.
“These met international standards, and focused on the prevention, early detection and management of NCDs in mainly the primary health care systems, via a system of extended operating hours in all health centres and district health facilities.”
He accused the Government of “wasteful, useless and questionable propaganda and pappy showing” in seeking a consultant.
“What is simply frightening, though, is that as we move into this busy Carnival period, the covid19 infections and death rates continue to rise, pointing to a frightening post Carnival explosion. This, even as the public health sector remains in the same disarray and disastrous negligence than has cost thousands of our citizens, their lives, with no hope of improvement under the failed Rowley Government.”