Since becoming the Minister of Health in 2015, Terrence Deyalsingh has been talking a lot. He keeps saying what he will do to improve the health sector. He insists that he would stamp out corruption.
But he has not been able to ensure that much needed drugs are available in the health system and at public hospitals for poor people.
Although the Ministry of Health will gets the third highest allocation in the Budget, Deyalsingh has failed as a Minister. After two years he is still blaming the last Government for the state of the health sector.
Now he goes in Parliament and says he has been eliminating corruption, waste and mismanagement in the procurement of drugs, non-pharmaceuticals and services in the health sector and has saved Government hundreds of millions of dollars.
Deyalsingh has won no friends with this statement as hundreds of people are frustrated almost daily in not acquiring basic drugs. But he rambles on.
He said the reduction of the contract sum by $200 million for the construction for the Arima Hospital and the reduction of the contract sum by $300 million for the Point Fortin Hospital were done by renegotiating UDeCoTT fees.
He added, “On coming into office we looked at the contracts for Arima and Point Fortin hospitals. Without touching one square foot of space, without decreasing capacity by one bed, or by not decreasing one square foot of construction space, this Government was able to reduce the overall cost of both facilities by $500 million.”
Deyalsingh said hospitals could not perform the amount of orthopedic surgeries for patients because RHAs buy orthopedic supplies from third parties.
When he became minister he found that four RHAs, North West, North Central, South West and, to a lesser extent, Eastern, collectively spent $26 million out of their allocations just buying bolts, pins and plates.
He said he went online and a four-inch by five-inch titanium plate cost US$18 from the same manufacturer from which the RHAs secured them through third parties at a cost of TT$5,800 (US$830). This screw online from the same supplier is US$3.50 and it was procured locally at a cost of TT$600 (US$87).
“This is why we can’t perform enough orthopedic surgeries in our public health system. We are being ripped off.”
One word of advice to Deyalsingh. In the United States, all contractors in the health sector can be found online. In Trinidad and Tobago, it is a secret. Time to do better in the procurement of goods and drugs.