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Between These Lines

September 18
09:41 2018
By: Glenn Tillett

As they say, my thoughts and prayers are with acting Prime Minister Patrick Faber this morning as he heads to chair the weekly Cabinet meeting of the Barrow administration. Last week he informed the nation that: “We are going to make a big announcement shortly about dialysis. Our decision has only been held up because we wanted to make sure that we have an exact number of clients who use the service because the figures that had come to us were conflicting and we are looking very closely at the situation. We intend to have Cabinet on the 18th next Tuesday and that matter should yield some kind of decision finally on the dialysis issue.”

You must excuse my skepticism that today’s Cabinet meeting will likely not result in any such announcement. We’re already 2 weeks past the last deadline for the announcement of a plan to offer assistance to Belizean citizens who need dialysis to continue to live. Many have died from lack of access to the service due to cost over the past 10 years, and just in the past year the minister of health has three times promised, pledged, that he had a plan to alleviate this deadly circumstance. I need point out again that the Government of Belize insists that it spends $2,000,000 per year providing the service or access to the service but still Belizeans suffering from renal failure die every 2 months or so.

In a bitter ironical coincidence, I was reliably informed that yet another sufferer was buried last week up north and no less a luminary than the said same Minister of Health Pablo Marin was one of her pallbearers. I’ve been told that she too had problems accessing the needed service due to cost.

Perhaps because she was a passionate party supporter we may yet get a fairer, more equitable disbursement of the government subvention and ensure that Belizean citizens remain alive and entire families are not being made indigent.

With all due respect, as “they” like to say, it is an incredible assertion that lives continue to be lost because the Government of Belize/Ministry of Health does not know how many people are suffering from renal failure and need dialysis.

It has been more than a decade that this has been an issue as part of the public discourse. For any executive of the administration to feign ignorance is beyond the pale.

In my fantasies, Mr. Faber’s Cabinet would direct that an accounting of the monies spent to subsidize the provision of dialysis the past 8 years be done, in the same manner, they could demand an accounting of NICH finances the past 2 years or so.

They could declare that no Belizean citizen can be denied dialysis by any provider due to cost, and direct the Solicitor General to draft the necessary legislation to enact this into law the way some of our neighbours have done.

And they could insist that the Ministry of Health resume its true role as a regulator and not an administrator by simply turning over the matter of the disbursement of the government subsidy to the Belize Social Security Board. Not only is there no need to reinvent the wheel but whatever happened to “accountability and transparency for good governance”?

How many more Belizeans citizens have to die? How many more coffins will you carry, Pablo Saul Marin?

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