I am positive that anyone with just a scintilla of feeling for others could not have avoided empathizing with that poignant missive by Regional Councillor Carl Parker highlighting the tribulations of the people dwelling in the hinterland, which was published in the January 19 edition of the SN under the heading: ‘Should it not be the state’s responsibility to repatriate the body of a patient from Brazil when the state sent them there for treatment?’
As Mr Parker rightly stated this episode is not new, it has happened numerous times before and will continue to happen – though I pray God forbid – until those directly responsible and in command, namely, the government, address and correct the situation. We keep hearing stories like these so often that they become senseless; with repetition they have become the norm, no one listens, and one is even dismissed with a chuckle, as being lost in time. Mr Parker has done quite a fine act by having this matter published, but how far will this go? Those not affected gloss over it and make empty promises which are soon forgotten.
Why are these people living in Parishara, like many others, treated like dirt, as non-people? All this shouting and boasting about improved medical/health conditions in the hinterland, and the many doctors and nurses, yet from all reports the medical/health situation is alarming, and far from what is propagated.
A pregnant woman experiencing premature pain is transported on a motor bike two villages away (whatever the distance) since 8 am, but did not get a vehicle to take her to Lethem until 2pm, delivering her baby at 3pm. Since she was bleeding profusely, health officials decided to take her to Boa Vista in Brazil, but this profusely bleeding patient never left Lethem until midnight! As expected, she died. But Mr Parker made a very alarming statement: “Death is the usual outcome when citizens are taken to Brazil.” Yet for him the crux of the matter is what happens after death, further emphasizing the normalcy in which the loss of life is viewed. So much for the vaunted improved medical and health scenario in our jungle where the fittest of the fit get the edge. Now to the crux of the matter. How on earth could there be an arrangement where a patient is taken by the medical authorities in Brazil – a foreign land − finally succumb and the body is left there for the family to transport back home? This country at times is a real ‘eye-pass’; as was mentioned the cost for transporting back the corpse was $130,000.
Quite a fantastic sum for a very poor woman, who like many other families in the Rupununi don’t even see that kind of money, and to boot is now saddled with taking care of the five children of the deceased – stress indeed to crack one’s nerves. But kudos must be extended to Pastor Linus, a replica of a true Samaritan. With the exception of Mr Parker, where are the representatives of these hinterland citizens who voted for them? The PPP officials as reported came forward with a $5,000 contribution; well I guess we need to be thankful for small mercies. But I tell you, every day we see and hear of events to make you cringe. Lord knows, we everyday people are left at the mercy of cold, cold stony-hearted officials, law-makers and rulers who ostentatiously make grand pronouncements and empty talk just to give an impression. Policies must be clear cut, diligently and impartially executed on the basis of good human principles, not reserved for a privileged few. They should be like what was done to Akeem Charles, the soldier who went AWOL in search of medical attention for a back injury he sustained in training, because the army said there was no money to pay to treat his injury! These are the things that make ordinary people feel as if they don’t belong; they lose pride and the energy to work towards a common cause; it robs them of their resolve to do anything because of feeling insecure. How much then could we claim to be civilized and progressive when the vulnerable are the least cared about, and not the main thread in our social fabric? How could we have sordid policies designed to keep everyday people on their knees and hypocritically make loud noises about the increase in crime and other ills of society? And so I do feel the need to repeat that we are primed by the unwholesome things that go on, not only for the endless protests but for sterner actions.