Gopeesingh: MoH’s decision to hire Covid consultant a waste of money and resources

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Gopeesingh: MoH’s decision to hire Covid consultant a waste of money and resources

Former Opposition Minister, Dr Tim Gopeesingh has questioned the Health Ministry’s unnecessary decision to hire a Covid-19 consultant.

A newspaper advertisement on Tuesday invited interested people to submit applications for the position by March 7, 2023.

In a statement, Gopeesingh said the latest move by the Rowley Government to commission yet another assessment into its disastrous response to the Covid-19 pandemic is nothing short of a deliberate waste of money and resources, in the name of dangerous political propaganda.

The ministry said it is seeking this individual consultant “to conduct an assessment of the Ministry’s response to Public Health Emergency Covid-19 and make recommendations to inform the Ministry’s response to future pandemics”.

Gopeesingh said 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.
“This independent team of five qualified and respected medical professionals, led by esteemed UWI’s Professor Terence Seemungal, has since 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 4600 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 T&T’s public health care system under the watch of Prime Minister Rowley, the clueless Minister Deyalsingh and his equally incompetent Covid-19 management team. Most significantly, its findings also easily point to the possibility of serious criminal negligence involved in the management of patients.”

Gopeesingh pointed out that to date, none of the Seemungal Report’s 19 recommendations have been implemented by the Health Ministry, even as Covid-19 infections and deaths continue to plague Trinidad and Tobago.

“For Deyalsingh to now find money from the IADB 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.

According to the media reports, this new assessment will help build public health care resilience and inform responses to future pandemics regarding leadership and governance, access to essential medicine, and health service delivery, inclusive of the parallel health service system.

But, as Gopeesingh notes, all of these areas and relevant recommendations were already addressed in the Seemungal Report. “It is therefore mind boggling that the Health Ministry would therefore choose to deliberately ignore the findings of this qualified, independent team of medical professionals, commissioned by none other than Prime Minister Rowley himself!”

He said the Health Ministry is also refusing to state how much it is paying this one man team, and has also failed to specify the required medical and investigative qualifications, and experience as well as the legal remit of this consultant.

He reiterated a call for a Commission of Inquiry into the Government’s Covid-19 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 this Consultant is being hired via an IADB five-year loan programme, which includes a determination of the state of chronic Non Communicable Diseases in Trinidad and Tobago. Almost four years have passed since that loan was signed, and to date, the Rowley Government has been unable to state what were the findings and recommendations of this IADB report on this critical issue of 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.”

“As the Rowley Government’s track record of commissioning reports and failing to act on them proves, nothing positive or beneficial will come out of this for Trinidad and Tobago.”