A defiant NDP Chairman Daniel Cummings has released documentary evidence in support of his thesis that the current outbreak in dengue fever cases was preventable.
For several weeks, the issue of dengue has taken national prominence even in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic as there has been a surge in hospital admission and six (6) related deaths.
Cummings bemoaned the cuts in the budget at the Environmental Health Services within the Ministry of Health.
He said while speaking on the New Times program on Nice Radio:
“I have gone back to the budget debates and on at least two occasions, I pointed the government to the reduction made in the allocation for vector control in the Environmental Health Services.”
“Even when they put it in the budget, they don’t spend it. But they actually reduced the budgetary allocation twice.”
Mr Cummings added:
“In the year 2016 in the Estimates on page 401, the Environmental Health component, in the year before in 2015, the revised Estimate was $5.145 million dollars, the approved estimate was 4.96 [million dollars]”.
“We look at the revised estimate based on their adjustment, 5.145 [million dollars] in 2016, the actual estimate is 4.888 [million dollars]…this is 2016, again and all this time the mosquito index continue to grow, the health department is not able to do what it would but the government continues to reduce the allocation.”
We obtained a copy of the documents that Mr Cummings referred to in his radio presentation. The documents indicate the following:
We found that in the case of 2015-16, there was a variance of $182, 875 between the revised estimate and the final approved estimate by parliament.
In relation to his claim of a cut in budget in 2013, we found a variance of $49,099 between the revised estimate and the approved estimate.
However, the NDP spokesperson went on further to chide the government that they have tried to deny the fact that they cut the budget at least twice.
“They were trying to keep it hush hush. We know a significant number of our homes are breeding grounds for mosquito.”
He also claimed while the government is promoting the benefits of the papaya leaf to help manage the symptoms of the virus, “they don’t have the medication to reduce the fever, they don’t have anything.”
“What is worse is that the staff in the Ministry of Health were not prepared to deal with dengue and there appears to be several instances of misdiagnosis by technical people which possibly may have resulted in death…It means that the health system has virtually collapsed.”
“Dengue is not something new, dengue is something that has been around and will be around for a very long time, but it is a preventable disease.”