By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues – Birkett says the recent utterances in the local and foreign media which were attributed to Trinidad’s Health Minister Dr. Fuad Khan, calling for the implementation of a National Health Card to help clamp down on non-nationals seeking free medical attention at public health institutions is a cause for concern.
The Trinidad Health Minister made the remarks following the death of a 35-year-old Guyanese national Jeetindra Sookram, who was denied medical attention at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex on Thursday because he was not a T&T citizen.
Sookram and his wife were on two week vacation in the Twin Island Republic when the incident occurred.
Rodriques – Birkett during her contribution to the 2014 Budget in the National Assembly on Monday, April 07 stated that if the statements attributed to the Minister are true then it is indeed a worrisome development, adding that she has since written to the Minister to seek clarification.
“As far as I am aware there is no question when it comes to emergency service… in Guyana we don’t even ask a person seeking medical care what is their nationality and I think we must be commended,” Rodrigues – Birkett told the House.
The Guyanese Minister said if the utterances are true then it has serious implications for regional integration and the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).
In the coming weeks, Dr. Khan said, Government will roll out the cards, which would generate a policy that would allow medical services to only nationals and some non-nationals who work in Trinidad and Tobago.
“They have been coming here (non-nationals) for a long time. It creates an increase utilisation of the healthcare system. So that is why I am putting the health card in place so we could determine who the beneficiaries for that system are. But the emergency system will be a different thing. We can’t stop that…for people to get emergencies,” the Health Minister was quoted as saying.
Khan said the ministry would also put prices on the cost of medical procedures as well.
“If I am going for a national health insurance system, I must be able to cost my procedures. Our people would get it for free. Non-nationals would have to pay for it.”
Khan also advised visitors entering Trinidad to walk with their insurance.
“Maybe we should set up a policy that before you come into the country let us see your medical insurance. Medical insurance is not expensive.”