Healthy Politics, Healthy Nation Part 1

Medical practitioners are convinced that, by and large, we are to blame for our own ill-health and misfortune. “The obese lady,” they say, “could save her leg if she decided to trim that belly, and her blood sugar would be lower if she wasn’t so sedentary.”

Folks I agree; to keep healthy there’s a lot we can do but some experiences have made me stop and wonder . . . Like when I see infants die of kidney cancer and when children with sickle cell disease end up paralyzed like hypertensive men in their late seventies. Please join me in prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Dr Andre Matthew questions the state of health care in Saint Lucia.

Dr Andre Matthew questions the state of health care
in Saint Lucia.

In 2005, I graduated from the Faculty of Medical Sciences, Santa Clara, Cuba. I saw how Cuba’s health care system advanced during ‘el período especial’ when the Cuban government could not afford to keep the light on at night; when rice and peas was lunch and dinner, without chicken or any other kind of salaison. Working with minimum resources, crying “no es facil” on a daily basis, Cubans still managed to achieve some of the best indicators of health in the world. In Cuba, it is not unusual to find a diabetic who is healthy at eighty. The elderly can be seen salsa dancing in the park on a Sunday evening, well dressed, well groomed and moving like they were still twenty.

In my island of Saint Lucia, the land where beauty is as common as salt and sugar, many have made their contribution to the health of the nation. The likes of the late Hon. Romanus Lansiquot and, more recently, Mrs. Sarah Flood-Beaubrun have surely left their mark. Mrs. Flood-Beaubrun will always be revered for her efforts to protect the unborn. Even Clark Kent would have fallen in love with this Saint Lucian superwoman! The former Minister of Health stood tall and proud. She spoke eloquently, with a very evident fire in her belly.

Saint Lucia recently breathed a sigh of relief when it became public that Mrs. Flood-Beaubrun had re-entered local politics. This time she is fully clad in yellow like Sir John and Romanus Lansiquot; with her supporters flaunting her new political mantra: “Sarah will deliver!” If she succeeds, Gros and Petit Piton will dance and sing, for Saint Lucia would have her first female Prime Minister.

With all due respect to the efforts of our present Health Minister, I am compelled to say that health care seems once more to be on the back burner; despite the construction of a new national hospital, health care itself seems to be sick and dying.

A new building is unlikely to make anyone live any longer. If attitudes don’t change, if health care professionals and hospital staff are not properly trained, equipped and managed, the new national hospital will not prevent one additional amputation or another death secondary to a motor vehicular accident.

And why hasn’t anyone paused to observe and learn from the independent senator? He’s a medical doctor, and he can be seen jogging bright and early in the morning. I’m sure he has a six pack, with little or no fat on his tummy. I’m concerned because the majority of our politicians, yellow, red, white and blue, still wear a big belly, their own health in obvious jeopardy. Didn’t anyone see Sir John, looking so fit and strong? There he is, yes, right there, in my side mirror: a bronze statue, thirty feet tall, for a man whose power was the depth of his humility.

Permit me now to end part one of ‘Healthy Politics, Healthy Nation’ by echoing the Father of the Nation, Sir John Compton, who in an NTN interview lamented: “It is the politics of division that is impeding the progress of the nation!”

Andre M. L. Matthew MD is a member of the UWP and is vying for the position of deputy political leader at the party’s convention in November. of this year.

By Dr. Andre M.L. Matthew

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