Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 3rd 2018 Contents A14
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
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Bridge the gap
Now the Easter break is over, the tourism industry in
Tobago will be counting the opportunities lost due
to the collapse of the seabridge and the airbridge’s
Let’s not get too excited about calls for additional
financial help for Tobago (an economy already very
dependent on taxpayers dollars). But if Tobago’s
tourism forms a big part of the Government’s plans to
diversify the economy, our leaders have a funny way
of demonstrating their commitment by mismanaging
the transport links between the islands.
The rule is simple: tourists (domestic and
international) will stay away if basic services like
transport are not to be trusted, putting both Trinidad
and Tobago at a considerable disadvantage in a
ruthlessly competitive industry.
Fix the tax gap
A recent report on tax revenue in Latin American
and the Caribbean by leading international
organisations – including the OECD, the UN’s ECLAC
and the IDB – has shown that, apart from Cuba,
countries in the region collect less tax as a proportion
of GDP than the rich world’s average. That’s where the
good news (at least for the taxpayer) ends.
More relevant perhaps for us is that, between 2015
and 2016, T&T’s tax revenue as a proportion of GDP
saw a drop of nearly 8 percentage points – the biggest
fall in the region and no doubt a direct consequence
of the collapse in energy-related tax receipts and the
overall slowing down of the economy.
The statistics are a stark reminder of why
diversification is so important to make the economy
more stable. Time for the government to focus on
this instead of seeking the easy but misguided path of
further taxing the productive sector.
The marking of Autism Awareness Day may have
been somewhat overshadowed by yesterday’s public
holiday but the issue remains a big one, despite
considerable progress already being made.
Access to modern and effective therapies can go a
long way towards making the most of the talent of
our autistic children, paving the way for them to live a
happy and fulfilling life. Civil society is already doing
a lot to address this but it’s time for the government
to also do its part so that support isn’t left only for
charities and NGOs.
In the words of the Autism Parents Association of
T&T’s president, Maria Borde, ‘a society that cares and
embraces differences is a society that will prosper’.
This newspaper couldn’t express it any better.
A doctor’s plea
tired of us. Dire warnings were made:
mothers would disrupt the ward effi-
ciency, transmit infection, make the
children behave bad. Nothing of the
sort happened. It just took a differ-
ent nursing attitude to the mothers,
accepting that they were important
members of the team.
The results were clear. Wards be-
came quieter and children recovered
faster. The mothers made the work
of the nurses different. Mothers
changed and comforted their chil-
dren so nurses could do real nursing
work. Most nurses thought about
their new roles and changed their
attitude. Others left. Good riddance.
The same thing has to happen in
our Children’s ICUs. The evidence
is clear. Having parents in the ICU
helps. Encouraging families to visit
helps. Children recover faster. There
is less crowding. It saves money.
Morale amongst ICU staff improves.
Families are pleased with the care.
Hospitals care! National morale im-
proves. There’s one less thing to com-
To paraphrase Madeleine L’Engle,
we must regain the joy of life. Sad-
ness hurts but there is comfort in
caring. Without comfort our hospi-
tals will fail and collapse. By exten-
sion, our country too. Kindness and
competence go a long way.
Stop that “Trini different” non-
sense. It’s how you approach the
mother that makes the difference.
Yes, there will be problems with a
new dispensation. But the possibility
of a problem should never prevent
anyone from trying to improve.
It was a similar struggle when Eric
Cameron, June Webb and I returned
home in 1977, a new group of paedi-
atricians. Family was not allowed on
the children’s wards. You brought
your sick child up from Casualty,
handed it over to the nurse at the
door of the ward, were “allowed” an
hour or two in the afternoon “visit-
ing” hours to be with the child and
promptly issued out of the ward,
grieving child or not. The screaming
that ensued kept children up and sick
and kept them longer in hospital.
ith the as-
sistance of a
Miss May Cher-
rie, we were fi-
nally able, after 10 years, to convince
the then medical chief of staff, Dr
David Quamina, that the place for
mothers was on the ward, with their
children. We were resisted for years,
not only by the older nurses, but by
hospital administrators until they
o it appears that the an-
swer to last week’s ques-
tion, “Are parents still
being asked to leave their
ill children alone in the ICU
in T&T?” is yes.
We were informed that, “Parents
are allowed to visit the Paediatric In-
tensive Care Unit, between 10 am and
7 pm.” Nothing about family.
This is insulting. Such disdain for
people. “Allowed!” There is a world
of difference between “allowed” and
“you are part of the team that cares
for your child”. Fifty-odd years after
independence and we are still aping
discarded colonial rules.
These things no longer apply in
the UK. Our paediatricians know
this and have been trying to adopt a
family-oriented approach to hospital
care. It seems some of the nurses
and “hospital administrators” are
the problem. They know little about
modern hospital practice, especially
where children are concerned.
Please do not repeat the old ca-
nard, “Yuh in T&T, yuh know!” Or,
“Trinidadian mothers will not do
that”. Anyone saying that knows
nothing about Trini mothers who are
no different to any mother anywhere,
good, bad and indifferent.
Trini mothers will do anything to
help their child. And why not? Why
would they not do this?
Forty years ago, when we started
the Oral Rehydration Program for
the treatment of dehydration from
Gastro, I was told “those mothers
won’t sit down for so long and give
their children fluids by mouth!” They
story! They did so eagerly and have
continued to do so.
Forty years ago we were told that
Trini mothers did not want to breast-
feed their children. Bah! Humbug!
Our mothers are no different from
other mothers. They want to do the
best thing for their children.
Emperor Valley Zoo education officer Shenelle Osborne, left, carefully handles Sunny, a blue and gold macaw, as
Jordan Burke pets the bird. Also in photo, from left, are Nazihah Gay, Jada Burke and Sapphire Huggins at the
Emperor Valley Zoo, Port-of-Spain on Sunday.
PICTURE ANISTO ALVES
Dr David Bratt
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