Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 10th 2018 Contents A18
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley may have generated
more questions than answers to the changes he made
in his cabinet lineup yesterday.
It was clear that he had to do something about Darryl
Smith who had sought to be the "best performing
minister" but who, to put it mildly, appears to have had
Shifting Smith to the housing ministry that the PM
will now head appears to be one way of keeping tabs
on him while saving him from the ignominy of a iring.
The PM seems hesitant to ire people without giving
them a chance to redeem themselves.
Take the case of Marlene McDonald who has had
several reincarnations while still facing the prospect of
an inquiry into her actions in former portfolios.
And what of Shamfa Cudjoe as Minister of Sport and
Youth Affairs who many regarded as being out of her
depth in the tourism ministry?
Is Cudjoe's replacement in tourism expected to bring
any new vibrancy to the ministry and put an end to the
petty squabbles we have heard about?
None of the reaction has been positive and con irms
the feeling that the PM had started out with a weak
cabinet that did not have the capacity to deliver the
kind of administration he promised.
Reshuffles are often expected to bring a new
dynamism to the cabinet and give some ministers an
opportunity to shine even brighter.
We are not convinced that yesterday's changes will
have that kind of impact.
Had it been fully in place, the National Policy in Gender
and Development would have at least provided a basis
for more level-headed discussions of two burning
Yesterday's protest by LGBTI activists outside
Parliament and Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-
Primus' revelation that there has never been a policy
on sexual harassment in the public service, show up
gaps and shortcomings on matters of gender that can
potentially hinder progress in key areas.
The reality is that no framework currently exists in
T&T to facilitate full and equal participation of men
and women in the development process all because no
political administration is willing to push past conflicts
over sexual orientation and reproductive rights.
Tommy Joseph already has the chorus. He tried it
out yesterday morning on Vibe CT105 as the morning
team broke the news that our golden girl Michelle
had just struck gold on the Gold Coast. It reminds us
of Sparrow's Penny when she won the Miss Universe
crown in 1977.
Members of the Dance Group Icons during their performance at the World of Dance Trinidad and Tobago (WODTT) qualifiers
at the National Academy for the Performing Arts in Port-of-Spain over the weekend. PICTURE EDISON BOOODOOSINGH
born before 1979, the last year when
smallpox vaccination was given any-
where in the world. If it were not for
some radical, fundamentalist Muslim
groups in Nigeria and Afghanistan
and a corrupt, communist regime
in Venezuela, we would be close to
doing the same thing for measles and
Poverty was endemic in the ifties;
starving, marasmus were common
on the wards. Today the problem
is overweight. In 2010 famine and
malnutrition combined killed about
one million people, whereas obesity
killed three million. In 2014 more
than two billion people were over-
weight compared to 850 million who
suffered from malnutrition. Half of
mankind is expected to be over-
weight by 2013. One third of Trinidad-
ians is overweight already.
People say there's too much vio-
lence? In 2010 obesity and related
illnesses killed about three million
people, terrorists killed a total of
7,697. For the average Trinidadian,
Milo poses a far deadlier threat than
What's the problem then? Not only
old fogies with warped memories but
expectations. It took little to make
someone happy 70 years ago. How
do you bring joy today, to bored,
overpaid and overweight people who
believe they are entitled?
doubled, from 40 to70-plus. Most of
this is because we have virtually elim-
inated premature death ie death from
childhood infectious diseases. In the
so-called "golden age" of the ifties,
children in T&T were dying in droves
from malaria, typhoid fever, gastro,
diphtheria and polio. I saw children
with tetanus and whooping cough on
the paediatric wards at Port-of-Spain
Hospital as late as 1980. There were
few premature babies around to in-
crease the ranks of the disabled. Most
died. I have igures from the Prem
Unit at POSGH from the 70's. Fifty per
cent mortality in 1979. Death was so
common grieving parents were com-
forted, "You could make ah nex one!"
Sex, the second great island reliever.
Now a child's death is
an automatic cause
for a lawsuit or inves-
These days, less
than ive per cent of
children die before reaching adult-
hood. In the developed world the rate
is under one per cent. Vaccinations,
antibiotics, improved hygiene and a
better medical infrastructure are the
reasons. Not diet as so many people
think. Smallpox has been eradicated.
You can estimate the age of people
by checking for the smallpox scar on
their arms. If it's there, they were
Having written critically
about the harm the
SEA exam is doing to
our children and the
lack of a family-ori-
ented paediatric ser-
vice in the PICU at EWMSC, it was
gratifying to have two positive expe-
riences last week. On Monday I was
shown, by a new mother, a noti ica-
tion titled, "Kids Get Warm Welcome
at Mt Hope Women's Hospital: New
mothers can welcome their entire
home at their bedside to meet the
newest member of their family!"
That's a move in the right direction.
Congratulations to the staff.
On Friday a child came in needing
referral to an eye specialist. Parents
were having some problems getting
the referral at the Health Centre. Two
phone calls later, problem solved,
the system worked and hopefully by
today the child will be on the way
to recovery. Congrats to my two col-
leagues who assisted. They know who
So, despite the best efforts of in-
competent, racially motivated politi-
cians moving around in escorted cars
and helicopters while the rest of us
ight up with the traf ic on land, sea
and air, we have some commendable
things going on.
My friends, old fogies all, beg to dif-
fer. Through their rum or nowadays,
whiskey-tinted spectacles, they af irm
that things were better in the forties,
ifties and sixties. Not only in T&T.
World was healthier, less epidemics,
less wars, less violence, they like to
say. People were happier.
Some of them like to wax poetic
about life in ancient agricultural so-
cieties and speechify about the pleas-
ures of the simple life, when women
knew their place, no doubt on their
Some statistics seem in order. In the
late twentieth century life expectancy
Dr David Bratt
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