Lewis Calls For Re-Opening of Five Islands Clinic and Proper Resourcing of Grays Farm Clinic

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

I call on the Government to put actionable plans in place for the re-opening of the satellite clinic in Five Islands. 

The closure of the clinic over the last few years has forced those in need of medical services to trek all the way to the Grays Farm facility. Clearly, it is unfair and unethical to force sick persons to travel that long a distance for medical care, given that the Five Islands facility was constructed to avoid that very situation.

While residents continue to cry out for use of the facility, the Government has offered no reason for the prolonged closure, besides “a lack of resources”. This is a stunning admission of failure, and a betrayal of its commitment to provide universally available primary healthcare. 

I further call on the Government to properly resource and maintain the Grays Farm Clinic. The Grays Farm Clinic has experienced regular shortages of critical resources, including both medical supplies and cleaning supplies. In addition, maintenance of the facility has been woefully inadequate.

To address the gaping hole left by the Gaston Browne Administration, I have made several interventions to donate medical supplies, cleaning supplies, and material to fix the leaking roof. Nevertheless, the time has come for the Government and the Minister of Health, Molwyn Joseph, to deliver a lasting solution to the persistent problems plaguing our community healthcare facilities.

It is exceptionally shameful that even after closing one of our community clinics, the Government still failed to keep the single remaining clinic adequately resourced and maintained.

I further call for the resumption of night clinic services in Grays Farm and the provision of an on-site doctor, as was the case under the Baldwin Spencer Administration. These arrangements fully addressed the primary healthcare needs of villagers, and helped to relieve the burden on MSJMC, which could then prioritise handling the most critical cases.

The Grays Farm Dental Clinic is also severely under-resourced, and this matter must also be immediately addressed. 

Adding insult to injury, sanitation on the clinic grounds is also lacking. A trench was created months ago, during the recent Rural West ABLP primary, to allow water from the hillside to flow through the clinic compound towards Federation Road. Today this trench remains incomplete, serving only as a collection point for stagnant water and a breeding ground for mosquitoes – an additional health hazard.

The healthcare shortfalls in Rural West are only part a disturbing national trend. Many other community health institutions are currently starved of resources and inadequately maintained. I condemn this blatant disregard for public health in the strongest terms.

It is past time for the Government to get serious about ensuring that quality primary health-care is available at the doorsteps of citizens and residents in all our communities. This is critical for overall public health, the reduction of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and the achievement of sustainable development, which is one of the stated goals of the ongoing SIDS Conference.

Richard S. Lewis MP

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