– Announces ‘No Notice’ inspection of health facilities
It is just a matter of time before the Health Ministry is able to positively identify those involved in the dumping of the used syringes and other particulars along Lamaha Street in the city.
Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, at a press briefing yesterday disclosed that as part of his Ministry’s investigation several clues have been uncovered which will undoubtedly lead to the executors of the unhealthy and dangerous act.
However, the Minister expressed some disappointment that even after the situation was highlighted and an investigation had commenced, the Georgetown municipality had failed to remove the hazardous materials.
“I was surprised that even after the revelation and the investigation had started, it took a while before the municipality cleaned it up. That is something investigative teams had to work on and that should not have been. It shows that our ability to pick up these waste is still deficient and it shows how much work we have to do in order to keep our environment safe,” said the Minister.
The investigative team, made up of Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Shamdeo Persaud, as the Head, the Director of Technical Services, GSIP, and PAHO, had taken samples of the dumped materials which included insulin syringes and test tubes.
And according to Minister Ramsammy, the team has been able to deduce that they did not emanate from the Georgetown Public Hospital or any established private hospital.
He said that the quantity of the materials dumped was far below what is generated on a daily basis at each of the hospitals, thus suggesting that they emerged from a small-scale medical operation.
According to the Minister, some of the discovered tubes are those that are used for mercury testing which is not done locally. He further disclosed that he is only aware of two places that are involved in such activities, thus attention is being directed accordingly.
“It doesn’t mean it came from them but whoever is responsible ought to know that whilst it is difficult to pinpoint where it came from we have the one ultimate clue and that is names. Patients’ names were on the test tubes,” the Minister divulged.
Armed with the names, the Minister said that his team has a good chance of finding out where the named patients received medical attention.
But though there is no guarantee that persons will be fully co-operative with the Ministry’s investigative team, the Minister is optimistic that the desired results will be had once the current course of action continues.
“If we carry it through the way we have been doing, people will co-operate. In trying to get the health facilities to do the right things we have taken a collective responsibility type of approach for the betterment of the people and not in a punitive way.”
Moreover, the aim is not to “jail people” but rather to ensure that such a callous occurrence is not repeated. However, he cautioned that there is no guarantee that the need for disciplinary action will not be required at the end of the investigation.
No Notice Inspection
According to the Minister, his Ministry is sure to detect wrong doings practised by any health facility through its application of the Health Facilities Licensing Act which has been in place for almost one year.
With the Act, the Minister said that the Ministry has been inspecting all registered health facilities, including hospitals, laboratories, the 5 G Dialysis Centre, the Cancer Institute and the Global Imaging operation located at the Mercy Hospital.
The Minister disclosed that inspections are carried out after at least two weeks of notice is given to the respective facilities. “We call them and say we are coming and it is never less than two weeks of notice. We tell them who is coming and what they are coming for and we stick to that.”
However, the routine practice, according to the Minister, has now raised the question as to whether things are simply being put in place for the purpose of inspection.
In order to ensure that the right practices are maintained, Dr Ramsammy disclosed that the Act also caters to the conducting of inspections even without notice.
“The Ministry of Health will commence the ‘no notice’ inspection of these facilities so that we can make sure that people are not doing the right thing only for the renewal of their license.”
Just yesterday the Minister held a meeting with the relevant officers to discuss the implementation of the ‘no notice’ inspection aspect of the Act.
And according to the Minister, even doctors offices will be subjected to this level of inspection. He noted though that it will not replace the inspection with notice which will continue as usual.
“As long as I suspect that they (doctors’ office) might be doing something that is not in compliance with the safety regulations of the law I can inspect them…I can send my inspectors.”
According to the Minister, the aim of this move is not to impose dictatorial tactics or make life difficult for health professionals but rather to ensure that citizens are protected.
The Minister has underscored that the issue of safety in hospitals and health centres are of paramount importance for the overall safety of the population.
“It is clear that situations like the unlawful dumping of medical waste can only be resolved if there exist the ability to regulate all environments where health services are provided,” the Minister asserted.
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