Categorized | National News

Health Minister Challenged Over Contracts

Former Minster for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville has refuted Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands’ comments that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) gave out several health related contracts weeks ahead of the May 10 general election.

In a statement yesterday, Dr. Darville asked for the minister to prove his findings with data and evidence.

“During his budget debate, Health Minister Hon. Dr. Duane Sands indicated that the former Progressive Liberal Party administration awarded $90 million worth of healthcare contracts, weeks before the general election and made specific reference to the awarding of a $500,000 monthly maintenance contract for the mini hospital in Abaco while the facility was closed, and a $424,000 monthly maintenance contract for the mini hospital in Exuma, by way of the Department of Public Health. These statements are absolutely untrue,” Darville said.

 

“I remind Dr. Sands that the general election is over, that the Honourable House of Assembly is not a rally stage, and all statements made therein, must be substantiated with facts. I also wish to bring to his attention that tender documents are neither signed contracts, nor proof of payment. Dr. Sands should immediately move, therefore, to lay on the table of the Honourable House, a copy of the said signed contracts to prove his claims, which is the ‘transparent’ and ‘accountable’ course of action. Or, he should apologize for misleading Parliament, and the Bahamian people. This is not a political game we are playing and people’s reputations and livelihoods are at stake.”

 

Mr. Darville added that the government had “watered down” National Health Insurance (NHI).

“Additionally, over 200,000 Bahamians are without health insurance, and too many Bahamians suffer significantly because of health challenges brought on by chronic non-communicable diseases. Yet, instead of building on a firm foundation of progress, the FNM (Free National Movement), in its short sightedness, has watered down the NHI program through significant funding cuts, while giving breaks to wealthy merchants through their tax policy.

 

“The PLP rejects Dr. Sands’ comment that the government did not receive value for money, as empirical data from our global healthcare consultants and a landmark study verified that NHI would prove to have a positive impact on the country’s GDP in both the short and long term. Subsequently, we challenge Dr. Sands to provide his empirical data to support his opposing claim.

 

“Furthermore, it is a matter of public record that many clinics, as well as the three public hospitals have been in need of repairs for many years. Therefore, putting the right infrastructure in place was part of the government’s plan to stimulate the economy of the Family Islands, bring islanders back home, and attract direct foreign investments to the southern Bahamas.

“For those reasons, it was very imprudent of the Health Minister to place a dollar value on the health of residents in these islands when he stated that $14 million was too much to spend on the upgrades and construction of the much-needed healthcare facilities in Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador,” Dr. Darville said.

He added that because the election is over, the government must cease with political campaigning and pandering to citizens.

“Finally, I advise Dr. Sands and the FNM to cease the political posturing, and get on with the business of governance. Get to work to put in place the much-needed catastrophic healthcare coverage that you promised the Bahamian people, to implement the NHIA, to complete the NHI IT platform, and to ensure that there is equity in the system, so that all Bahamians can benefit from an enhanced healthcare system. After all, it is “the people’s time!” Dr. Darville said.

During the budget debate in the House of Assembly, Dr Sands said despite owing millions of dollars in salaries and commitments, weeks before the general election the former PLP government entered into a $9 million worth of security contracts, janitorial contracts, generator purchases and other miscellaneous items “to people who may be considered the party faithful.”

Dr Sands also claimed that despite a plea from the managing director of the PHA (Public Hospitals Authority) for just under a million dollars to repair the major hospitals in the healthcare system, the money was never made available, resulting in 67 crucial beds “being taken out of commission.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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