By a former health practitioner
Health is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a state of complete mental, physical and emotional well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
This accepted definition includes the animate and inanimate environment as well as the physical, mental and social dimensions of human life and so puts each of us in a position of self-determining authority to define our own health.
The question may be asked: What are the factors needed to facilitate health and to what extent do these exist in our tri-island state?
In Grenada, the general perception seems to be that health is the sole responsibility of the Government with specific responsibility being assumed by the Ministry of Health for the administration of the process. In my humble opinion and validated by experience in the field, the unbiased view shows that with the available resources and with the support of development partners such as PAHO and PPS as well as friendly governments, significant provisions are made to address and facilitate the health needs of the citizens.
This support is marked by a multi-faceted approach and includes training and re-training of staff at all levels, membership in professional health-related organisations ,raising the professional status of nurses by ensuring they are on an even playing field with other students at university level as pertains in the UK and USA for many decades despite the rhetoric.
It is important to spare a thought for the other disciplines and professions who form a part of the care team. Let us not forget the physiotherapists, dieticians, health-promotion staff, environmental health workers, formerly referred to as sanitary inspectors. Let us not forget the dentists, opticians, counsellors, technicians in various areas, the mental health workers, the first-aiders, the faith-based organisation and those charged with the duty of enforcing the laws and regulations laid down by the lawmakers. Let us not forget those who work around the clock to ensure we have safe drinking water.
Even now I hear you thinking and even saying that is all well and good, but Government cannot and should not be allowed a ‘free pass.’ I agree, but should we as individuals have that privilege? The answer is a resounding NO!!
Do we take seriously the time-proven adage, ‘Prevention is better than cure?’ If we truly did, we would not drive so recklessly, there would be no drinking and driving, there would be no engaging in unprotected sex, we would decrease the salt and sugar content in our meals, we would adhere very strictly to the Covid-19 protocols. All these and many more have serious and fatal consequences. Government machinery cannot and is not designed to watch our every move. In these very crucial times, we cannot afford to eliminate personal responsibility from the equation. It is imperative that we understand personal responsibility must come into play to preserve our health and well-being. It is an indisputable fact that health security and/ or quality is closely hinged on our personal responsibility.
If a member of the health team, whether is the captain or the cleaner, chooses to be less than polite, shows no compassion to a client/patient or acts in a blatantly political way to the detriment of the one who seeks to be helped or served, how then is this the fault of the “government? ” How then, is the government culpable? The answer goes back to professionalism and personal responsibility. If my neighbour chooses to ignore the warnings about Dengue Fever and endangers lives by his practices, where should the blame be placed? When garbage is dumped indiscriminately and results in negative environmental health consequences, the blame must be laid at the feet of those responsible, whether it is an individual, a group, a trucker or a haulage company. Time to stop saying “let us call on the authority to do something.” Many times the culprits are hiding behind the saying, much like the murderer helping to search for the missing person.
Those who know better must do better, be better and act better. Let us lead by example. There is too much complaining and too much opposing for political expediency. The tenets of health must not be sacrificed on the political altar by those seeking to one day have the reigns of office in the STATE. To do so, is inhumane.
Bargaining agents must step up to the plate and demand the highest standards from their members at all levels. They must demand confidentiality, respect for authority and all-round professional behaviour at all times. Let us enhance the health of the nation by acknowledging those who are worthy and taking necessary decisive action to correct defaulters. Our health depends on it. The development of our nation depends on it. Personal responsibility is a fundamental aspect of our health quality.