Remarks by the Honourable Eugene Hamilton at the Mary Charles Hospital

December can be a busy time for all of us. And it can be an even more busy time for us who are called upon to lead. A typical day could begin like this; waking up at 4am; taking an hour walk; commune with God in spirit and in truth; rounding up workers to prepare for children’s Christmas parties and getting out on the road to ensure that all tasks are initiated; grabbing a bath, a bite; keeping abreast of the news; answering forty to fifty telephone enquiries and resolving those issues that arrive at your gate. And by 7.30 your day has just begun and despite all that I have said so far, you have just gotten through the easy part of yesterday

Imagine if I were to take you through the rest of yesterday that ended at midnight with my feet throbbing and needing a massage; you won’t get bored but it will take me far, far too long for my liking.

Yes today is another typical day and yet despite the myriad of tasks that lie ahead for me today, nothing gives me more pleasure today as we approach another Christmas, than to join with my colleagues to celebrate with you here at Mary Charles the joys of Christmas, and to bring you some Christmas cheer

It was in August last year that as a government and as a people, we crowned the refurbishment of this facility with a grand re-opening. It represented a promise made and kept by your Team Unity administration; and that is why I fully embrace the words of Pastor Shelford when he proclaimed message was about the theme “gift” was focussed around the greatest gift of love which is Christ Jesus.

And while we can take nothing away from his words and perhaps should add nothing, I take the opportunity of reminding you that the ussering in of the Team Unity Government in 2015 and the transformation of this edifice in 2016 were gifts of God to a Nation and its people at the right time and for the right reasons

On the occasion of the reopening I reminded you that:- This health facility is part of a shared vision held by persons from all walks of life and political affiliations. It represents a commitment to the values, principles and elements of a strategy called Primary Health Care.

Primary Health Care means providing needed health services close to where people live, work, worship and play. This embodies the struggle for emancipation, to self-determination and the best possible quality of life for all people through it all.

The architects of our development as a nation knew that a nation’s health is its wealth. Health care delivery is one of those building blocks of any nation that is never without health architects and I count myself as one

It is why I am proud of the many important strides that my Team Unity Government has made to advance health care delivery in the short time that we have had the privilege to build out the health care architecture

In building out the health care architecture, we have created

1. A Mental Health Treatment centre which potentially minimizes the need for hospital impatient emergency services as well as a crowded psychiatric ward.
2. An Oncology Unit so that Chemotherapy can be administered at JNF hospital especially for patients needing such services after Radiation therapy in Antigua and elsewhere
3. With support of the dedicated and enthusiastic Staff of JNF led by Dr. Wilkerson and the students of Windsor University and others, we have outfitted critical areas with five defibrillators ; 25 cardiac monitors; and installed air-conditioned at the two main operating theatres
4. Engaged the Taiwanese Veteran’s General Hospital, as partners in a three year project that will result in building capacity for early diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the dreaded diseases of the Kidney, thereby reducing the heavy cost burdens of haemodialysis
5. Only just this week we have obtained two ambulances for the State and while the resources of the enthusiastic concert team are geared towards securing another, I am actively working on securing another two. Keeping my fingers crossed that we would secure them in 2018
The naysayers will continue to take to the airwaves and huff and puff as discombobulated aspirants of power, spouting negative after negative; but what I have just outlined to you is a sample of solid achievements of a government doing great work in building out the health care architecture in this Federation

I can also assure you that as a Government we have heard you; we have observed the healthcare demands at the Ministry of Social Services; we have seen the escalating cost of overseas treatment; we have noted the anguish of patients and their families whose loved ones need haemodialysis at a cost of $125,000.00 annually; and we are responding

As part of our response we have engaged the UWI-HEU to take us through the pathway for delivering a comprehensive program supporting health care delivery for all and we expect that will come on stream during the next fiscal year 2018. This is another promise of your government being kept and we look forward to support from all people as we continue to build out the healthcare architecture

Now, we know that we have much more work to do and we, with God’s help will get it all done.

Meanwhile here at Mary Charles as we celebrate the birth of our risen Christ, and as we bring some cheer into your life, I repeat a few words spoken at the reopening in August 2016. I quote – “I am a minister of a health care system not a sick care system alone. I believe in protecting people from ill-health”. The cost of sick care is high, and getting higher every day.” Unquote

I am therefore pleased that the new Strategic Plan for Health brings focus on Health promotion; and I am pleased that someone qualified in Naturopathic Medicine now serves in that part of the Ministry.

I look forward to the next step, which is the revision of the Health Policy and the Medical Act etc. so that emerging methods for preventative health such as Naturopathy are recognised as legitimate practices in our country.

The proverb Prevention is better that the cure is prophetic in itself however I would add that it is much more cost effective as well

The year 2018 brings with it new challenges but it also brings new hopes and new opportunities; These hopes and opportunities are reflected in the budget presented a few weeks ago. There you will see the vision expressed in an emphatic way; not only in the figures but in the words crafted in the speech presented by our hard working Prime Minister

Meanwhile this is the season of Christmas. It is a time more than any other for us to share our gifts and our love. Indeed it is that time when the world received its greatest gift of love. For God so loved the world the he gave his son, not to condemn a world deserving of condemnation and damnation; but to redeem us all

Because of that redemption which is the greatest expression of the love of God through Christ; and because our Christ teaches us to love one another as we love ourselves, there should be no limit to our own dispensation of love to our fellow man and woman

We are taught that there is faith, hope, and love, of which the greatest is love therefore, as Christ has loved us, so too I admonish you to love your neighbour as you love yourself as he has also taught us.

That teaching of love must begin in the home by you loving your children and showing them how to love themselves and their neighbours. When your children know how to love, it will be expressed in the classroom and transcend into the community and the country with the result of less conflict and greater understanding

Merry Christmas to all of you as you remember to keep Christ at the centre of it all. Make a tiny place in your heart and home for him and he will envelope the entire surroundings

It is true that we observe Carnival festivities following Christmas, and into the New Year, and for those who will participate in the festive events I trust that you will not lose sight of the fact that Christ is the reason for this season and overwhelm yourselves in the secular

I therefore wish for all of us a healthy festive season that is incident free and accident free

It leaves me now finally, to wish everyone a healthy and a prosperous 2018

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