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—govt seems unconcerned
Pandemic wreaking havoc
Only those comfortable with the proverbial ostrich posture would deny the Irfaan Ali regime is mishandling the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). They have refused to take a national and holistic approach in combating this deadly disease, preferring to go alone at serious detriment to the nation, economy, workers, and vulnerable in our midst. From the World Bank, International Labour Organisation, World Health Organisation to the man in the street, know the fallout from this pandemic is wreaking havoc in the lives of people. Only the regime is operating as though impervious to the problems or alienated from them.
The infected cases and deaths are climbing. Whereas initially the senior population was considered most vulnerable and dying at greater rate, with the government operating as though this is acceptable or a means of ridding society of our elderly, the virus is now eating away at the younger generation. The Minister of Health recently announced there is an increase in hospitalisation and more infected persons are being placed on ventilators. I am advised this is not a good sign. Healthcare professionals will get into the nitty gritty of the side effects of this dependency on ventilators, but this is a very serious point of care management in the health status of patients.
Stakeholders are being excluded from participating in what should have already been a national cohesive response to a national pandemic. In this politically polarised environment, it is not rocket science to recognise the importance of a holistic approach given the premium people place, in times of fear and uncertainty, in those they trust. The opposition, like trade union and religious organisations, which are mass based, have not been approached to play a role. Any person who understands handling epidemic or national crisis knows trust is important to positive results and organisations of the stated nature have constituents whose trust they have cultivated.
Increasing infections and deaths
The Ali regime is allowing for the increase in infection and deaths by their continued recklessness and isolated posture in dealing with the virus. People are human beings not machines and no society can develop without its people. The attitude of the regime treating people as though they are just statistics without feelings, family, and the desire to live a healthy and long life is callous, cruel and abominable. It is poor management to say to the nation vaccine is being pursued as though this is the magic bullet Guyana needs. Managing COVID-19 requires more than vaccination. It needs a national cohesive policy that will factor in all consequences and alleviating factors.
The Government is on one side, the Opposition on the other, and the people in the midst practically left on their own, not knowing what to do, who to rely on or trust. This is not the time for division, yet the regime continues to pursue a divisive path. Many of the present corps of politicians cannot see beyond narrow partisan interest to recognise the disease does not discriminate and they are not insulated or immune.
I have seen in the media leaders of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), who are in the administration of the affairs of state, doing outreach in Region Six to talk to people about the virus. Region Six is the PPP/C’s stronghold. According to data put out by the Ministry of Health, Region Four has the highest number of infected cases but has not seen similar outreach. This region is the stronghold of the People’s National Congress Reform, which is part of the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change coalition. It requires political magnanimity and maturity to put nation and people above self. Guyana is in short supply of this quality.
Economic fallout and political inaction
The economic fallout from COVID-19 has been grave and will continue to be unless something is done, by the way of a national programme, to harness the situation. People are catching hell to eke out a daily living much less make ends meet. International organisations have warned of the economic impact on women and children and urged governments to address these. In Guyana many women are healthcare/frontline workers, in retail, vending, the security service and are single parents. There is no plan in place to examine and tackle their needs inspite of the warnings.
A third of this nation’s population lives below the poverty line. Even though Guyana has a public healthcare system many cannot access it or afford to fill their prescriptions at private pharmacies if the state does not have the requisite medications or treatment. Many therefore feel forced to ignore or delay seeking medical attention. Sometimes when they do it is too late. Among the working class is the working poor who also face similar challenges. And where many in society rely on remittances from loved ones, who are presently experiencing economic challenges, the reality is dire.
The regime has no constructive response to the challenges people are facing. They have done nothing outside of the $25,000 pittance which was not even given to everyone. $25,000 is not a national economic response but tantamount to throwing crumbs at people as though they are dogs or fouls. Instead of admitting to their shortcomings and reach out to others they continue to go it alone, excluding stakeholders in ensuring a national response, much to the detriment of society. They are acting as though they don’t care if we are all infected, die, forced to beg or live in abject poverty once they are able to retain power.