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Is Rodriguan healthcare less important than Mauritian healthcare?

AN EXASPERATED RODRIGUAN

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It is grudgingly accepted that Rodrigues sometimes comes as an afterthought for the Mauritian government in all sorts of matters and particularly in a very essential one, as has been the case for years: healthcare. I followed the Budget speech very closely and was yet again disappointed by the two-tier attention given to Mauritian and Rodriguan healthcare.

We have one regional hospital in Rodrigues for a population of around 43,000. The number of doctors available does not tally with the demand, particularly when it comes to specialists. My main concern and fury regards the availability of obstetrician and gynaecologist in Rodrigues. How can the Minister say that each second counts for Mauritian women and that’s the reason he is imposing overnight stays in hospitals for zinekolog, and inflict such disregard towards us? It may not be known to everybody but Rodrigues cannot boast of having an obstetrician and gynaecologist of its own: we depend on the whim of Mauritian gynaecologists to come every month and we know that the majority of them do not come here willingly or out of the goodness of their hearts. They come here because they have no choice, having been mandated by the Ministry. While this does not necessarily impede the service they give to patients, we, Rodriguan women feel laissées-pour-compte.

Moreover, in case the Doctor mandated to go to Rodrigues faces any unforeseen circumstances where s/he is not able to come, other doctors are summoned to go on short notice. Should the latter refuse, they are subjected to seemingly punitive transfers, as has been the case very recently according to the grapevine, of not one but three gynaecologists. This shows the lack of regard that the Ministry has towards Rodrigues, which becomes a place held as a threat rather than one where patients need treatment.

There is only one gynaecologist for all Rodriguan women, who is on call day and night, for the whole of his/her stay. We may be followed by one doctor during a month of our pregnancy and there comes another one the following month. How can this account for a sustainable continuity of care supposed to give reassurance to pregnant women? These “monthly” doctors are on call 24/7 for the whole of Rodrigues which means that they can be needed anytime anywhere. Knowing the speed (or lack thereof) of hospital transport in Rodrigues, an emergency case waiting in the Regional Hospital could well turn into a catastrophe should the Doctor be held elsewhere like in Mont Lubin or La Ferme health centers with outpatient of over 60 patients waiting to be seen. Unfortunately, this is not limited to gynaecologist. We suffer the same if we need paediatric, anaesthetic, radiology or psychiatric care.

We need at least three specialists in each field at all times in our hospitals, to cater for the possibility that the Doctor on duty is sick or unavailable due to some personal reasons. How can we expect optimum care from a person who is working 24/7? Doesn’t s/he also need downtime? It is with great irritation that we are currently observing the Ministry’s tug of war with gynaecologists, paediatricians and anaesthesiologists regarding them staying overnight in hospitals when on call when we, Rodriguans are having to suffer from the decades-long if not more inconsideration of the Ministry of Health, and the Commissioner of Rodrigues towards us.

Is our healthcare taken less seriously than that of Mauritians? Our inclusion to Mauritius should not only be the matter of pretty speeches but should also translate into concrete actions regarding our well-being. Isn’t it high time the government invested properly in our healthcare, not only improving healthcare infrastructure but providing better service and more constant care for us? Isn’t it time for the Commissioner of Rodrigues to push for our autonomy in healthcare as well, and not pick and choose in what area it wants to be autonomous? Over the past decades, the demand for Doctors has increased and so has the expectations of patients. The Mauritian government and Rodriguan Commission are yet to catch up. This maybe summarises the plight that we Rodriguans face in so many spheres. We therefore make an appeal not only to the Ministry and the Rodrigues Commission but also to the Human Rights Commission to look into the matter for this is no longer just an administrative matter but a human rights’ one regarding the rights of patients to adequate and sustainable healthcare and that of welfare in the place of work for doctors.

« In case the Doctor mandated to go to Rodrigues faces any unforeseen circumstances where s/he is not able to come, other doctors are summoned to go on short notice. Should the latter refuse, they are subjected to seemingly punitive transfers, as has been the case very recently according to the grapevine, of not one but three gynaecologists. »

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