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President of Trinidad and Tobago calls for leadership in health

Port of Spain, Jan 15 (Prensa Latina) Trinidad and Tobago today needs visionary leadership in the health system after Covid-19 disrupted and dislocated the public sector, said the country's president, Paula-Mae Weekes.

The pandemic has forced organizations to gear their operations toward digital advances and inventive thinking, the president said as she delivered the keynote address at a symposium of the University of the West Indies and the Medical Association.

‘The recent past has highlighted the critical importance of carefully and deliberately building resilient, responsive and flexible health and social systems’, said the head of state on the Saint Agustine campus. The setbacks caused by the long arm of Covid-19 will be felt for years to come, but we can try to strike some balance by staying alert and listening to the cry for change, she remarked.

There are problems in the system before the pandemic, such as the prevalence of non-communicable diseases, the shortage of specialists and nurses, the long waiting times in hospitals, she added.

Plus, unnecessarily complex administrative processes, unacceptable working conditions, and unavailability of critical equipment, Paula-Mae Weekes mentioned. But since access to health care is a key piece for the development of the economy and society, it is important to strengthen and improve the national system, she considered.

For this, she said, more funds, personnel, training and innovation are needed, but “without coherent and effective leadership, they will never come true,” the president emphasized.

So, in this time of transition, anyone who could be the key to strategic change could be a visionary leader, she mused.

She called for perceiving and taking advantage of the opportunities for innovation and institutional strengthening presented by technological advances and the evolution of best practices within the different levels of medical institutions and services.

I hope the symposium will be “an incubator of talent and expertise” where stakeholders advance the country’s health agenda, encourage inventive solutions to problems and gaps, and represent the start of new research and cooperation, she concluded.

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