Even though Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has apologized for making serious blunders in the vaccination rollout, political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath says both Deyalsingh and his technocrats should be held accountable for putting the elderly at risk.
Speaking to Guardian Media, Ragoonath expressed disgust with the plight of the elderly, many of whom were forced to wait in long lines in the blistering heat and rain, waiting for vaccines earlier this week.
“It is disgusting, it is heart-wrenching and that’s why I speak this way,” Ragoonath said, adding, “It is totally unacceptable for a country, for a minister and technocrats to say they don’t know the culture of our people and they didn’t expect this.”
Ragoonath said the minister’s lack of foresight and planning was unacceptable.
“Bearing in mind the Minister said since March or April, they had put in place all planning to roll out the vaccination drive. For that fiasco to happen, it is unacceptable. Government ministers should be made to account for shortfalls. But unfortunately, this government does not believe in accounting for shortfalls,” Ragoonath said.
He expressed surprise with Deyalsingh’s apology.
“That is the first time a government minister in this regime has admitted that something went wrong. It’s about time, someone stands up and say enough is enough. You have to take responsibility if you can’t do the job. You can’t say you have been planning since March and you ended up in that kind of fiasco on Wednesday and Thursday,” he added.
Ragoonath also said while the elderly languish, vaccines were being saved for special interest groups.
“They are saving vaccines for bankers and not for the people who are most susceptible for becoming infected,” he added.
He noted that other parts of the developed world have been successful in administering vaccines safely and effectively.
“Minister Deyalsingh has been boasting that they have a team in place to roll out the vaccine and clearly their vision is myopic and they only see what they want to see. The rest of the world has demonstrated how to get this done. Guyana has 44 per cent of the population having one dose already,” Ragoonath said.
He explained that rather than putting people in cramped health centres, the government should have identified schools near health centres that had enough space for a proper vaccination rollout.
But political analyst Dr Winford James says despite Deyalsingh’s blunder, he should not be fired for making one mistake, especially since people outside of the government believe he did a great job, prior to this blunder.
Dr James also said he did not expect Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to fire Deyalsingh.
“One cannot deny the scenes we are seeing are close to being horrific and unacceptable and they should have thought it out better,” Dr James said.
He added, “Minister Deyalsingh has, up to a certain point, done a good job, and the Prime Minister knows his heart is in the right place.”
Dr James said however that bigger sites such as schools should have been used for the vaccination process rather than sending people into cramped health centres.
Dr James also said he did not support the call for the Elections and Boundaries Commission to administer the rollout of vaccines.
“There are bigger sites, more protected sites that the government could have used. When you put people outside the centres you cannot control social distancing, those centres are not marked,” he added.
James said he has not yet been vaccinated, noting that he did not plan to stay in long lines, putting himself and others at risk just to get a vaccine.
On Wednesday, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar called on the Prime Minister to fire Deyalsingh saying he had placed the elderly at great risk and distress.