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CHINESE MEDICS FOR TT

Stories by Sasha Harrinanan in Beijing, China Tuesday, February 25 2014

click on pic to zoom in

Chinese medical personnel may soon fill current staff shortages in Trinidad and Tobago’s health sector, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has announced.

“We are expanding the health sector...but our challenge in creating more capacity is the lack of medical personnel. So we will enter with China into protocols governing Chinese medical personnel coming to TT to help us in the interim, until we can train more medical personnel, (including) nursing staff at the nurses training academy (in El Dorado). So health is an important protocol which I look forward to discussing.”

The Prime Minister was speaking with reporters in Beijing early yesterday afternoon (about 1 am TT time), shortly after her arrival at the Villa 18, Diaoyutai State Guest House, where she is staying as a guest of the Government of the People’s Republic of China during an Official Visit to commemorate the 40th anniversary of bi-lateral relations between the two countries.

Trinidad and Tobago currently has a shortage of nurses and doctors and over the years has entered into agreements for such medical personnel from Cuba, the Phillipines, India and Nigeria.

Recently, Persad-Bissessar commissioned a teaching hospital in San Fernando with the aim of increasing the number of local medical practitioners. The Academy of Nursing and Allied Health Nurses Training Academy, was also opened by Persad-Bissessar last October, also to bolster the number of nurses and other health care professionals at the country’s hospitals and medical institutions.

An exchange of Chinese medical personnel follows discussions Persad-Bissessar had with China’s President Xi Jinping during his official visit to this country last June. Then it was said that 100 Chinese medics would be sought for Trinidad and Tobago. Talks also included funding by the Chinese government for the construction of the Arima hospital.

Highlights of the Persad-Bissessar’s five-day trip includes tomorrow’s formal opening of TT’s first embassy in China, located in the capital Beijing, and her feature address at a Business Forum in Shanghai on Thursday, hosted by InvesTT.

Braving the chilly conditions while standing under the portico of Villa 18 yesterday afternoon, Persad-Bissessar also updated the TT media contingent on her ideas for Chinese investment in hotel stock “back home”.’

“I’ve asked for us to look at the possibility of modernising/upgrading the Magdalena Grand (in Tobago) and/or looking on the north-west coast of Trinidad to see if we can develop hotel facilities there with the Chinese.”

Referring to InvesTT’s upcoming Business Forum in Beijing and Shanghai, the Prime Minister said “whilst China is one of the fastest-growing nations in the world (with) the second largest economy” TT’s small size is made up for by the brilliance and creativity of its people.

She then expressed confidence that by working with China, “we can do well to sustain our economy in TT; develop and grow that economy. So I look forward to our bi-lateral talks.”

Turning to matters concerning TT politics, Persad-Bissessar was asked for her opinion on a recent poll conducted by the North American Caribbean Teachers’ Association (NACTA) about approval ratings.

The poll indicated the People’s Partnership administration’s popularity had declined significantly while the Prime Minister’s own approval rating was higher than that of her coalition, at 44 percent. Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley’s approval rating was one point behind, at 43 percent.

“I haven’t seen it but somebody sent me a text about it,” Persad-Bissessar disclosed. “A poll is a snapshot of a point in time but I was very heartened to know I’m one point ahead of my opponent.”

Smiling as she referred to being “in the lead” ahead of Rowley, the Prime Minister also told reporters, “We’ll see what happens next week and the week thereafter. We continue to work for all of the people of TT, and that’s why I’m here.”

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