May 03, 2017 Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon

After the termination of my UG contract in 2012, I continued to march on Labour Day with the UG unions. Last Monday was no exception. I was down with the flu in 2016 so I didn’t turn up. Next to me in the line was one of the secretarial staff who has been one of the strongest union members during my time as deputy chairman of the union. I asked how she was doing, and with a sad face, she told me her first child died last week at the Georgetown Hospital. He was in his twenties.
When she told me this, the march was proceeding east on D’Urban Street just a little past the Carnegie School of Home Economics. From that time on, I just wasn’t myself. This is one of the UG workers I really do like, and during my tenure in the union, she was extremely helpful to the union.
frddie2Her son had difficulty breathing, so she took him to the Georgetown Hospital. She said they took blood tests, admitted him, and he died the next day. She said they never did any other examination. It was a story I have heard literally hundreds of times in my career as a media operative. The unnecessary death of poor folks at the Georgetown Hospital is one of the reasons I am so angry at this country.
People die like flies in the public medical system and not one leader in government, from Cheddi Jagan in 1992 to David Granger, has ever publicly ordered a commission of inquiry into the Georgetown Hospital. A 10-year-old school girl was kicked in the stomach several weeks ago by another school kid. She went to the Georgetown Hospital and was treated and sent home. The post mortem concluded she died from internal poisoning due to ruptured organs. My God! A child dies from a kick to the stomach in the 21st century when medical science is so far developed that it is impossible to die from such injuries.
I remember vividly the video I saw of a man pulled from a truck during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles in 1992. A mob descended on this guy and pulverized him to the point that only a miracle could have saved him in the hospital. The hospital saved him. Please go to YouTube and Google and see, and read, about the power of modern medical treatment in this victim’s case.
In one of the last columns for her party newspaper, The Mirror, former President Janet Jagan wrote that more lives are saved in Guyana in the hospital system than the US. She said you die in the US if you don’t have money for medical treatment, but in Guyana it is free. There is an evil irony in that statement. Even when you don’t have to find money to pay for your illness at the Georgetown Hospital, you still die.
ivelaw-griffith.thumbnailThe last conversations I had before I left the May Day rally at the National Park were with some of my former colleagues at UG. What they told me sent shivers down my spine. Let me issue a sociological clarification before I continue. In a country that has been destroyed by ethnic sentiments, people would tell you that Indians find everything wrong with the Coalition administration because they don’t like Black leaders in government. People would say that Black Guyanese support the Coalition Government because Black leaders are in charge.
I was speaking to a multi-racial group of UG staff members both academic and non-academic and in unambiguous language they told me the current Vice Chancellor of UG, Ivelaw Griffith who it is believed is a very close to President Granger, is the most inflexible Vice-Chancellor they have worked under. This is coming from people who had to tolerate Vice Chancellors who were handpicked by President Jagdeo.
When some of the actions, instructions and policies of this current Vice Chancellor were described for me, I swear on my family’s lives, I told them none of the Vice Chancellors selected by the PPP Government would have even contemplated going in those directions. I was speechless when I was told the Vice Chancellor can decide on promotion to professorship. That would never happen in any other university in another other country in this entire world.
I worked at UG for twenty-six consecutive years with exposure at two top foreign universities, and I can say without hesitation, your academic output has to be as long as the Essequibo River before you can become a professor. The APNU+AFC is in self-destructive mode.