Government defends position on overseas medical assistance for nationals

ROSEAU, Dominica, March 27, CMC – The Dominica government Tuesday defended its policy of assisting nationals seeking medical attention overseas after a 21-year-old cancer patient died in Trinidad and Tobago on Monday night.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said that when Shernel Prince travelled to Trinidad on the first occasion for medical treatment, the government contributed TT$185,000 (US$30,800) towards her medical expenses.

“Having done that the family decided they wanted to do a second procedure. The Prime Minister’s policy…is that for us to provide you with assistance for you to go out of Dominica for medical services, you must get a referral from a consultant doctor resident in Dominica”.

Skerrit said in addition, the person seeking medical treatment overseas must also submit a letter requesting assistance in order to facilitate proper accounting.

He said when he patient left for Trinidad and Tobago on the second occasion, she did so without government knowledge and it was only when she arrived in Port of Spain contact was made with the government seeking about TT$200,000 (US$33.330).

“No with no documentation I cannot instruct the public service to make payments and there were other concerns which the consultants in respect as to whether the person really required the medical surgery etc.”

Media reports here said that the woman had surgery last week to repair a leaking valve in her heart and that efforts to help fund that major operation had included a local radio station raising EC$48,000 (US$17, 700).

The media reports said that the family had recently expressed disappointment that efforts to obtain additional funds from the Dominica government to assist Prince had failed.

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