A sector dependent on the economy

April 4th, 2023

To introduce technology and the IT required, we need to get a massive amount of training and the psychological adjustment in our human resource to ensure success.

Dr. Kongshiek Achong Low

Dr. Kongsheik Achong Low
Executive Chairman, Medcorp Limited

T&T’s health sector has seen the relaxation of many pandemic restrictions in the past year. Covid-19 PCR or lab acquired antigen test results are no longer required for entry into the country and the mask mandate came to an end. In June 2022, Cabinet approved the addition of the Monkeypox Virus to the list of dangerous infectious disease in T&T and while there are no cases of the virus in the country, to the time of publishing, the sector remains prepared to deal with it.

What will the health sector face in 2023? According to Dr. Kongsheik Achong Low, Executive Chairman of Medcorp Ltd, the challenges faced are not unique just to the current time that we exist. While some of the challenges he mentioned are as a result of the pandemic, others are those that are faced throughout. “The challenges are usually to do with the delivery of quality healthcare and healthcare of a standard, along with the complexity of the type of healthcare we deliver (in terms of what people have as their expectation).” He further explained, “Our limitations have to do with whatever the economy will present to us in terms of the financial ability that we have for improving equipment and putting systems in place. Those things take a lot of time and money. It also has to do with the quality of staff and their ability to learn and understand what is being done.”

What about technology and its role? “You have to embrace technology,” said the doctor. “In running the business and in doing a more complicated type of medical procedure, technology makes things more efficient and therefore “easier”. Eventually, if the technology is installed and is working well, it will make things less expensive.” He added, “But to introduce technology and the IT that is required, we need to get a massive amount of training and the psychological adjustment in our human resource to ensure success. The Government has to train people into that space. See it is an investment.”

Can the medical industry attract investors and generate forex? Medical Tourism. The doctor explained, however, that the private sector cannot do this on its own. “The Government has to facilitate the private sector so that we can compete with other countries on price for procedures” he said. “People can go to other countries and have procedures done at a lesser cost. That is because, for instance in Chile, the government went on a thrust towards trying to generate forex and they essentially gave complete concessions to the hospital industry. That is the only way we can hope to really compete on price.”
Another way to generate forex in the long term? The service attitude. “We have to get our human resource into the right type of psychological and mental mode. It really would help if people involved in hospitality training could assist. I think that is where the Government can help by having free hospitality training for anyone.”

What is his projected outlook? “From where I am seeing it, this sector is dependent on the economy in the country because obviously, fewer patients, less ability to generate funds. One of the things we need, not just for this sector but for every sector in the country is the removal of bureaucracy and red tape involved in doing business in T&T.”

by Bavina Sookdeo