The Prime Minister was responding to questions from the media on allegations of theft at the CLFA and the deaths of two children after questionable surgery at a Colombia hospital.
She was speaking at a function to launch the construction phase of the Maracas Bay Improvement Project.
The Life Fund is the brainchild of Persad-Bissessar who has on numerous occasions expressed her pride at it being the first initiative (Cabinet note number one) of her Government upon entering office in 2010.
Asked whether she was concerned by the reports with respect to the CLFA, Persad-Bissessar responded, “any wrongdoing I am concerned about. Should there be wrongdoing found those who have done so wrong will need to be punished”.
Concerns were raised by a local doctor about one of the Colombian medical institutions sanctioned by the CLFA where sick children would be sent for urgent medical treatment.
The Prime minister was also questioned on the concerns which surfaced his year following the deaths of at least two local children at the—Colombian—facility Fundacion Clinica Shaio in Bogota.
The Express exclusively reported the contents of a confidential letter, dated February 18, 2015, where Dr Camille Greene, a paediatric consultant at the cardiology clinic at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, wrote to Dr Vindra Singh, clinical head of the Department of Paediatric Medicine, expressing concerns about the competency and capability of the doctors based there.
Health Minister to look into allegations
Persad-Bissessar said she read this report in the newspaper and the matter was raised and discussed at the Cabinet meeting yesterday.
“I read that in the newspaper. I don’t know if it is a fact….The matter was discussed at the Cabinet today and the Minister of Health will look into those allegations,” said Persad-Bissessar.
Over the past five years Persad-Bissessar said she has contributed some $200,000 to the fund from her salary.
“Matters are being investigated by the Fraud Squad and I would have to be into those who illegally took money out of the fund,” she said.
The Prime Minister said the new Couva Children’s hospital will be able to treat some of the cases but not all.
Interim chairman of the CLFA Dr Colin Furlonge has promised a thorough audit into all allegations of theft and financial misappropriation as uncovered in a TV6 News and Express investigation over the last few days.
Furlonge, who is also the Chief Medical Officer, said questions only arose in 13 cases of the 221 children the fund has helped.
On another issue, when questioned on whether there were any talks with the Third Force Movement, Persad-Bissessar said, “We have not given that any thought or discussion at this point in time.”