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St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Violent crime is costing the federation not only in terms of the trauma and tears accompanying the mourning of loved ones, former Chief Medical Officer Dr Patrick Martin is advising.

He is expressing concern that the killings in the federation are having a real financial cost on the health services.

There have been thirteen homicides so far halfway through the year including a double homicide in St Kitts Saturday night, and the killing of one woman in Nevis one day earlier.

Dr Martin tells WINN FM that the health services are carrying a heavy financial burden from the effects of violent crime in the country.

“When persons are killed on the spot there’s no work for the health community except for the pathologist, otherwise than that if the person is injured, you have to factor in the work that has to be done by the ambulance service, the emergency room personnel in terms of resuscitation for one or two hours and then mobilizing the operating theatre resources for another two to four maybe six hours of surgery, then possibly either intensive care or surgical ward admission for several days to weeks, you are talking about thousands of dollars, devoted to something that is avoidable. They are resources that should otherwise be directed to improving the health services.”

Dr Martin gave this explanation in a bid to show how costly to just the Health Service what some call a killing spree in St Kitts and Nevis is proving.

"Several years ago colleagues in Nevis did a calculation, that it cost about $2000.00 EC dollars per hour to resuscitate, so using those figures we can get an idea of the expenditure in terms of human and material resources to keep a person alive as a result of the trauma, especially the penetrating trauma, the gun shot trauma. At that time it cost about $2000.00 dollars per day to keep JNF open, for the amount of money spent to keep hospital open per day, you are spending per hour to resuscitate a gunshot victim who invariably, does not pay a bill.”

The former CMO is also expressing concern about the economic cost to the country from the effects of violent crime.

Dr Martin says a runaway crime situation can impact on visitor arrivals, and warns that investors tend to shy away from countries with an unstable situation because of high rates of crime and violence.

He says while St Kitts and Nevis has to date largely escaped that kind of impact, that could change if things get out of hand.

Patrick Martin says too, it is time that it is officially acknowledged what many are thinking, that some of the homicides are gang-related revenge killings.

“A couple of us in the health sector made that call in 1998, it’s about time that we get more indication of what the intelligence is saying from the security services standpoint, but from the public health standpoint especially colleagues working in the emergency services the  profile is very, very clear in terms of some of the shootings. Just reading through what the police report said, unknown assailants entered and opened fire, which suggests very clearly that someone was a target.  So why are people targeted if it’s not to settle scores?”



Ken Richards
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