Prioritizing investments in Guyana’s health is a key input towards achieving human resource productivity. And in order to ensure that all Guyanese enjoy a good life in this regard, strategic investments will be made into this sector this year following the implementation of a comprehensive review of the national health strategy.
The national health strategy came into being by the direct inputs of directors that are working in the Ministry of Public Health, along with input and guidance from international agencies like the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
This coalition government reviewed that strategy at a retreat in August last year and among others, decided that the Ministry of Public Health shifts focus on primary health care as to promote greater integration of services including health surveillance especially in the remote locations of Guyana with a focus
on preventative rather than curative medicine.
Government will also be placing emphasis on a programme for Governance and General Administration. This initiative is critical to the smooth implementation of the Public Health Ministry’s mandate especially with respect to human resources and communication, and particularly in the procurement and supply chain management system.
This is also a most timely and welcomed programme as it is imperative that Guyana as a nation becomes more responsible for managing its own health outcomes even as this government invests large sums of money in drugs, medical supplies, equipment and facilities to meet the growing demand for services in this sector.
But one must not turn a blind eye to the many challenges and constraints in this sector, which is the main reason for a total of nearly $1.2 billion being allotted to it. The approximately $57.2 million that is being used for capital expenditure is expected to correct the limited spaces which is inhibiting the Ministry from functioning efficiently as one would recall that the Ministry lost two major buildings due to fire. The NewsRoom understands that some $15 million dollars has been allocated to the upgrading of the electrical system for the Food and Drug Department where more than $10 million would be used to acquire a mercury analyser and an atomic absorption spectrophotometer.
Approximately $1.1 billion dollars was allotted as current expenditure for this programme because of a dire shortage of human resources which this present government inherited. It was noted by the Minister of Public Health that these human resources are very much needed for the successful implementation of a proper health care vision.
Furthermore, strategies are devised not only to attract but to retain staff within the Ministry including the improvement of terms and conditions of employment.
Relevant trainings are also being done to build the capacity of personnel required to implement this strategy especially within the Food and Nutrition Department. Eleven training programmes were done and 21 more are planned for this year with inputs from UNICEF and PAHO/WHO.
Additionally, the Regional and Clinical Services Programme will ensure that consistent and adequate quality health care is provided to all citizens across the 10 administrative regions based on the sound values of equity, solidarity and quality health services as a human right.
A total of approximately $13.3 billion dollars was allotted to this initiative of which 11.9 billion is going to current expenditure.
Through this programme, Government intends to empower the regions, through training and increased human resources so that the Public Health Ministry can be successful in its plan to decentralize the regional system.
A standard complement of staff for each region is being put in place to avoid the multitasking of the few existing staff, who in the past, have been called upon to function in disciplines outside of their mandate.
Also functioning due to valuable investment is, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the West Demerara Regional Hospital with six brand new incubators, the fifth such unit now functioning in the country.
Also, the spacious, air conditioned postnatal ward , which can accommodate as much as 15 beds surrounding this unit has now been made to function.
With regard to disability and rehabilitation services, Government has devised a programme which in the 2016 budget, attracted an appropriation of $347 million dollars. Out of the capital expenditure of $26.6 million dollars, $9 million would be used for the purchase of a 30 seater minibus and $11.5 million for medical equipment including an ultrasound machine and a short wave diathermy. Another $5.7 million was earmarked for equipment which includes $4 million for a generator set for the Cheshire Home.
Significantly, the Government is also making commendable moves in trying to utilize PAHO/WHO support to implement the WHO global disability action plan 2014-2021 which involves training for teachers and healthcare providers on eye and ear care screening techniques.
The Ministry of Public Health is also in the process of moving apace with the establishment of a training school for children, adolescents and young adults with special educational needs associated with disabilities. This is with the cooperation and technical assistance agreement among CARICOM, Cuba and the Government of Guyana. This agreement will pave the way for the establishment of the training center at a cost of $30 million dollars.
With regard to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, Government has a number of initiatives planned for this year that are guaranteed to ensure that the health facility provides the best possible medical, nursing and other appropriate care in an efficient and effective manner to all persons.
In fact $7.8 billion dollars was allocated to the GPHC as total expenditure. From $7.3 billion which is allocated at current expenditure, $3 billion dollars was for materials, equipment, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies and other consumables.
$88.7 million dollars was allotted to the completion of the extension of the maternity building from the 360 million dollars allotted for capital projects and $7.5 million dollars as completion of the operating theatre and ICU.
As retention projects, monies were allotted for the expansion of the renal center (the government currently spends approximately $11 million annually for dialysis and this will serve greatly to reduce that amount).
For new projects, from a sum of $60 million dollars, $30 million was appropriated for the construction of a facility to house the CT scan and $15 million for the construction of a day care center. Another $15 million dollars is also allotted for the construction of a canteen.
$298 million is earmarked for the purchasing of medical equipment including $160 million for a 64 inch slide CT scan (this is in order to save the approximately $60 million dollars per year that the GPHC spends as a subsidized cost on CT scans), $20 million for an operating table, $15 million dollars for an anaesthetic machine, $21 million dollars for invasive and non-invasive ventilators and approximately $36 million dollars for neurosurgical equipment