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Public Health Ministry seeks World Bank funding for billion dollar scheme

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GEORGETOWN, MOPH –THE PUBLIC Health Ministry this week unveiled a G$1B (US$5M) initiative which the World Bank will fund if the project can attract Cabinet’s blessing. Senior Minister Volda Lawrence and Minister within the MOPH, Dr Karen Cummings are expected to share the details with their colleagues Tuesday when Cabinet meets.

“We hope that health is a priority in the next four years” for the Guyanese government, Mr David Dulitzky, Practice Manager, Health, Nutrition and Population Global Practice of the World Bank said when a team of officials met local health officials at the MOPH Secretariat on Brickdam Friday.

Dulitzky explained that the Bank meets quadrennially to consider funding public health projects of the nature presented by the MOPH officials, headed by Dr Cummings.

The team was also scheduled to meet with Finance Ministry officials on Friday.

Speaking for his other colleagues, Neesha Harnam, Health Specialist, Health, Nutrition and Population and Carmen Carpio, Senior Operations Officer, Dulitzky said: “we hope the Ministry of Finance finds these agreed programme of work, attractive.”

The Public Health Ministry projects include developing its entomological services; using ultrasound techniques to identify foetuses with microcephaly; strengthening the capacity of communities nationwide to control breeding sites of vectors in their areas using innovative techniques.

On the issue of insect study, Dr Horace Cox, MOPH Director of Vector Control Services, noted that the Ministry wants to “upgrade an existing biologist to an entomologist”.

Cox anticipates that a resurgent and expanded entomological unit will need two Medical Epidemiologists; 14 Surveillance Officers; 14 Epidemiology Nurses, and 50 assistants spread throughout the 10 Regions of the country.

Also, he anticipates a legal framework review to assess the authority of Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) “to require households to address unsanitary conditions” of their environments.

The financial support from the World Bank will also be used to training health and social workers to provide psychosocial support for families with the risk of Zika abnormalities to their new-born, Cox said.

He said part of the funding will also be utilised to help devise long-term programmes for extended care needed by children born with microcephaly.

The funding from the World Bank is also critical because “exposure to vector-borne diseases has an economic cost,” Dulitzky reminded the meeting emphasising that the World Bank is very concerned about the ability of countries’ preparedness to “manage health emergencies”.

Cox in his presentation pushed for construction of an entomology lab outfitted with all the necessary paraphernalia including laboratory and field equipment, vehicles and machines for the job.

Dr Troy Sagon who is attached to the Chronic Diseases Unit, also added that the MOPH wants the capacity to test for diabetes, cholesterol, thyroid and then various forms of cancer.

When she spoke, Dr Karen Cummings told the World Bank that the country is determined to narrow the gap in medical services and standards between the country’s heavily-populated coastal areas affected by Aedes-borne diseases and its sprawling hinterland communities affected by malaria.

Currently, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) swallow up some 70 per cent of the MOPH annual fiscal estimates, Cummings reminded

When the Bank’s representatives queried about the status of Yellow Fever (YF) here, Cox said: “there is no case of Yellow Fever in Guyana”.

The country has achieved some 95 percent vaccination coverage in the country, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Shamdeo Persaud confirmed.

“I am hopeful that the key programmes get the World Bank’s financial support,” Dr. Persaud said.

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