First draft of transplant legislation almost complete- Health Minister

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While Guyana has been making strides in organ transplantation, the absence of proper legislation is one major brick wall that prevents the country from being recognised on the international scene.

But this will soon be a thing of the past as the government has already commenced work on the first draft of that legislation.

Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony made the disclosure on Monday as the Georgetown Public Hospital’s Kidney Transplant team led by Dr. Kishore Persaud celebrated the successful completion of the first-ever international transplant.

“One of the things that we also want to do to ensure that we are able to continue transplant, not just here in Guyana, but for it to be recognised internationally, is to make sure that we have the right pieces of legislation in place,” the Health Minister stated.

And strides are already being made in this regard. According to him, a multi-sectoral team had already begun work crafting the legislation.

He disclosed that the first draft is somewhat completed however, comments and recommendations received by the team are still being added.

“We have been lucky enough to reach out to the Assistant Dean of the Harvard Law School, who was also provided us with comments on the legislation.

“We are in the process right now, infusing those comments on the first draft, so as to strengthen the legislation that has been developed and as soon as we have that circulated to make sure that everyone is on board, shortly thereafter, you see us walk through the process to make it into law,” the Health Minister disclosed.

The legislation will not only cater for transplantation alone, Dr. Anthony explained, but also bio-banking, a new area of medicine that the country aims to develop the capacity for.

A bio-bank is a type of biorepository that stores biological samples for use in research and had become an important resource in medical research, supporting many types of contemporary research like genomics and personalized medicine.

The Health Minister reported that the government hopes to get the legislation approved and quickly implemented.

In the meantime, the Kidney Transplant Department at the Hospital will continue with its diligent work.

The Guyana Medical Council, along with Dr. Kishore Persaud and his team, had met with the Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, back in January regarding this legislation.

A subsequent statement from the Attorney-General’s Chambers noted that there is no legislation governing, authorising, and regulating the donation of tissue and organs to persons who meet the criteria of either being a donor or recipient of such donation.

As such, in order to protect citizens from being victims of trafficking in human organs and tissue, proposals will be made for the legislation to prohibit this; the legislation will also create offences and penalties to monitor such grim incidents.

The statement noted that a consultative approach has been agreed upon, which will include consultative engagements involving all stakeholders and associations and their collective input will be channelled into the legislation and ensuing regulations.

Dr. Persaud has been lobbying for years for such legislation, which will also save lives. The public hospital has the capability and equipment for such operations, but there is no legislation to govern it.

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