Some 20 Venezuelan children who were found sick and malnourished at Anabisi, Port Kaituma in the North West District of Region One (Barima- Waini) received immediate medical attention on Saturday. This is part of a string of relief efforts being provided to vulnerable indigenous migrants who have settled in the community.
According to a report from the Office of the Prime Minister, dozens of Amerindians- including children- may have entered Guyanese territory from a neighbouring village in Venezuela in poor health and without food. They have settled in Anabisi, which is located some 10 minutes away from Port Kaituma.
On Saturday, responding to reports of the dire circumstances the people are facing, a team, including several government ministers, went into the community to provide medical care and assess their needs.
Pediatrician at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) Dr. Neil Samwaroo said that the medical team found about 50 children at the settlement and they were able to attend to 20 children on Saturday. These children were among those who were the sickest.
Dr. Samwaroo said that many of the children had impetigo (a bacterial infection on the skin), conjunctivitis (commonly called ‘red eye’) and mild diarrheal diseases.
“There were no severe cases that warranted emergency or immediate attention,” Dr. Samwaroo said however.
He added that four patients who needed further attention were transferred to the Port Kaituma hospital.
Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony, who went to Anabisi on Saturday, explained that these diseases may be as a result of the poor hygienic conditions the people are living in. For context, the indigenous people have settled near a river in Region One and rely on this as a source of drinking water.
Though the team did not discover anyone – adult or child- who was severely malnourished (starved) as reported in other sections of the media, Dr. Anthony did state that a medical team would return on Sunday to continue assessing the people.
Importantly, Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr. Vindhya Persaud also said that wider relief will be continuously provided to the community.
“What is clear though is that the people who were there, the conditions they were under, we will continuously be assessing and intervening with more hampers going in to ensure that they are cared for and catered for,” she said at a press briefing at the Ogle Airport on Saturday night.
Subsequently, while speaking to the News Room, Dr. Persaud explained that the authorities responded as soon as they were apprised of the situation. In doing so, hampers and medical supplies- which have been identified as the immediate or priority needs- were provided.
The minister, however, highlighted that further discussions are ongoing about what other avenues of support could be provided to this vulnerable group of people. This could potentially include resettlement and/or providing some sort of employment.
In the interim, though, Dr. Persaud emphasised that a constant and sustained supply of food and medical attention is needed to help the migrants.