Gov’t, Opposition Parliamentarians laud health sector enhancements in Reg. 6
The Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services led by its chairman, former Minister of Health Dr. Karen Cummings on Wednesday lauded massive improvements in the health sector across Region Six (East Berbice – Corentyne).
It came during a visit to the region by Dr. Cummings and other Committee members including its Vice Chairman and Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr. Vindhya Persaud and Director General at the Ministry of Health Dr Vishwa Mahadeo.
Visits were made to the Port Mourant Hospital, National Ophthalmology Hospital, New Amsterdam Hospital, and the National Psychiatric Hospital. The purpose of the visit was to interact with staff and patients and assess the institution’s facilities.
Tours were given throughout each of the institutions with issues such as long waiting periods for patients and inadequate staffing being raised. However, at the conclusion of the visit, measures were already being put in place to address them.
According to Dr Cummings, “It has been an eye-opener, of course, we have seen some changes but of course, there are certain gaps and we have identified certain gaps but of course, mainly it’s our human resources and of course, we recognise some shortages in some of the areas…”
The Chairman said that the mandate as policymakers is to build resilient health systems and strengthen human resources among other things.
She mentioned that during their visit to the National Psychiatric Hospital, there was a shortage of staff as compared to the number of patients at the institution (206 patients), there were overflowing septic tanks and issues with drainage but according to her “these are low hanging fruits” and can be addressed with the necessary interventions.
Dr. Cummings, however, praised the Port Mourant Health Centre and opined that “many other health centers should take patterns from there.”
She pointed out that there was community participation with the health care workers of that facility and noted that it would be interesting to know the morbidity in terms of diseases in that particular area “because they have such a good relationship with the community.”
Cummings also highlighted that the Ophthalmology Hospital situated within the compound of the Port Mourant Hospital “is up and running” and while there are Cuban Doctors working in that facility, she hopes that there will be more Guyanese doctors involved and working there as well.
What was also mentioned by her is that under the previous government in which she served as Minister of Health, there were difficulties in the procurement of scalpels and other medical instruments but said that “for some reason now they are able to have access to these scalpels and these instruments.”
Meanwhile, Dr Persaud has also dubbed the visit as an “enlightening” one and noted that when she visited during her time as Chairman of the Committee under the previous administration, there were many issues raised and highlighted.
She said she was particularly impressed when she learned that CT scans were being done at the New Amsterdam Hospital at no cost to patients. The scanning equipment which was bought in 2014 was never installed and put into operation until 2020, leaving a gap of 5 years without the service that has cost patients in Berbice thousands of dollars to access elsewhere.
“This is extremely good because this wasn’t a service that was available here and in the short time, they have managed to do that.” Minister Persaud said.
She also hailed the services of the National Ophthalmology Hospital after being informed that patients are transported from various regions throughout the country to do surgeries at the institution and once completed, they are transported back to their respective regions.
“I think that is forward-thinking, it’s also showing the kind of services that are able to be provided through the Ministry of Health system and what is nice to see is that a lot of persons providing the services at many of the levels are young Guyanese doctors,” she posited.
Minister Persaud also noted that there is room for improvements but given the current advancements to the health systems and the plans that are currently being put in place to further improve it, she is certain that health in region six will improve at a fast pace.
Accompanying the team on the visits were Member of Parliament for the opposition Dineshwar Jaipersaud, Dawn Hastings along with Thandeka Smith, Dr Vishalya Sharma and Dr Bheri Ramsarran among others.