Guyana to focus on shortcomings in data collection for diseases, outbreaks

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Guyana’s Health Ministry will be collaborating with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to boost local efforts at data collection and monitoring diseases.

This will be done through an upcoming National Health Surveillance Symposium, which will be held from November 22 to 25, 2023.

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony, during his daily COVID-19 update on Monday, said the objective of the symposium is to get an overview of the current data collecting system and decide what improvements may be needed.

“What we are going to meet to discuss is whether the current system that we have in place is able to collect data we need to do disease management especially in the area of infectious diseases and whether the system is flexible enough to be able to detect in a timely manner the outbreaks of diseases,” Dr Anthony said.

Notably, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry was able to very carefully monitor the diseases but Dr Anthony noted that the other infectious diseases cannot be ignored.

Importantly, the Minister said the types of cancers that Guyanese are fighting will be a major part of the discussions. He explained that a surveillance system will be built to collect data on the types of cancers, the number of patients and their health care treatment and options.

There will also be much focus on chronic non-communicable diseases. It is no secret that many Guyanese suffer with hypertension, heart disease and diabetes among other non-communicable diseases.

“Surveillance in the area of chronic non-communicable diseases. We do collect data but sometimes it’s not properly aggregated so they are going to examine that to see how we can improve the systems to make sure that we have timely data and accurate data in with these disease entities,” the Health Minister said.

There is an existing surveillance system by the Health Ministry that starts from health post and data is fed up to the health system. However, the minister has reminded that many persons do not seek medical assistance regularly. As such much of the patients are not registered and data is not collected.

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