The Ministry of Health continues to spend substantial money in renting buildings to accommodate health workers brought to work in Guyana and this year, an additional $60 million has been set aside to rent additional buildings to accommodate more Cubans.
This was revealed during the consideration of the budget estimates on Friday when Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony was questioned by Opposition Parliamentarians Dr. Karen Cummings and Volda Lawrence.
The rental of buildings, under the ministry’s programme for regional and clinical services, totals $99.8 million this year. Last year, $56. 1 million was allocated.
So Dr. Cummings asked for this year’s allocation to be disaggregated.
The Health Minister revealed that the sum includes $23 million to house Cuban and Chinese doctors at several buildings in Georgetown and Linden.
Lawrence, a former Minister of Health, pressed Dr. Anthony on the allocation. She specifically asked if new buildings will be rented this year.
Dr. Anthony answered in the affirmative.
“Apart from those that we have already, we have set aside another $60 million or so because we are expanding the Cuban brigade.
“We expect, in the first quarter of this year, to have more Cuban doctors and nurses and other technicians coming into Guyana… so we have set aside a sum of money to rent additional buildings for them when they come,” he said.
Guyana is grappling with a shortage of nurses in particular and as the government trains more persons to meet medium and long term needs, it is recruiting foreign workers in the interim.
Dr. Anthony, at his 2023 end-of-year presser, said 80 Cuban nurses were recruited last year and another 200 nurses from Cuba should be in Guyana early 2024. He also said the Health Ministry is actively trying to recruit more nurses from other countries.
This allocation for rentals is just a small part of the ministry’s $110 billion budget that was approved by the Parliamentary Committee of Supply on Friday.