$31.2B allocated to improve health sector

GINA, Guyana, Monday, November 28, 2016

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan today, presented the 2017 National Budget valued $ 250M, with $31.2B allocated for the further development of the health sector. The allocation accounts for 12.5 percent of the budget.

The theme for the budget is ‘Building a diversified, green economy; delivering the good life to all Guyanese’.

The Ministry of Public Health, Brickdam Georgetown, Guyana

The Ministry of Public Health, Brickdam Georgetown, Guyana

“The national health sector strategy- the Health Vision 2020 – continues to guide investments and interventions in the sector, with the ultimate aim of achieving universal coverage for health care. However, we cannot hope to achieve this vision without an efficient, modern health system, with adequate human capacity and quality health infrastructure.  We must address these core issues, which hamper our ability to address serious health challenges,” the Finance Minister said.

Proposed in the sector’s budget is money for equipping district hospitals in hinterland regions with specialised staff and equipment to eliminate the need for medical evacuation (medevacs). For this year, the Public Health Ministry has expended $48.4M on 93 medical evacuations to the Georgetown Hospital Corporation (GPHC).

The upgrade of district hospitals to regional hospitals in the hinterland will help to bridge the gap in health care provided throughout Guyana.  Four basic specialists including pediatrician, internal medicine specialist, obstetrician/gynaecologist and general surgeon are to be placed at each of these hospitals.

Each of these specialists is expected to be deployed to regional hospitals in Regions One, Eight and Nine in 2017. This will lead to greater equity between the hinterland and coastland communities.

The sum of $2B is proposed for investment in infrastructural upgrades and maintenance of health facilities. This will facilitate the construction and rehabilitation of comfortable living quarters at health facilities for on-call and live in healthcare providers in areas such as Barmita, Bartica, Kamarang, Mahdia, Port Kaituma and Annai.

More than $6.5B has been allocated for the procurement of drugs and medical supplies.

Minister Jordan said, “Although we have been budgeting adequate sums of money, our population continues to experience frequent non-availability of drugs and medical supplies at almost every public health facility, suggesting a number of problems in the procurement, storage, and distribution systems. This problem will be arrested by ensuring that the process is informed by data driven health information systems in order to ensure more consistent supplies and avoidance of waste.”

Another area of focus is the upgrading of local laboratory facilities, as well as the construction of new ones. This is to ensure that there are adequate food safety mechanisms in place, as well as other aspects of health services. This is aimed at reducing the country’s dependency on overseas testing.

“Another priority area of focus is bringing our laboratory facilities up to a modern and international standard. To this end, progress is being made by the Food and Drugs Department to gain accreditation for its laboratories, which certify food product manufacturers, exporters, and re-packagers,” Minister Jordan explained.

The sum of $110M is budgeted for the Food and Drugs Department to begin construction of a new laboratory and administrative building. Further, $65 M will be used to procure laboratory supplies, quality control aids, and proficiency testing materials.

The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) component of the Ministry of Public Health is also expected to be improved through capacity building exercises and strengthening the primary level health care provided in Regions Three, Four and Nine. This will contribute to the reduction in maternal, perinatal and neonatal deaths with the implementation of an initiative to support improved maternal and child health. This will significantly be reduced through improved supply chains for contraceptive methods, drugs and blood products, strengthened maternity waiting home strategy, improved health information and training of health workers through capacity building of the MCH Unit.

“The  MDG  Acceleration  Framework  (MAF)  to  improve  maternal health identifies  five  bottlenecks  and proposes  solutions  that continue  to  guide  the interventions to address maternal health. To supplement the ongoing work of the MCH Unit, the initiative ‘Support to Improve Maternal Child Health, will come online, in the new year, with the support of a development partner,” the Minister said.

Government will also seek to train 300 health workers in 2017 to become health professionals in the fight against mental illnesses which lead to suicide. Additionally, a mental health institute is expected to be constructed starting in the second half of 2017.



By: Delicia Haynes