$84.9 billion approved to modernise health sector
– Intensive training programmes for medical personnel, upgrades to labs on the agenda
The health sector is set to see major improvements as $84.9 billion was approved in the Committee of Supply of the National Assembly on the final day of the consideration of the Estimates and Financials for 2023.
In defending the sums under the various line items, Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony answered every question posed on the eight programmes under both capital and current financial estimates.
He was primarily questioned by Opposition member and shadow Minister of Health, Dr. Karen Cummings.
Dr Anthony said this year, the health ministry will continue working to strengthen the healthcare system in Guyana. He said the ministry has therefore planned training for general staff.
“We want to, every year, offer x amount of CME’s to doctors especially those who are serving in the interior of Guyana. We have set aside monies for training of the health information department in the use of certain software. We have also set aside monies for training of employees in the Human Resource Department,” the health minister said.
Monies have been set aside for training of nurses and midwives under the Chief Nursing Officer’s office since it is now required that registered nurses have continuing nursing education.
The minister noted that while there is a deficit in some areas of staffing, the ministry will recruit and train people in the different parts of Guyana to work in specific areas.
Doctors, he said, will receive various types of specialised training.
With regards to leprosy, Guyana has been, according to WHO standards eliminated leprosy, however, there still exists some cases and the ministry is focusing to have this totally eliminated by 2025.
The health minister advised that the Palms Geriatric Unit will receive an upgrade to help fight this disease.
“Under this budget, we are actually investing a lot of money to upgrade the services that we provide there. We have included a special laboratory and other equipment so that we can make more efficient diagnosis,” minister Anthony said.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 still remains a challenge and the ministry will also continue its work with regards to this pandemic.
“HEOC remains functional because we still do have cases of Covid. As of today, we had 15 persons over the last 24 hours. 15 persons or so who tested positive out of 255 tests that were done. We have 133 people with active Covid and we have 12 persons in the hospital,” the health minister related.
Additionally, laboratory capacity at the National Public Health Reference Laboratory will also be given a boost.
With help from Harvard University, the lab has grown in its sequencing of plasmodium falciparum capacity and the ministry is looking to expand on that.
“We want to extend that and we have spoken to the Harvard to be able to have the reagents to repurpose it so we could do the sequence for variants. So that’s something that we are working on and our staff at the reference lab have been trained. They went up to Harvard they spent six weeks there. They got good training in terms of how to do sequencing. So, we have capacity,” Dr Anthony asserted.
A loan from the World Bank will also help to upgrade local laboratories.
“This year, we intend to procure equipment and reagents for our laboratories so that we can strengthen what we are doing at GPHC and the National Public Health Reference lab and at all the regional reference labs. We will be adding equipment. We will also be doing work with our cold chain, so refrigerators and other things that they need they will be getting it through this programme,’ Dr Anthony said.
Health Facilities in various parts of the country will also benefit from new medical equipment.