Budget allocation, targeted approach to revamp health sector -MP Smith

Member of Parliament, Dr. Tandika Smith, says she expects the health sector to be transformed significantly with the $51.7 billion identified for it in the 2020 Budget.

The Government MP was making her contribution to the 2020 Budget debate on Wednesday.

Dr. Smith said the PPP/C Administration would address health care services and challenges in a more targeted manner.

She added that the allocation would be used to revamp the primary health care system, modernise the sector, and maximise its human resources. Dr. Smith said the Government has started on the right foot by providing risk allowances for frontline healthcare workers. 

Dr. Smith, who worked at the West Demerara Regional Hospital under the previous administration, said her tenure was “equivalent to working in the frontlines of a warzone.” Health services for patients with chronic diseases, obstetrics and gynaecology, family planning, surgical cases, among others, were seriously affected.

“Our expectant mothers in the OB/GYN department have seen dark days, especially those high-risk patients, gestational diabetes and hypertension… Basic materials such as saline, gauze just to name a few, were also found to be [out of stock] in our drug bonds on many occasions,” she said. Family planning devices such as intrauterine devices, birth control implants, and oral contraceptives, among others, were also difficult to access.

Dr. Smith added that the main operating theatre at the West Demerara Regional Hospital was not continuously operational, which resulted in several emergency surgeries being referred.

“The main operating theatre which is occupied by a faulty anaesthetic machine was never fixed or replaced by a new one and only provided services for a mere six months for the past five years,” Dr. Smith said. 

She also asserted that the previous administration abandoned other critical services, such as x-ray and ultrasound [ultrasonography] services.

“It is totally absurd and unfair to our people to have them reach into their pockets to pay for services that are already covered by their taxes,” MP Smith said.

However, Dr. Smith reiterated that she has every confidence that with the proposed budget measures and plans for the sector, “like a phoenix, our health sector will rise from the ashes.”

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