Gov’t committed to enhancing health surveillance system

In an effort to foster an improved healthcare system, the Health Ministry in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and the Pan-American Health Organisation on Tuesday held day one of the National Health Surveillance Symposium.

In delivering opening remarks, Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony stressed the need to further improve Guyana’s health surveillance system, developing a more concise and accurate data compilation process.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony

He disclosed that the ministry has been working closely with Regional Executive Officers to monitor and formulate a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We would look at the data over the past 24 hours… analysing the data and then come up with a plan of how we would respond. By doing that in a very proactive way, I think we were able to, very early, see emerging trends across the region and then respond appropriately,” he said.

The minister emphasised that there is room for improvement in the timeliness and reach of the current surveillance system, adding that the various partnerships the health ministry has entered into will facilitate these advancements.

The heath minister said too that these partnerships help to keep Guyana involved in global healthcare discussions. He reiterated that through these international collaborations, Guyana is better prepared for future pandemics.

He highlighted the data compilation aspect of health surveillance, noting that the ministry is currently looking to implement systems to foster more detailed and holistic structures of data compilation.

“While our systems generally were built around infectious diseases, the range of things that we now have to look at include chronic non-communicable diseases and to get a better understanding of these diseases, we have to put a stronger surveillance system in place. We don’t have a very strong and robust system of collecting information and aggregating it so that we know exactly how many people we are treating, and that is what we have to change.

“We often talk about improving health systems. For example, when people come to our outpatient clinics, and they have to wait for four hours, or three hours to see a doctor. Are we collecting this information in a systematic way, and are we using this information to try to reduce waiting time? These are parameters that we have to look at in terms of our healthcare system. We need to offer more efficient service, and we need to develop indicators to be able to monitor this,” the health minister noted.

A section of the gathering at the National Health Surveillance Symposium

Meanwhile, PAHO Country Representative to Guyana, Dr. Luis Codina, stressed the need to expand the reach of health services countrywide to permanently monitor trends and devise solutions.

He noted that PAHO is working along with the health ministry to improve emergency response and facilitate adjustments to Guyana’s health sector.

“We are here not only to dream and plan, but to work with you to achieve our vision to strengthen health surveillance systems in Guyana,” he said.