Govt mulls partnership with Brazil’s health sector – to aid communities on the border

DPI, Guyana, Monday, January 15, 2018

Travelling to the capital city of Georgetown in times of emergency can be somewhat infuriating for some residents of indigenous communities, as such, the Ministry of Public Health is considering partnering with neighbouring Brazil, to have Guyanese seek out medical care there instead.

Implementation of this possible plan should not face too many challenges since residents of those communities already utilise the health services of the Portuguese Speaking nation.

Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence.

It takes residents of Region Eight just about four hours of travel to access the closest hospital in Brazil, in the town of Uiramuta. In cases where the hospital there cannot handle those cases, patients are referred to the hospital in Boa Vista.

Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence said this arrangement could ease the painstaking efforts to get patients to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). She put the idea to the residents of Paramakatoi, Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), during a meeting at one of the primary schools there on Sunday.

The Minister is scheduled to meet with her Brazilian counterpart later this week and will raise the proposal.

The issue of transportation and medical service was brought to the fore during the minister’s outreach to the village. After hearing the plight of a young mother, who was unable to bear the cost of flying her sick child to the city for medical checkups, and similar cries by residents, Minister Lawrence made the suggestion.

“Sometimes we have to look at economies of scale, we have to look at time and we have to look at some of those issues that you brought up of persons who will accompany the person who is ill,” she said.

According to Minister Lawrence, each year money is usually allocated for the medical evacuation of persons, however, in many instances, before the end of the quarter, the budget is exhausted. It is clear, she said, that the needs of the various communities utilising this service outstrip what is available.

Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence embraces a young mother of Paramakatoi, who made a passionate plea for better transportation especially for persons who need emergency care.

“That is why I’m asking about Brazil because sometimes we have to think outside the box. And if it means us entering into an agreement with the Brazilian government to ensure that instead of us medevacking over the mountain, that certain patients we can send to Brazil that will help all of us.” She billed this idea as the best possible solution.

Meanwhile, in response to calls for a district hospital, Minister Lawrence said it is something that government will have to work towards. She said that is the ideal since many other services could be offered there to ease the high incidences of medivacking, while at the same time, providing employment.

In the meantime, the Minister said the government will work to further upgrade the Mahdia hospital, where residents of Paramakatoi also go to receive emergency treatment. According to Minister Lawrence, the Mahdia hospital has trained doctors and facilities that should meet the needs of patients.

The Health Minister said she will also speak to her counterpart in Brazil regarding whether the services could be extended in Brazil, as well as assistance to construct the district hospital.


By: Alexis Rodney


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