Graduates of Clinical Management of HIV programme urged to work to edify HIV patients on the importance of Covid vaccines
Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, MP, has challenged the graduates of the Clinical Management of HIV programme, to partner with the Government to encourage persons living with HIV to be inoculated against COVID-19.
Minister Anthony made this call during his address at the graduation ceremony, Friday at Duke Lodge.
Dr. Anthony said there are a number of persons living with HIV, who are eligible to take a COVID-19 jab, but there is a high level of hesitancy.
“Unfortunately, there is some kind of myth that permeates the community of HIV positive patients. Somehow, they believe that they should not take the vaccine and that has continued. So, I think there has been very very low uptake with this cohort of patients and in my mind and in all of the literature that I have seen, they are at risk,” Dr. Anthony said.
Minister Anthony noted that the graduates should focus on how they are going to convince persons living with HIV that taking the COVID-19 vaccine is important to staying alive during the pandemic.
He stated that there has been a recorded case of an individual with HIV dying from COVID-19; that person was unvaccinated.
The health minister said the graduates must use the knowledge acquired to improve the management of HIV in Guyana.
One of the graduates, Dr. Malika Mootoo who is attached to the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital said she has already started utilising the new approach and is seeing positive results.
“We have tried to incorporate that in our patient care and we have certainly seen a better outcome just in these few months from April to now, we’ve been trying it and we’ve seen a really good outcome,” Dr. Mootoo related.
Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary-General, Directorate of Human and Social Development, CARICOM Secretariat, Dr. Douglas Slater is pleased that the programme was well executed amid the pandemic.
“Pandemic cannot and must not stop the progress if you take full advantage of the many opportunities to enhancing public health capacity, building on the virtual platform. And that is one of the things, we have lost a lot from Covid but it has made us more efficient in someways…We must not lose opportunities in challenges, exploit them for what you can and this is one way we have been able to do so,” Dr. Slater noted.
The programme, which commenced in April and concluded in June, was executed through a collaboration between the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) and USAID.
United States Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch was also in attendance.