Health minister challenges RHOs to improve service in Regions

GINA, GUYANA, Friday, September 30, 2016

The Ministry of Public Health’s Regional Health Officers and Programme Heads meeting was brought to a close on Thursday afternoon.

The meeting was held over the past week under the theme, “collaboratively we build a resilient health care system that is acceptable, accessible, timely, and appropriate to meet the needs of every person in Guyana.

Group photograph at the closing ceremony of the Second Regional Health Officers (RHO) Programme Head Meeting for 2016.

Group photograph at the closing ceremony of the Second Regional Health Officers (RHO) Programme Head Meeting for 2016.

The theme served as a guide for regional heads to pursue a more united approach towards ensuring that their region’s health sector is the best quality.

In closing remarks, Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings highlighted a number of areas that have been given attention and some which will be focused on for further development.

One area is, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) where the Ministry of Public Health will provide necessary data to target at risk populations since Guyana has the second largest population in the Caribbean with Chronic Diseases. This will be addressed through the implementation of a National Non Communicable Disease Task Force.

On the issue of Zika, Minister Cummings said that the virus is still affecting the population. “The data at this point in time shows a total of 37 positive cases that we have confirmed of which 26 cases are from Region Four. They have also been three confirmed cases of Zik related to microcephaly in Guyana” Dr. Cummings reported. She said the ministry has developed an action plan for Zika in pregnancy.

The minister further noted that in three weeks there will be testing for Zika in Guyana which will put an end to the initial sending of test samples to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) which has proven to be a lengthy process. The minister urged health officers to gather information based on the protocols involved in the management of Zika.

On the issue of drugs shortages, Minister Cummings told Regional Health Officers that if Combined Received and Issued Vouchers (CRIVS) and other requisitioning documents are completed promptly, drug shortages can be avoided countrywide.,

“The availability of drugs at our health facilities continues to be a challenge and we have heard that financial expenditure, wastage and irrational use and appropriate reporting via the Combined Received and Issued Vouchers (CRIV) are some of the major factors that impact the availability of drugs. I charge you to complete the CRIVS and the consumption report in a timely manner to avoid unnecessary delays in the timely delivery of drugs,” the minister said.

Noting that  Guyana ranks number one in suicide rates on the global scale, the minister pointed out that the ministry of Public Health, with direct orders from President Granger, has established the mental health unit. The Unit utilises the mental health action plan 2015-2020 and the suicide prevention plan 2015 – 2020 as a guide to address this issue.

RHO’s were encouraged to have their staff at Community Health Centres and hospitals exposing to mental health care training which will contribute to over efficient health care in the region.

Currently the delivery of health care services is governed by the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Communities. Minister Cummings said that the establishment of Regional Health Authorities could give the Ministry  of Public Health full responsibility for the monitoring of Human Resources.

With the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 clearly in sight, the RHOs and the ministry  will be working to ensure  Guyana achieve those goals that are directly related to health in the country.

Minister Cummings pointed out that, “Goal number three, in particular, stipulates good health and wellbeing, ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all at all ages. This goal is directly related to all other goals. Goal number six aims at achieving clean water and sanitation which will aid in preventing diseases through safe water and sanitation for all with the achievement of this goal the devastating effects of disease like diarrhea that claim the lives of so many other children under five will be significantly reduced.”

The Regional Health Officers (RHO) and Programme Heads meeting is usually held on a quarterly basis. The aim is to highlight and address issues plaguing the health sector  so as to improve the delivery of health services in the various regions.

By Delicia Haynes