‘Hope has returned, citizens are excited about the future’ − Min Anthony

Guyana stands out as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, a commendable achievement made possible through the prudent stewardship of the PPP/C Government.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony expressed this sentiment as he defended the $781.9 billion 2023 budget in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony

The minister reminded that the administration has been commended by many international institutions for the interventions and advancements made in energy, food security, and job creation, to name a few. These interventions sought to improve lives and restore the dignity of Guyanese.

“Budget 2023 is $781.9 billion worth of development for the people of Guyana. Hope has returned to Guyana, and our citizens are excited about the future of Guyana.

“We want a Guyana where everyone will work together to transform the country and where all of us can share and enjoy prosperity,” the minister said.

Minister Anthony pointed out that the opposition is desperately trying to hold back progress with its false narratives, guided by a desire to sow doubts of fear and derail the development agenda.

He recalled that some 7,000 sugar workers were fired under the APNU+AFC government, plunging those persons into economic despair. The PPP/C Government has made tireless attempts to return dignity and improve livelihoods by resuscitating the sugar industry.

Minister Anthony said the government will continue to ensure that Amerindians are not left out of the country’s development agenda, noting that it was tis government that reinstated the CSO programme, creating employment opportunities for hundreds of Amerindians and empowering a number of communities.

The health minister made note of the many broken promises that characterised the APNU+AFC’s tenure in office, especially in the area of health.

“In 2017, they promised a mental health institute. Where is the mental health institute? Another broken promise. This is their legacy, a lot of promises, but absolutely no delivery. This, Mr Speaker, is what incompetence looks like. We will not forget this sordid past, but our task now is to fix this broken system, and transform it into a world-class healthcare system.”

In 2022, more than 250 health centres and health posts were upgraded in every region. Further, Guyana’s collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has seen the development of a comprehensive package to facilitate more than 216 interventions at health posts across the country, which includes the diagnosis and treatment of the most prevalent infectious diseases, maternal and child health services, immunisations, and diagnosis and treatment of the main chronic non-communicable diseases.

Meanwhile, just last year, some 4,500 spectacles were purchased for hinterland communities through the health ministry’s ‘snap-on’ spectacles initiative. This represents the government’s efforts to bridge the gap in the provision of health care services in hinterland communities. A team is deployed to the communities to conduct eye examinations and spectacles are provided to those who require it.

Further, Minister Anthony said that more than 500 persons were screened across the country and given hearing aids free of cost, with another 1,000 to benefit similarly from through year’s budget. To facilitate the transport of patients and staff, especially in the hinterland, the Ministry of Health distributed 31 ATVs, 14 ambulances, 24 boats and nine motorcycles.

“This is what progress looks like,” the minister emphasised.

Government, through the ministry of health has made a host of advancements in telemedicine, and budget 2023 caters for the further expansion of those ventures.

“Moving from a rudimentary to a world-class system required innovation and application of technology. With this in mind, the Government of Guyana has started a remote e-medicine clinic at Nappi, Parikawaranau, Yupukari and Gunns. Each of these sites has a computer, with internet-enabled devices, powered by solar energy and connected to the internet using satellite technology. Already, Mr Speaker, we see a transformation of primary healthcare.”

Telemedicine enables a patient to access help from a medical practitioner or even a nurse without having to travel to the hospital or clinic in their sick state.

Additionally, under the SMART Hospitals programme, financed by the United Kingdom, the Lethem and Mabaruma surgical theatres have received face-lifts and are now fully operational −another example of a promise delivered by the PPP/C government, creating a legacy of reliability and transformational development.

Moreover, the minister reminded of the massive salary increase for healthcare workers, announced by His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali in December 2022, to ensure that Guyana’s health sector is able to attract and retain talented young professionals.

The health minister said, “This budget has something for everyone. In the health sector, it will allow us to fix what was broken, and give us all the necessary resources to move to the next level.”

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