Min. Cummings defends 2018 health budget

DPI, Guyana, Monday, December 4, 2017

Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings today defended the $33.3 billion which has been allocated to the sector, during the Budget 2018 debates in the National Assembly today.

Minister Cummings noted that this will “surely result in striking improvements in outcomes and efficiency, as well as further enhancement of patient experiences at all public health facilities.”

Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings.

The minister said that the incoming year’s budget is consistent with the government’s plan to continually advance the well-being of all Guyanese, and will be facilitated through transformative programmes which are aimed at establishing and maintaining sustainable development.

The introduction of tele-medicine programmes within all administrative regions will soon be realised in 2018.  According to Minister Cummings, the initiative is indicative of the administration’s embrace of modernity in the public healthcare system. “The introduction and use of the various components of Guyana Health Information Systems will realise significant improvement in the spread of health care services that we provide for all Guyanese,” Minister Cummings said.

Medical supplies and drug management will be brought under control after a number of interventions have been sought by the Public Health Ministry. This issue regarding the procurement of these items has been a long-standing issue and several changes had to be made.

Minister Cummings said “much work still has to be done. More changes still have to be made… Strategic efforts are being made to effectively establish a last mile distribution system that will see commodities being delivered in a timely manner.”

The Minister further added that combatting Non-Communicable diseases in Guyana continues to demand 70 percent of the Public Health’s budget. She zeroed in on the fact that Breast Cancer, one of the leading causes of death in Guyana, has received much focus in 2017 and the Ministry of Public Health will expand this priority area in 2018.

“Another mammography machine will be purchased in 2018 so that more of our women can be screened for breast cancer.  Consequently, they can commence treatment as soon as possible after the results are arrived at. Mr. Speaker women who cannot afford the prohibitive costs for cancer screening at private institutions are already benefiting from the one mammography machine available at the Georgetown Public Hospital.” Minister Cummings indicated.

Meanwhile, a brand new viral load machine has been procured and will be acquired in 2018. This, the minister said, will go hand in hand with a ‘Treat All’ programme in keeping with the UNAIDS fast track strategy of ending AIDS by 2030.

Among other projects that will continue in 2018, work is ongoing to enhance the capacity of healthcare workers in managing high-risk pregnancies so as to enhance the survival rate of mother and child. In addition, obstetric and neonatal emergencies are being addressed so as to reduce infant and maternal mortality and morbidity.

“A major undertaking that we would like to embark on in 2018 as it relates to MCH is the development and implementation of electronic vaccination records. The electronic management of patient data will be extremely beneficial in ensuring that every child is fully catered for in the vaccination process,” Minister Cummings added.

With regards to mental health, in 2018 the Ministry of Public Health will intensify activities in this vital area to further support the key efforts of the Ministry’s drive to address the issues. The Mental Health Institute located in Quamina Street will be completed and commissioned in 2018 as well.

Finally, the minister placed emphasis on the fact that the construction of the Ministry’s modern state-of-the-art headquarters will commence in 2018. Meanwhile, rehabilitative work will be conducted on a number of health facilities across the country to enhance aesthetics and also to ensure they are “structurally sound and fit for purpose”.

With this year’s budgetary allocation, the public health sector will be in a better position to bridge the gap, where the potential for delivering efficient and effective public health care meets the opportunity to realise tangible health gains within society.


By: Delicia Haynes


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