Point of Care system to be COVID-19 gamechanger for Guyana

-1200 cartridges secured through PAHO partnership

-regional hospitals to receive training for ventilator usage

Guyana is expected to see improved and advanced COVID-19 testing measures, as the country aims for a more rapid delivery of results.

On Thursday, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony stated that the country’s gene testing machines are currently being retooled to use as point of care machines for COVID-19 testing.

“In the country we have about four gene expert machines and these can be used as point of care machines and we are right now repurposing those machines. We will be getting in the special COVID-19 cartridges to use on those machines,” Dr. Anthony stated.

According to the Health Minister, the point of care machines will not only allow immediacy, but in turn allow better patient care and stamp out the need for having to first go through a secondary laboratory.

“By doing these things it will help to give our clinicians and out frontline health workers the tools that they need to be able to make proper diagnosis, accurate diagnosis and to ultimately help to treat that patient and make sure that they are well taken care of,” the Health Minister stated.

He continued, “once we have them, we don’t need all the big infrastructure in the lab to do all the testing. We can do it almost at the point where we’re seeing the patient…and we’ll be able to get the result within the hour.”

The Health Minister stated that the main constraint from moving forward into this direction has been acquiring the necessary cartridges. However, a partnership with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) will help to dissolve the barrier.

“With the help of the Pan American Health Organization we will be receiving 1,200 or so cartridges to start and then at least every month we’re expecting to get about 525 cartridges per month. We’re also exploring some other options in getting cartridges because we feel like this will help us in make quick diagnosis for people and improve the kind of care that we’re offering. This point of care is going to be a gamechanger for us once we put it into operation.”

Moreover, the Ministry of Health is also looking to decentralize the caring of critically ill patients at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), by training officials from regional hospitals in the usage of ventilators, Bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machines and/or Continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP) machines.

Doctors will complete a theoretical course online and upon successful completion, they will be invited to GPHC to begin the practical component.

Two doctors per regional hospital will undergo the training, which is expected to commence sometime next week.

In the meantime, health officials have already conducted assessments to gain an understanding of the needs of the regional hospitals such as ventilators and critical care beds equipped with all the necessary apparatus.

“Our intention is that in a very short period time that every single regional hospital would be able to take care of critically ill patients. That will of course reduce the amount of patient flow at the Georgetown Hospital and we’ll have that capacity at every regional hospital, which I think is a good thing to have.”

Works are also underway to expediently fix deficiencies at the Liliendaal facility. Funds from the $51.7B allotted to the health sector in the budget will be used in rectifying the issues and “operationalizing the hospital in a bigger way” according to the Minister.