‘Politicised task force led to ineffective COVID-19 response’ – says Health Minister

− new committee established including international community, private sector

DPI, Guyana, Saturday, August 8, 2020

After being sworn in on Wednesday, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony has already met with several key personnel to craft a more effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Guyana.

The Health Minister noted that the ineffective response, by the former government, has led to the current situation in the country.

He was at the time being interviewed on the televised programme ‘Government in Focus’.

The response to the pandemic is being revamped from several positions, the Minister disclosed.

He noted that the previous government’s response was more political, which led to it being unsuccessful. Their response, he pointed out, also lacked the technical know-how at the leadership level, which hampered the structure from making an impact.

“When we came in, with a quick assessment, we found that the task force was highly political. If you are managing a pandemic, what you need is political will and leadership, but you must have the technical people to lead the process,” he underscored.

Further, he stated that while there was National COVID Secretariat, which was operational, it was not necessarily addressing the onset of COVID-19 because it was politicised.

“You had a secretariat – a very extensive structure, but upon review, we realised that some of the people employed in the secretariat were not people needed for the fight against this disease; meaning that they do not have the technical know-how and so forth.”

For these reasons, upon being sworn into office, President Ali instructed that a new structure be created. The new policy coordinating committee for COVID-19 has already met. Prime Minister, (ret’d) Brigadier Mark Phillips is the Chair for the committee.

Those on the committee comprise Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, United Nations Coordinator, Mikiko Tanaka as well as representatives from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Private Sector Commission (PSC), the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO), and former Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy.

“In terms of the UN Representative [and] the UN’s reach, it is a massive organisation, and they have been able to develop lots of best-practices from other parts of the world. We are hoping to get some of those and apply it to our context. They are also involved in harnessing resources so that can be essential to aid our national efforts,” Minister Anthony explained.

The overall response by the Health Ministry is results-oriented, and people-centred Minister Anthony said.


COVID-19 Alert!

Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. We urge citizens to practice good hygiene and social or physical distancing also adhere to the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health, Guyana.