PPP/C Gov’t spent millions upgrading health facilities neglected by previous administration -Min. Anthony
Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony has called out the opposition’s poor track record in Guyana’s health sector which resulted in the deterioration of several health facilities during their tenure.
He highlighted this neglect during his presentation on Day Four of the 2024 budget debates at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal, on Thursday.
When the PPP/C government assumed office in August 2020, the Ocean View Infectious Diseases Hospital (now the National Infectious Diseases Hospital), which was expected to cater for COVID-19 patients was in a deplorable state.
According to the minister, the facility lacked basic amenities such as electricity and an adequate sewage system.
“When we went there, it was a shell. Not a single bed, nothing was functioning. The water was not there…and this was the infectious hospital that was supposed to save COVID patients. Not only did they not have infrastructure in place, they did not have a single staff member that was there. And then we were told that they had ventilators. There were supposed to be 20 working ventilators, and when I visited, not a single ventilator was working,” he pointed out.
The abysmal state of the facility at the time was emblematic of the previous government’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that is the legacy they left behind, the minister said.
“I remember when we just came into government in August, we were told that they were only giving five COVID tests per region so that they could test people. That was inadequate. So, we did not even know how many cases we had…and of course the results had to go to the minister before they were released to the doctors,” the health minister recalled.
Since then, the facility has been upgraded and repurposed to address other infectious diseases such as monkeypox, tuberculosis and MRSA.
Dr Anthony added that the National Ophthalmology Hospital in Port Mourant, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) was in a similar state of neglect.
“The Port Mourant hospital, where we were doing a lot of eye surgeries, none of the microscopes were working there. The ophthalmology Center at Port Mourant was closed. The theatre had mold and we had to spend millions of dollars to fix it. I am proud to say that today, we are able to send ophthalmologists to the various regions of our country, so we can screen the population there to see whether or not they have cataracts, and if they do, we put them on a list, we bring them to Port Mourant, we operate on them, make sure they are seeing properly, and then we take them back home. And hundreds of Guyanese citizens have benefitted from this programme,” Dr Anthony stated.
He continued, “Who in their right mind would want to be saddled with this flock ever again? When you compare what they did to what we are doing now, there is a total difference. We are on the verge of a healthcare revolution, driven by strategic initiatives, innovation and a collective commitment to the wellbeing of the citizens of this country.”
The minister opined that budget 2024 transforms talk into action, bringing to life a suite of strategic measures aimed at uplifting the standard of healthcare provided nationally.
With provisions in place to advance the construction of 13 new hospitals, strengthened approaches to improving women’s health and reducing the rate of cervical cancer, as well as the training of healthcare professionals, Guyana’s health sector is poised to undergo a tremendous boost to mirror international standards.
Additionally, sum of $5 billion has been budgeted for the retrofitting of health centres, health posts, and other facilities countrywide this year, while a sum of $2.9 billion has been budgeted for the expansion of the equipment inventory, to ensure adequate capabilities in terms of medical and non-medical equipment.
“The PPP/C government has presented a budget that focuses on ensuring continuous economic growth, social development, and the welfare of every citizen of Guyana. Undoubtedly, the budget will prioritise the people, and create opportunities, bringing in a new era of prosperity to the Guyanese people,” he said.