Public Health Ministry, PAHO/WHO push for effective blood disorder screening
GINA, GUYANA, Wednesday, November 30, 2016
The public health sector continues to grow as efforts are being put forward by support agency, the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) to train physicians and build capacity in a number of areas.
PAHO/WHO has committed to training two hematologists in an effort to promote early screening and diagnosis of sickle cell and thalessaemia blood disorders. The organisation’s Country Representative to Guyana, Dr. William Adu-Krow has made a number of commitments to the public health sector, as well as the Guyana Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Association, and Fight Against Sickle Cell Stigma (FACES) organisation to better manage the diseases.
A stakeholders’ meeting and workshop was held today, hosted by PAHO/WHO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health. The aim of this exercise was to develop a work plan towards ensuring that Guyana’s health system ably accommodates care, treatment and support for persons living with the blood disorders.
Dr. Adu-Krow said it is important that human capacity is built in the form of
Continued Medical Education (CME). “Within the whole country, we do not have any hematologists and therefore there is a need to have hematologists trained. We hope to train at least two hematologists.”
It has been recognised that for some time, there has been an upsurge in the number of late diagnosis due to the fact that test samples are often sent overseas to determine results. Thus far, 976 test samples were sent out for screening of which only a minimum number of results were received.
This has drawn the attention of senior health officials as a public health issue. Guyana has no trained personnel to operate the equipment to carry out the testing; hence it has to send samples for testing abroad.
Coordinator of the Chronic Diseases unit, Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Kavita Singh said that an analyser used for screening newborn babies for sickle cell had been procured through a public-private partnership and now sits at the National Public Health Reference Laboratory in Georgetown, since no person is qualified to use it.
“Our other issue has, and it’s a very big one, as it relates to not having trained personnel, … I would say at the level of my unit, we do not have a trained person who is very much versed in addressing sickle cell and its complication so there is a need to build capacity,” Dr. Singh pointed out.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Karen Boyle said that partnerships between the ministry and other stakeholder agencies has seen robust action being taken towards ensuring that persons can access early screening for sickle cell and thalassaemia.
Dr. Boyle also pointed out the importance of having the physicians trained. “I think we have potential training our physicians some more to ensure that we also have persons at the other end who have the skills and the know-how to one day be able to offer you the best possible care right here in Guyana.”
By Delicia Haynes