Remarks by the Honorable Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings on Challenges in Access and Delivery of Healthcare Programmes (2017)
Esteemed ladies and gentlemen, a very good morning to you.
Today, I am extremely pleased to be afforded the opportunity to be part of this Continuous Medical Education (CME) seminar organized by the Bridges Global Medical Missions. A lot will be discussed here today, and I urge all gathered to make full use of the information being shared as together we exchange scientific and medical knowledge. On behalf of the Government of Guyana, I would like to commend the principals of the Bridges Global Medical Missions for organizing this most pertinent exercise which aims to strengthen and enhance the competencies of our medical professionals.
Challenges in Access and Delivery of Healthcare Programmes
A national priority of the Ministry of Public Health is to deliver the highest quality of public healthcare to persons living in Guyana, regardless of their location or social status. It is the Ministry’s commitment to significantly narrow the gaps of inequity as it relates to the timely, efficient, and effective delivery of public healthcare that is of uncompromisingly high standards. The achievement of all of these goals remains a work in progress as the Ministry of Public Health continues to build capacity, particularly within the regions to better serve the people of Guyana.
We at the Ministry of Public Health recognize that access to healthcare services is critical for residents of rural communities. Ideally, residents should be able to conveniently and confidently use services such as primary care, dental, behavioral health, emergency, and public health services. One of the nerve centers of the Ministry is the Regional Health Services Department (RHS) which is responsible for the delivery of public healthcare throughout the regions of Guyana. One of the major challenges that affect the delivery of best quality healthcare is the vastly remote geographical spread of some areas within the hinterland communities. Such is the geography of Guyana that it sometimes poses a transportation challenge to public healthcare professionals tasked with the delivery of care, treatment, and medicines to the communities they serve.
Residents of our hinterland communities often experience barriers to healthcare that limit their ability to get the care they need. In order for rural residents to have sufficient healthcare access, necessary and appropriate services must be available which can be accessed in a timely manner. In addition to having an adequate supply of healthcare services in the community, there are other factors which play a significant role in healthcare access.
Addressing some of the issues and challenges to access and delivery of public healthcare in Guyana
A paucity of specialist doctors in the region also presents challenges to the public health system since it results in numerous patient referrals. This issue however is being addressed in the interim with the temporary placement of some specialist doctors who visit regional communities as the need arises. Some of the specialist doctors currently being utilized work in the areas of orthopedics, pediatrics, and ophthalmology.
We at the Ministry recognize that the effectiveness of the organization and management of service delivery in the regions depend, among others, on the competence and number of members of the regional health management teams as well as relevant management teams in health centres, health posts, and communities. These teams must effectively coordinate the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of health service delivery.
In strengthening the leadership of regional health management teams, we recognize that there is need to ensure that regional health systems have technically-competent health management teams that lead governance at the regional health offices, district hospitals, regional hospitals, health centres, health posts and communities. District health management teams should also be competent enough to provide outstanding leadership in service delivery, health financing, information and health technologies, and general regional healthcare management. Regional public health teams should be developed using formal and sustainable capacity-building programmes.
Continuously refining the implementation of a comprehensive package of essential health services is an excellent way of ensuring public health care service are available for respective communities. The comprehensive health services package should be based on population health needs, barriers to equitable expansion of access to services and available resources. The package needs to be considered as the minimum that can be provided during a specified time frame. There is need to consider the complementary capacities of the different levels of care and the necessary balance among promotional, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services.
Improving the organization and management of health service delivery will also positive impact on the accessibility. In order to ensure availability, quality and a continuum of public health care and to reduce the frequency of hospital visits by patients, there is need to use effective service delivery models that promote efficient referral systems and integration of services, e.g. integrated management of childhood illness. There is need to improve the quality and quantity of integrated supervision to ensure continuity of superior health care.
The interface between community public healthcare and the formal public health care system must be strengthened in order to improve access to essential services. The Ministry of Public Health is working assiduously to ensure that we realize universal health care. We want to establish comprehensiveness, as well as, people-centered public health care that is equitably administered regardless of one’s location.
I believe that this meeting will be of the highest standard and would like to urge all the delegates to actively participate throughout this event. This CME meeting will definitely provide an opportunity and environment for Guyana’s local doctors and those from the international medical community to exchange knowledge and experiences in an organized scientific discourse for the overall benefit of humanity.
To our local medical practitioners, I wish to congratulate you on your contributions toward today’s meeting, and I applaud your zest and willingness in wanting to move Guyana’s health care standards to a higher level. I look forward to the translation of today’s discourse into tomorrow’s practice. Best wishes on meaningful and fruitful discourse and interactions.
To our overseas delegates, we thank you once again for your participation in a CME forum. I hope you will enjoy our warm hospitality, learn about our multi-ethnic culture, and explore the wonderful sight and sound of urban and natural adventures of Guyana.