RHO unveils plan to transform healthcare in Region One
– training, expansion of services among priorities
The health sector of Barima-Waini (Region One) is set to undergo major transformation, through a 20-year strategic plan designed by the Ministry of Health and the Regional Democratic Council with implementation set to begin this year.
Regional Health Officer (RHO), Dr. Steven Cheefoon made this disclosure at a ministerial outreach in Arakaka on Saturday.
The four-phase plan includes timelines to reach specific development goals. Those are:
- Laying Foundation: 2021 – 2026
- Consolidation of Foundation: 2026 – 2031
- Expansion of System (Family Medicine): 2036 – 2041
- Reforms and Adjustments to cultures: Post Dates
During the first phase, the Ministry intends to establish a medical barrier around the Region.
“In all of our border points, we intend to convert if it is a health hut, into a health centre in 2021, and if it is a health centre, by 2023-2024, we are going to convert that into a cottage hospital,” the RHO said.
To this end, staff would be given the opportunity to benefit from advanced training to ensure the efficient functioning of the upgraded facilities. Several courses are set to begin this year.
“Come April 1, we are training 50 CHWs – Community Health Workers – and by September, we are going to train nursing assistants, post-basic midwifery and also single trained midwives,” Dr. Cheefoon said.
Training for pharmacy assistants and medical laboratory technicians would also be conducted, he added.
In order to realise the Region’s goals, all of the training cannot be done in Georgetown. Therefore, the educators would be brought to the Region to conduct the programmes.
Further, the RHO said, the electrical fittings at the Arakaka Health Centre would be overhauled and plumbing works conducted. A medical doctor would also be stationed there soon, for a period of two years. A nursing assistant would also be assigned to the facility.
Dr. Cheefoon said these changes are expected to reduce the workload of the Region’s lone Medex, allowing more focus to be placed on maternity care to reduce the maternal mortality rate.
Expansion of services
While these initiatives are being pursued, the RHO also said a breakthrough would occur in Moruca as residents would benefit from first-time access to X-ray services before April.
“We have already sent in the medical persons from the Ministry of Health. They evaluated the X-ray service there and they told us what we need to offer that service in Moruca,” Dr. Cheefoon said.
In the Matarkai sub-region, Port Kaituma has already received an X-ray machine. The final component to put that system into operation is a transformer. Matthews Ridge is also scheduled to have its X-ray services brought online by 2022.
“When you [Arakaka] convert into a cottage hospital in 2023-2024, we expect that service also to be here,” the RHO added.
Residents of the Matarkai sub-region would also have access to ultrasound services as efforts are underway to procure ultrasound equipment this year. This service will eliminate costs associated with transporting pregnant women to Georgetown for ultrasound evaluations.
“We are going to decrease that cost and try our best to have the region self-sufficient and independent,” Dr. Cheefoon said.
Furthermore, to strengthen the dispensation of medication in Arakaka, pharmacists from Parika and Port Kaituma are set to soon visit the community fortnightly.
The Government has continued to place the health sector as a top priority with a $53.5 billion allocation in Budget 2021. This sum would boost existing services and advance local measures to curb transmission of Covid. Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Hon. Nigel Dharamlall spearheaded the community discussions over the weekend alongside Minister of Housing and Water, Hon. Collin Croal and other regional officials.