Significant ‘milestone’ achieved in health sector with launch of telemedicine programme

The Health Ministry on Wednesday formally launched the ‘National Telemedicine Programme’, a pilot programme that is being carried out in four remote communities in Region Nine.

The communities are Gunns Village, Nappi, Yupukari and Parikawarinau. These communities usually experience challenges in accessing quality health care.

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony along with officials at the launching that was held virtually

They are now able to receive care from specialists and doctors stationed in Georgetown through their clinics that are equipped with technological devices.

These include a digital stethoscope, pulse oximeter, infrared thermometer, blood pressure monitor, mobile ultrasound, exam cameras and others. The pilot programme spans six (6) months and an evaluation will be subsequently conducted to examine the expansion to other communities.

Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony revealed that extensive training was conducted with community health workers (CHWs) in each community so that they can deliver the services efficiently.

A patient and a Community Health Worker utilising the telemedicine programme at the Gunns Village Health Post

“The system provides a lot of opportunities and options to us and we would want to utilise them as we start getting more familiar and working with this system. And, this of course is in keeping with President’s vision of making a world-class health care system in Guyana, utilising technology,” Minister Anthony expressed.

A group of specialists from Georgetown and physicians from the Lethem Regional Hospital are assigned to deliver specific medical care to residents of the four communities.

Advisor to the Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy said Guyana has achieved a milestone that will begin the journey of transforming the delivery of health care.

“From the very beginning, we have made equitable health care a priority, our government, our ambition is to improve health care for all of our people and whilst we understand that we cannot put every specialist, every technology and Georgetown Public Hospital level in every village, we believe that citizens in every part of the country could get access to basic health care,” Dr Ramsammy relayed.

A high level of antenatal consultation will be delivered as well.

“A few months ago, we did not think this was possible but here we are, Dr Ramsammy stated.

Chief Executive Officer of 19Labs, Ram Fish

Chief Executive Officer of 19Labs, Ram Fish stated, “This goes beyond health care, the equity that it brings to all also opens the eyes of the people in places, to different cultures, a different way of doing things…. It’s about empowering the local technology and empowering local men and women.”

19Labs is a US company that worked with the government to develop the telemedicine system.