Region 6 is poised to improve in its health services
I had written a letter requesting that health services in Region 6 be significantly strengthened, where every hospital could be a one-stop shopping center, not a referral center. For too long, rural people have had to go from one settlement to another, spending a lot of time and money to go to the townships for better services. This is an inherently inequitable system that needs to be changed quickly. Region 6 authorities had responded to basically indicate that all was well. Then there was an article titled “Government, Opposition MPs Praise Health Sector Improvements in Reg. 6”, (Newsroom, July 21, 2022). The Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services led by its Chairman, former PNC Minister of Health Dr Karen Cummings, hailed the massive improvements in the health sector in Region Six (East Berbice – Corentyne) , indicates the article.
Now comes this damning independent report from the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) which is about to grant a loan of 160 million US dollars for the repair of three hospitals, including the New Amsterdam Hospital. The headline read: “IDB finds new hospital in Amsterdam in shocking condition” (KN, August 21, 2022). The operating room has mold and fungus infested walls, the hospital complex lacks proper functioning toilets, patients are treated in a storage room, equipment is outdated and structures are dilapidated with many years without upgrading or maintenance, etc., according to the IDB Report. If New Amsterdam is bad, Port Mourant and Skeldon will probably be worse. (My father died at New Amsterdam Hospital in 1974 at the age of 46, leaving 12 children behind. His doctor was hosting the visiting Pakistani cricket team for a few days, so he wasn’t there to dispense care).
During the time of the Coalition in 2015-2020 when Dr Sharma was no longer there, there were some very incompetent people placed there and things quickly went downhill. Dr. Sharma is back and is the Regional Health Officer. She’s a good lady, and I remember her being very kind in helping my aunt who was suffering from a stroke. The President of Region 6, Mr. Armogan, is also a very decent man, who would have done very well as a regional minister. Dr Anthony is a good man, as well as former Minister of Health Dr Ramsammy. The other former health minister, Dr Bheri is also in the ministry. I hope Dr. Mahadeo is also watching over Berbice. So, together with three Ministers in the Ministry of Health, I have raised the bar of expectations that we can transform the health sector. With so much talent there, it should be the best department. Region 6 is on the verge of improvement in its health services.
I was wondering if the $160 million loan we are getting could help build new hospitals. US$160 million just to do a few upgrades seems like a lot of money for repair work. In fact, the high prices for infrastructure and capital works across the country seem quite excessive these days. I am pleased to see the bids for the construction of a new outpatient building at Port Mourant Hospital and the refurbishment of the patient ward at Mibicuri Hospital in Black Bush Polder. If we improve education and health services in the Black Bush Polder, it would help retain its people there. They wouldn’t be scrambling to move. The majority of people in Region 6 live closer to Lower/Central and Upper Corentyne, away from New Amsterdam, and I hope there is a larger plan to make Port Mourant Hospital a high-end institution. quality with a variety of services on the one-stop shopping model. This should include all laboratory services and dialysis centers.
Regarding the fulfillment of patients’ medication prescriptions, while it is true that only 85-90% of prescriptions are filled based on the availability of medication, I call on the government to issue “prescription vouchers ” in cases where the hospital or village clinics do not. t have the drugs. We need to provide prescription vouchers to our people when the drugs are not available, “because we care”. We allow the oil companies to ship our wealth and not pay taxes, while our people are suffering so much. Let’s put our employees first!
Dr. Jerry Jailall