Immunisation Week launched with warning to scholarship students
By Fareeza Haniff.
Immunisation Week, which is being celebrated in the Americas, was officially launched yesterday in Great Falls, Linden, by Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, who sent a strong and clear message to students who received scholarships from the Health Ministry and refused to serve their country after graduation.
During his address to residents in the hinterland community, Minister Ramsammy noted that although most of the students, who are studying medicine, have pledged to come back and serve their country after graduating. However, most of them refuse to serve the people in the remote areas.
Minister Ramsammy said that these students have made a commitment to serve the people of this country, and they will have to go wherever the Health Ministry sends them.
“All those persons that accepted government scholarships and places (homes), the Ministry of Health will send them to serve people where they are needed. I will not take excuses from anyone, because I will send them where the people need the service,” Minister Ramsammy said.
He explained that most of these students would rather be placed in Georgetown, or in popular towns, like New Amsterdam, but would make excuses when they are told to go serve most hinterland areas.
“What is wrong with the hinterland areas? They have the same people that require the same service like those in Georgetown, and so we will give them the kind of medical attention that they need,” the Health Minister said.
The Immunisation Week launching attracted approximately 200 persons, including children who were being vaccinated against a range of diseases.
Director of Maternal Child Health (MCH), Dr. Janice Woolford highlighted the difficulties that are encountered when the Ministry has to reach out to these remote areas medically. This was clearly evident yesterday. It took aproximately three hours to reach Great Falls after one left Linden. Understandably from the city, it takes about four hours.
Immunisation Week is being observed under the theme, “I have been vaccinated, have you? Please tell others.”
Minister Ramsammy said that every citizen is entitled to quality health care, regardless of where they live.
“Guyana has done a marvelous job and we can be proud because we have not been stingy when it comes to investing in the immunisation program.”
According to the Health Minister, some $1 billion is invested in immunisation on a yearly basis, taking into consideration, transportation of vaccines to remote areas, fuel cost, storage and the salary of the health workers.
Dr. Ramsammy pledged the government’s support in continuing to invest in the immunisation programme so as to ensure that every child is vaccinated against the various diseases.
This year, the Ministry has expanded the programme in various communities and is looking at the implementation of the new vaccines.
According to Ramsammy, the Health Ministry is not in a position this year to immunise all babies, but it hopes that 9000 newborn babies would have benefited from the two new vaccines, Rotovirus and Pneumococus vaccines.
Recently, the Ministry of Health completed 10,000 vaccinations for yellow fever in Region One. This is a campaign that was outside of the expanded programme for immunisation (EPI) of persons other than children up to 18 months.
This year marks the tenth year since the yellow fever vaccination initiative started.
From 1998 to now, approximately 400,000 adults have been vaccinated against the infection.