Good plans, poor execution
When it was announced that Guyana would be home to a specialty hospital the first question was whether the country could staff such a facility. It turns out that the hospital would be staffed by Indian specialists who would undertake complicated surgery.
The hospital would open its doors to people from all over the world, with special focus on the Caribbean and further afield. There would be heart and kidney surgeries, other surgeries that local doctors would not undertake because of the level of their training and of course, sophisticated post-operative care.
While such a programme would stand the country in good stead, the architects were looking at the financial aspects. For example, medical care in the United States is very expensive. Even the drugs are expensive; so expensive that there are people who resort to travelling to Canada for their supplies. There are those who simply cannot afford the cost of surgery.
For example, people have been known to travel to other countries to obtain surgical interventions and Guyana was preparing to offer such a service. Indeed, many overseas-based Guyanese would come home to access same.
This was also the case with dialysis. Many people did not come because they were dialysis patients and there was no such service until one centre opened in South Ruimveldt Gardens. Now there are three dialysis centres in Guyana and more people are coming to vacation here.
However, there seems to be a problem with the specialty hospital’s contractor. The fact that the company constructed the Enmore Sugar packaging plant, that seems steeped in problems, is enough to make one worry about the quality of the job that would be done on the specialty hospital.
According to the authorities, most of the money would be coming from the Indians, who would run the hospital. Guyana’s share includes the land preparation. But although the Indians are spending their money, the risk that the hospital would not be constructed to the desired specifications is enough to cause the present concerns.
The country can ill-afford any white elephant. It cannot sit back and withstand the criticisms, because any blemish would tarnish the reputation of the country to offer sophisticated medical services.
The problem is that the government is not open enough. Everything is secretive, and this stems from the mentality of a government that believes that whatever it says should be accepted because the government always knows best.
However, this cannot be the case. In other countries, projects are always under constant review. Contracts are always questioned and reporters never let up until they are satisfied. Sadly, this culture is lacking in Guyana, where reporters are often content with getting comments from the politicians. And this is precisely the case with the early construction of the specialty hospital.
The fact that the contractor accepted to perform the job for less than the contract price is one to cause raised eyebrows. The other fact is that two bids came from the same parent company – this is another area of concern. We now hear that the contracting company is short on technical capability.
For more than three years now we have been asking the government about its due diligence test. On one occasion we heard that such a test was the responsibility of the party granting the performance bond. There could not have been a sillier excuse.
In this case, the government, prior to the award of the contract, could have conducted its own investigation. It could have hired an international investigation firm in a bid to avoid losing millions of dollars. It already has the experience of the Enmore packaging plant.
It may be that the Indian Government is prepared to lose its money in the hospital, but surely the Guyana Government cannot sit idly by and watch an effort to sully its image as a country with a specialty hospital.
The government has good ideas, but it has a problem with its project execution.