Amidst pomp and ceremony, the USS Kearsarge Continuing Promise 2008 medical and engineering mission was officially launched.
Yesterday, the two-week mission was launched at the East Ruimveldt Community Centre. Among those at the launching ceremony were US Ambassador to Guyana John Jones, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Commander Fernandez “Frank” Ponds, and Health Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy.
The US Ambassador, who said that “successful” would be a bit of an understatement for last year’s visit, added that this year would be no exception. Ambassador Jones said that the ship which carried out the mission last year encountered some difficulties, because of the shallowness of Guyana’s coast lines.
This, he noted, did in no way deter the mission from returning this year to bring the much needed services, which will be provided by the team.
“The limitations which they thought were insurmountable were not so insurmountable. Even with the obstacles, we did conduct our mission, and “successful” is a bit of an understatement,” Ambassador Jones said. He added that last year’s mission exceeded wildest expectations, as was reported to him by the previous Ambassador, David Robinson.
During last year’s mission, more than 10,000 were treated, including 4,000 immunisations, 3,000 eye examinations, 2,600 pairs of glasses distributed, and 150 surgeries performed.
He further noted that this mission should not be seen as a US mission, since it is in fact a multinational one. On board the ship are medical practitioners from Brazil, Canada and the Netherlands, the ambassador pointed out.
Also addressing the gathering at the launching was Commander Frank Ponds, of the US Naval Ship Kearsarge.
Commander Ponds said that despite the fact Guyana is the last country for this year’s mission, there is still that commitment among the team members as was in the first visit.
“Guyana is of no least importance than the first mission. We are just as committed as in the first mission, and I hope that we can augment what has already been done during the first mission,” Ponds said.
He noted that the team is thankful for the opportunity to provide its services. He further lauded the support that has been given to the team so far.
“The support has been tremendous, the coordination, the security and logistic support,” Commander Ponds said.
Similar sentiments were expressed by both Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy.
They were both thankful for the services which will be provided by the team over the next two weeks. Dr Ramsammy lauded the partnership between Guyana and the US and noted that the health sector has benefited tremendously from the partnership which has been growing over the years.
Over the next two weeks the team, which consists of 150 medical personnel, will be providing services to residents of Regions One, Three and Four. Officials from the Ministry of Health and the Guyana Defence Force will also play a role in the mission’s execution.
The Kearsarge’s mission was initiated in recognition of the shared history and close relationship that exist between the United States and its hemispheric neighbours. Part of the Continuing Promise’s Mission is to enhance collaboration and coordination between governments, health service providers and military personnel.
This mission also further exemplifies the priority that the United States places on improving health in Guyana through service delivery, and through ongoing investments in health systems from the PEPFAR initiative in Guyana.
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