Although the local health sector has been making noticeable strides in the quest to ensure that a wide cross-section of the population remains healthy, there is need for more attention to be directed towards sustaining these gains.
This notion was emphasised by Minister of Health, Dr Bheri Ramsaran.
According to the Minister, despite the evident achievements that have been realised “we are at pains not to be complacent because there are continuous threats of reversals.”
And such developments, Dr Ramsaran said, could be linked for example to patients’ resistance to medication which could be a direct result of them failing to regularly take their medication to treat various ailments.
This, the Minister pointed out, could create a situation whereby the causative agent of a disease being treated can become resistant. And this, he said, has been observed in the treatment of Tuberculosis. This development has created the need for the Ministry to put in place an efficient DOTS programme. Through the DOTS programme workers are dispatched into the fields to reach patients wherever they are.
“This might seem to be a costly addition to the payroll, and policymakers might want to know why, but to be considered is the cost of not doing it,” said the Minister.
He disclosed too that the focused efforts of the Ministry have been instrumental in reducing the incidence of TB even as threats such as malaria, dengue and chagas, among other vector-borne diseases are being controlled.
The Ministry has also been directing much attention to the threat of yet another vector-borne disease, Chikungunya, which has belatedly been found in a number of Caribbean territories in recent times. In its quest to combat vector-borne diseases, the Ministry has been intensifying its measures to monitor and reduce the prevalence of mosquito vectors. Among these efforts has been the procurement of millions of dollars worth in fogging machines.
“Yes we have made progress but at the same time the threats are ever there,” said Dr Ramsaran.
Moreover, the Minister said that efforts are continually being made to advance the Ministry’s efforts, even through continuous training of health workers.
Several Community Health Workers and Medex, according to him, have been trained as Microscopists, to particularly aid the fight against malarial vectors which have for some time posed a threat to the health sector.
Added to this, he disclosed that the Ministry has been sustaining its treated bed net distribution programme. The Ministry has over the years been collaborating with other agencies including the Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association, among others, in its fight against malaria.
Last year alone some 50,000 of these nets were distributed to at-risk populations, and according to Director of Vector Control Services, Dr Reyaud Rahman, there are plans to distribute even more this year. The vector threat, Dr Rahman had earlier told this publication, is likely to escalate further in light of the ever-occurring climate change situation. As such, he stressed the need for the vector control fight to be sustained, a situation that requires continuous investment.
Moreover, Dr Rahman has vocalised his conviction that “investing in the fight against vector-borne diseases is a wise and necessary investment as we have climate change, apart from other factors, which invariably means that vector habitats will be altered.”
According to him, expansive vector control work is required in light of the increasing number of persons venturing into interior locations to undertake mining, logging and other commercialised activities.
In order to help sustain the achievements that have been made, efforts are continually made by the Health Ministry to ensure that adequate drugs to treat vector-borne diseases are always available. Recently the fight was bolstered by a US$1.2 million Global Fund grant which was lobbied for by the Vector Control Director.
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