Improving the delivery of primary health care is poised for improvement with the launch of the second edition of the Standards Treatment Guidelines for Primary Health Care. The revised publication was yesterday launched at the Kingston, Georgetown, Guyana Marriott Hotel.
It represented collaboration between the Ministry of Public Health and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Speaking at the launch which he described as, “A simple but very significant occasion”, Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, said that the edition is not only a revision but also an expanded one that builds on the lessons learnt.
It also takes into consideration challenges encountered when implementing the guidelines on the first edition, he added.
More than 160 common medical conditions and diseases are covered in the edition and according to Minister Norton, “This complements the more detailed guidelines for Communicable and Non Communicable Diseases, Mental Disorders and Maternal and Child Health complications.”
He pointed out too that the importance of standard treatment guidelines to ensuring that the treatment of all common conditions is according to approved standards cannot be over-emphasized.
It not only guarantees quality of care and allows for the monitoring of the effectiveness of treatment, but Dr Norton stressed that it is designed to aid in the development of the Essential Medicines List.
“While these guidelines are mandatory for the public health care delivery system, I would like to take this opportunity to urge that they also be implemented in the private health care sector,” said the Minister.
This, he added, would result in a unified approach to the management of diseases in Guyana.
“It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that in order to benefit from the use of these guidelines, the training of primary health care workers, record-keeping, and the development of habits of analysing statistical data are of paramount importance,” said the Minister.
According to him, the Ministry of Public Health is fully committed to ensuring that all of this is done to make certain that the guidelines are effectively utilised.
And he stressed that the improved management and provision of evidence-based, people-responsive, quality health services is high on my Ministry’s agenda.
In fact, it is one of the tripartite strategic goals, which is geared towards improved client satisfaction with health facilities and services, as outlined in Health Vision 2020, disclosed the Minister.
One of the pillars of health vision 2020 is Universal Health Coverage, which promotes a renewed focus on Primary Health Care as the principal overarching approach to public health care provision in Guyana.
As such, Dr. Norton noted, all efforts will be made by the Ministry of Public Health to continuously improve the quality of Primary Health Care Services provided to the Guyanese people.
“In this regard, we will ensure that Standard Treatment Guidelines for Primary Health Care in Guyana are reviewed and revised periodically. I would like to thank the Supply Chain Management System for the support rendered to Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud in the development of this second edition as part of USAID support for strengthening the Public Health Care system,” the Minister said.
He also extended gratitude to United States Ambassador, Perry Holloway, and all other officers for the assistance rendered by the American Government.
Speaking at the forum yesterday too was Christopher Cushing, Mission Director, USAID/Eastern and Southern Caribbean who commended the Minister and USAID funded, Supply Chain Management System (SCMS) project, for what he called a “major achievement.”
And the achievement, according to him, is yet another milestone in the long history of cooperation between the US Government and the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Public Health.
“This project embodies two key tenets of the U.S Government’s support to partner countries: local capacity building and the creation of sustainable interventions,” said Cushing.
Through its successes in improving ware-house operations at the Ministry of Public Health’s Materials Management Unit, the SCMS project has realized significant efficiencies and effectiveness to strengthen the supply chain for all pharmaceuticals and health commodities managed by the public sector in Guyana.
And according to Cushing, “We are pleased that this HIV/AIDS programme was able to expand its focus and achieve wider impacts across the entire public health care delivery system.”
During SCMS’ collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health’s Materials Management Unit, it was recognized that procurement and distribution of products could be standardized and streamlined. Several drugs of the same class were stocked, and procurement was often determined by prescribers’ preferences, Cushing added.
Recognizing the negative effects, particularly the waste of scarce resources, that such practices could have, SCMS, in collaboration with the Ministry produced the first Standard Treatment Guidelines (STG) for the primary health care level in Guyana in 2010.
Since these guidelines only covered 80 diseases and conditions at that time, Cushing said that the need to expand the guidelines was recognized. “This second edition now covers approximately 200 conditions and treatment protocols. It is expected that its use will provide clear and cost-effective guidelines for the procurement and distribution of drugs, standardize health care, and ensure that all essential drugs to provide the highest standard of care are readily available,” added Cushing.
He noted, too, “It will also contribute to the continued strengthening of the healthcare system in Guyana and ultimately to better health care outcomes for all Guyanese.”
Standard Treatment Guidelines are the fundamental foundation upon which the whole health supply chain of a country is based, and Cushing stressed that compliance with these guidelines is imperative to the effective and efficient usage of pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies.
He noted that the United States Government, through USAID, is pleased to contribute to the Ministry’s efforts to ensure that quality service, with the rational use of drugs, result in the provision of quality care for all people in Guyana.
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