Jan 07, 2017 News
– other measures apace to improve delivery of care in sector
Without admitting that the Ministry of Public Health was, during the past year, plagued with issues of drugs shortage and even struggled with complete unavailability in some cases, Ministry officials are assuring that this trend will be reversed in 2017.
This revelation was made when the Ministry held its 2016 end of year press conference last week.
According to Dr. George Norton, who headed the Public Health Ministry up to the end of last year, “it is our hope that the recurring issue of the unavailability of drugs and medical supplies will become a thing of the past come 2017.”
And the key to achieving this ambitious goal in the public health system will require embracing a procurement process that is data-driven. “This will ensure the reliable supply of these vital commodities and the avoidance of wastage,” Dr. Norton had declared.
Throughout the past years there were a number of complaints of drugs shortage at various public health facilities. In fact Dr. Carl ‘Max’ Hanoman, former Chairman of the Board of the country’s main health institution – the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation – had revealed that the hospital had suffered from the shortage dilemma.
Not only did he disclose that the hospital was faced with a protracted drugs shortage situation, but that on the occasions that shortages of drugs were highlighted in the public domain, the Minister would wrongly assure that this was not the case.
“Patients would accost me on the road and say they don’t have insulin or the hospital does not have this or that type of drugs,” Dr. Hanoman divulged, as he pointed out that addressing the problem was not easy because of interference.
To address the drugs unavailability shortcoming, Minister Norton last week revealed that this year, “the Public Health Ministry will commence construction of our very own state-of-the-art drug bond in Kingston which will accommodate cold storage. This will reduce the expenditure on rental of a facility for such.”
At last week’s press conference too, he revealed that the government is on a mission to improve the public health sector and by extension the wellbeing of the Guyanese populace. In so doing, he revealed that moves are being made to advance public health care by allocating 12.5 per cent or $31.2 billion of the 2017 National budget for the public health sector. “Adequate health infrastructure, a challenge faced by healthcare providers and the general public in the past, will be a top priority in 2017, such as equipping and upgrading of district hospitals to deliver the full suite of mandated services,” related Dr. Norton, as he pointed out that this move will essentially allow the public health sector to provide inclusive health care to the nation.
Part of the improvement measures slated for the public health sector this year is the construction of a National Psychosocial Rehabilitation Complex as well as a mental health unit. These, according to Dr. Norton, will allow the public health sector to further address the high rate of suicide as well as the high incidence of mental illnesses.
Among the other areas of focus for the Ministry this year will be efforts at “bringing our laboratory facilities up to a modern and international standard.”
The Ministry will also seek to further improve maternal health through a recently approved Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) loan. The loan, according to Dr. Norton, will also cater to the training of some 300 health workers in the area of Mental Health.
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