-amplifies Guyana’s response to congenital heart defects
The colour of a baby’s skin at birth is always an important factor. While most babies are
born with a pink colour, there are others who arrive with a more bluish shade. The latter is often associated with a congenital heart defect.
Some babies may suffer a few years, but without proper treatment their fate is usually inevitable – certain death.
This was particularly emphasized in a video documentary completed by the experts associated with the Guyana Programme for Advanced Cardiac Care (GPACC), which is in place at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC].
It is also supported by those of the International Children’s Heart Foundation [Baby Heart Foundation] which is based in the United States.
The GPACC progamme has at its helm Canada’s University of Calgary specialists Dr. Debra Isaac and her husband Dr. J. Wayne Warnica, who are supported by local experts, the likes of Cardiologist, Dr. Mahendra Carpen.
The introduction of the programme allowed for the establishment of a state of the art Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CIUC) at GPHC which was commissioned last December. The programme was however already in motion.
At an event at the Cara Lodge, Ballet Room Wednesday evening, the GPACC officials unveiled the very graphic documentary ‘Born Blue’ which showcased the joys and pains of extending cardiac interventions to fragile babies suffering from congenital heart defects.
In almost each instance of the near 40-minute documentary, the mothers of these young patients were emotionally overwhelmed, not only because there was hope for their babies’ survival but because they were able to access such services at no cost in their homeland.
The lead experts captured in the documentary were Dr. Isaac and Dr. Rodrigo Soto, the lead surgeon attached to the Baby Heart Foundation. Together they were able to amplify the challenges, obstacles and successes of the cardiac programme.
The release of the documentary represented meaningful collaboration between the Public Health Ministry and the High Commission of Canada.
Moreover, speaking at the forum Wednesday was High Commissioner of Canada, Mon Pierre Giroux. He pointed out that the attendance at the event was in fact indicative of the commitment to supporting a worthy cause that will contribute to the development of the health care sector in Guyana.
The forum was attended by a wide cross section of public figures including Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, who performed the duties of Head of State; several government officials, including the Ministers of Public Health, Ms. Volda Lawrence and Dr. Karen Cummings; former Minister of Health, Dr. Bheri Ramsarran; Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Barton Scotland; business magnate, Mr. Yesu Persaud, among several others.
Giroux said that Canada had long recognized that access to health services is an essentially component to the wellbeing and quality of life that can contribute to economic growth and prosperous communities. He noted that promoting health care has become a Canadian core value, which has been extended to Guyana through the GPACC initiative.
Ms. Lawrence, Senior Minister of Public Health, expressed gratitude for the Canadian support from which the public health sector has been able to benefit Through the documentary, she noted that the Ministry will be able to succeed in its quest to further raise awareness of Guyana’s public health cardiac programme.
Although Canada has been providing a great deal of financial and technical support towards this venture, Minister Lawrence stressed the need for the local business sector to also lend its support as she recognized the presence of Chairman of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce.
“Cardiac care is indeed costly…so I hope that this activity will encourage our private sector to invest extensively in this area where so many of our citizens and particularly our young children are at risk of cardiac disease,” Minister Lawrence noted.
Among the programmes being offered through the Canadian collaboration are echo-cardiography and paediatric cardiology. To date there have been some 91 cardiac surgeries and 41 cardiac intervention since the start of 2015 under the supervision of Calgary University experts.
But according to Minister Lawrence, “it is evident that in moving forward, continued assessment of outcome and impact of these programmes, as well as an evaluation of the effectiveness of educational interventions, must be conducted.”
She, moreover, observed that training remains a key priority in sustaining these programmes thus adequate funding would be critical to the sustainability.
“It is therefore imperative for our business community, and I hope there are some persons here from the Ministry of Finance will become involved and play a more decisive role. Providing quality health care is a mandate of the Ministry and we have to prioritise that, but the effort cannot be unilateral it must be collective,” said the Minister as she appealed to potential financiers to “subscribe in a tangible way as you possibly can.”
Prime Minister Nagamootoo underscored that “what concerns us and how we respond to needs of our society is paramount.” He, however, observed that with the kind of support that has been forthcoming from Canada, Guyana’s health care has in fact “made progress; we are not at a standstill.” He noted that it was because of limited resources, Guyana was required to partner with entities such as the University Calgary to help advance its health care efforts.
Meanwhile, Minister Lawrence in speaking of the documentary said that it is aptly titled ‘Born Blue’ as it reminds of the cardiac complications that can develop during pregnancy.
She added, “We can all relate, I think of the apprehension that surfaces when we hear cardiac disease or in the more familiar parlance heart problems, heart attack or heart failure.”
It is the expectation of the Minister that once the public is able to view the documentary there will be a better understanding and appreciation for all that is involved in the provision of cardiac care.
The GPACC programme, according to the Minister, has been very dynamic in providing cardiac services under the direction of the Calgary University specialists. With their support a number of cardiac care programmes have been developed and implemented in partnership with the GPHC and the Institute of Health Sciences Education.
“The efforts of GPACC have been invaluable as thousands of patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases have been treated,” said Minister Lawrence pointed out.
“Its goal has been to advance care for adults and children in a sustainable way by building capacity in the public health system in Guyana through the provision of clinical cardiac services and education for Guyanese doctors and nurses and other associated health care providers. We are all indebted to the University of Calgary and all of the other Canadian institutions that are a part of this worthy mission.”
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