Nov 29, 2017 News
-among extensive plans to improve delivery of health care
Intended to boost its cancer screening capabilities, the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC] is currently outfitted with a mammography machine.
The machine, which is intended to advance moves towards early screening of breast cancer, was acquired a few months ago at a cost of some $86 million, and was in fact the first such machine procured for the hospital in 20 years.
But according to Minister of Finance, Mr. Winston Jordan, the capacity of the public health sector will be further boosted with the addition of yet another mammography machine in 2018.
Jordan made this pronouncement on Monday when he presented the $267.1 billion 2018 national budget. With the notable investment, Jordan said, “screening for breast cancer no longer needs to be outsourced at great cost to patients, as capacity is being built for early diagnosis and treatment of this type of cancer.”
Guyana has long been battling to combat the scourge of cancer. Breast cancer has been recognised as the leading cancer here in Guyana, although cervical cancer has been taking the lead in terms of cancer deaths.
Minister Jordan in his presentation highlighted that the challenges faced by the public health sector are many and varied. Shortage of drugs and problems of procurement; continued stress on the National Referral Hospital; health infrastructure deficits; and, disparities between the hinterland and coastland are but a few of them, he noted.
But in spite of the glaring challenges, Jordan disclosed that “our administration continues to make every effort to ensure that every dollar invested in the public health system is geared towards improving service delivery – quality, efficiency and effectiveness.”
According to Jordan, Government in 2018 has budgeted to spend a sum of $33.3 billion of the of the 2018 national budget to improve the delivery of health care.
“In 2018, we have allocated $2.4 billion for the upgrading, maintenance and construction of health infrastructure across the country; nearly $600 million has been budgeted for the procurement of medical equipment; and over $2.2 billion have been allocated for drugs and medical supplies,” he asserted.
The allocation for the health sector, he noted, is seven percent more than what was allocated in 2017, 12.5 percent of the 2018 budget and 4.2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product [GDP]. “These statistics testify to the seriousness with which we view the sector and its significance in the attainment of the good life,” said Jordan as he amplified that “Government has made important strides, this year, to improve the capacity for delivering specialist diagnostic health services to the public.”
Taking this financial approach, the Finance Minister said, is part of the quest to modernise and transform the sector.
As part of the efforts to boost the services offered by the public health sector, Government had this year procured a new viral load machine to improve its capacity for HIV testing, Zika screening, and other specialist tests, some of which had previously be sent overseas.
Added to this, moves will be made soon to pilot a point-of-care testing programme at the National Care and Treatment Centre, in 2018, for non-HIV sexually transmitted infections. To facilitate the mentioned interventions, Jordan said that Government will continue to deploy specialists across the regions.
Jordan noted that last year, Government had put in place an additional nine medical specialists to Regions One and Nine. However, he noted that “we recognise that more must be done to bring regional health facilities up to standard, so that our specialists can treat patients on site and not have to have them medevaced.”
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