Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge said that health presented the greatest challenge for Guyanese authorities monitoring the influx of persons feeling hardships in neighbouring Venezuela.
Greenidge told reporters yesterday that “due to the length of the border, the challenge is being able to find them and establish the status so they can get the necessary healthcare, and we have been working on that since last year in conjunction with the regional health agency and the Brazilians”.
“If you get 12 people or 15 moving and they are ill – malaria, measles and these types of afflictions, then there is a danger posed, especially to our Indigenous people by personal pandemics. One is that we need special help to monitor and to ensure we have the vaccination and they are inoculated, as appropriate,” Greenidge outlined.
He added that Guyana has been working with international agencies and neighbouring Brazil to help locate persons for health screenings.
“That is not a complete coverage and we would like to be able to work with all of our neighbours to ensure that health aspect is covered, because to me that poses a bigger threat immediately, than anything else,” Greenidge stated.
The Foreign Affairs Minister could not provide statistics on the persons crossing the border into Guyana, but warned that the numbers from international agencies may be slightly higher, as these are estimates and projections.
However, statistics obtained by Kaieteur News indicate that some 1,446 Venezuelans were screened in the past three months by mobile surveillance health teams in Region One (Barima/Waini).
These teams are established at critical locations such as ports of entry to aid in screening, health promotion and health education activities.
According to the statistics from mobile patrols, 52 Venezuelans were diagnosed with skin infections; 67 with respiratory infection; 146 with malaria: three with HIV. There were no tuberculosis cases detected.
At the Mabaruma Regional Hospital, between January and July, some 499 Venezuelans were screened. According to the statistics obtained by this publication, this included 27 skin infections; 45 with respiratory diseases; 234 with malaria; two with tuberculosis; and one HIV case.
There are growing health concerns throughout South America about the movement of people fleeing Venezuela.
In Brazil, this exodus has been blamed for the pockets of measles in the country, as the genotype of the virus (D8) that is circulating in the country, is the same that circulates in Venezuela.
This is something that Guyana is fully aware of.
“The greatest requirement has to do with ensuring that we can identify the movers and their health status. Unless people move in numbers that constitute a strategic threat, the significance of the movement lies in our ability to identify their health status,” Greenidge stated.
He stated that persons arriving illegally are not being prosecuted, but are required to get their health checked and register with immigration officials.
“Some come they send two weeks and they move. Some come and sit on this side of the border and arrangements are being made to try and ensure that those who arrive on this side are accommodated in circumstances that are acceptable to us and internationally,” Greenidge stated.
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