Oct 01, 2020 Letters
The PPP Government has shown its commitment to health workers in tangible ways in the COVID-19 fight. President Irfaan Ali spearheaded the allocation of $150M in Budget 2020 for health workers. Further monies will be made available in the 2021 Budget. The government and the health sector will continue to determine further ways to recognize the contributions of health workers. For those of us in the fight against COVID-19, we honour the work of the health workers across the country. There must be no doubt of the high esteem, the Government and the people of Guyana have for health workers, particularly at this time.
In addition to allocation of $150M in Budget 2020, the PPP government immediately upon assuming office in August ensured adequate access to PPE and other supplies for the protection of health workers. Since the beginning of August, more than $500M in additional PPE supplies have been procured from Government resources. This adds to the more than $300M in supplies that have been further provided from partner countries and organizations.
We continue to improve and expand the fight against COVID-19. For example, not only has the government increased PPE availability, we have expanded from an average of less than 25 tests per day before August, to more than 150 per day. We are expanding laboratory capacity to more than 1,000 tests per day within 2 weeks. Besides the public health laboratory, at least three private sector laboratories will be in a position to test with PCR technology for COVID-19. The laboratory is conducting more tests around the country and improving the turn-around time and there will be even further expansion. We have started to expand ICU capacity and non-invasive oxygen therapy for COVID- 19 patients, not just in Georgetown, but in selected hospitals around the country. Guyana is now fully utilizing the latest medicines, such as remdesivir in treating patients.
Prior to August, no special provisions were made for health workers. There was no recognition that health workers deserved additional support. Not only no financial provisions were made, there was a chronic shortage of PPE to protect workers. The government has changed this dispensation.
In addition, the Government has begun the distribution of $25,000 per household and many health workers will benefit. There is also a distribution of hampers that some health workers will benefit from.
Health workers are valuable resources in any country. The PPP Government recognized and has acted in accordance with this commitment. Given the difficult times we presently face, we would like to do more. In time, our interventions will further expand.
Health workers have remained resolute in Guyana’s fight against COVID-19. We will continue our advocacy for more support for health workers. We will continue to explore different options so that health workers are protected and can benefit. We can only be grateful for the health workers of Guyana and we must remain in solidarity with them.
Dr. Leslie Ramsammy
Advisor to the Minister of Health
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