Jan 20, 2021 Letters
We all know that health care like anything else in Guyana is a failure. This is true for both the private and public health care which lack critical resources to effectively address the medical needs of our population. Undoubtedly, this situation has caused Guyanese to face premature mortality. Our loved ones even refuse to seek medical attention because they are afraid of the deadly health care situation. They also worry over the exorbitant cost for private health care. What can be more inhumane and heartbreaking than this?
Just recently, a 16-year-old sadly lost her life to rhabdomyosarcoma. The five-year survival rate for this type of cancer in children is about 70%. This kid probably died because she was misdiagnosed not only once but three times. Misdiagnosis is a chronic and deadly problem in Guyana but it remains unaddressed. Further, this kid was even forced to take a costly trip to Jamaica for a credible diagnosis. Her parents like most Guyanese were thrust into further distress to publicly beg for funds to pay her medical expenses. No one should be left in a position to beg for anything. Begging triggers, feelings of insecurity and it propels individuals into psychological pain. What can be more inhumane? Life is painful in Guyana. Even, the Dr. Dooby Medical Center begs for donations to cover dialysis treatments for patients with kidney problems. Further, a young boy and his mother were recently begging for donations for his kidney transplant. The mother gave the boy one of her kidneys and I pray that she can find enough money to continue to purchase anti-rejection drugs. We all know that healthcare is a basic human right. Our government needs to provide effective and quality health care for all its citizens. But our government pretends that the chronic health care crisis facing Guyanese in all of our history does not exist.
Also, the Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony declared that Guyana is incapable of identifying the different variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus because of a lack of gene sequencing resources. Guyanese must know that gene sequencing techniques are not new at all. Laboratories all around the world have been using such resources for decades but Guyana does not carry them in 2021. It remains puzzling as to why our government does not see the need to validate its PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) results by gene sequencing. At least, our government should have the ability to confirm its PCR findings. Confirmation is critical no matter how many controls (positive or negative) there are in a PCR set up. It is through gene sequencing, that the UK, California and other places around the world picked up several different SARS-CoV-2 variants. This is science.
Clearly, the Guyanese Government operates in the dark and this leads to complications with misinterpretation of results, misdiagnosis of patients and outright failure to identify the SARS-CoV-2 variants. This can’t be science. Clearly, this case highlights why misdiagnosis is common in Guyana. We simply do not have the necessary diagnostic resources. The mutated forms of the SARS-CoV-2 virus could have very well crossed the border from Brazil or brought into Guyana by international travellers from our airports. Also, the virus could have even mutated right here in Guyana in producing unique variants with unique identities. This possibility is seen in places like California, the UK and elsewhere. We have no way of tracking and knowing how the virus is changing in Guyana. We are only capable of counting the number of COVID cases. And this has got to be inaccurate as well. Given this, any data on the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants in Guyana are unreliable.
Government needs to invest in a gene sequencing core facility. The usefulness of this facility cannot be underestimated. Gene sequencing has wide applications in cancer biology, mitochondrial biology, reproductive biology, microbial identification, epigenetics, genetic disorders and a lot more. The cost for this should be factored into budget 2021. Also, political appointees should stay out of this because specific skill sets will be needed. Government needs to respect our lives
Further, the PPP/C Government has recently discussed its plans to attract investments in private health care. Such plans just do not make any sense. This is noise by the PPP/C. Very few Guyanese can afford private health care. Private health care will only work if there is insurance to pay for it. Guyanese just do not have the money to pay for health care. Take a look at the number of Guyanese who are publicly begging in humiliating ways to fund medical care for their loved ones. Guyanese can barely afford food. These so-called politicians often find themselves in America and various developed countries for health care. Life is good for those in government.
The PPP/C must know that Guyana urgently needs a government-run health care system that can deliver quality medical care for all. And this means that at least political appointees must stay out of it. Political appointees destroy lives in Guyana.
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