Feb 13, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – The Government has earmarked $53.5 billion in the 2021 National Budget for Guyana’s health sector. The announcement was made by the Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Ashni Singh yesterday, as he revealed the 2021 Budget in the National Assembly.
Singh stressed the state of the health sector that his administration inherited upon assuming office in August. “Mr. Speaker, the year 2020 was an indelibly challenging one for the world in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Government assumed office and inherited a public health sector which was struggling to respond to the crisis.”
He listed drug shortages, the lack of functioning medical equipment among issues that were dominant in the public health sector, stating that it resulted in the further deterioration of the already ailing health system.
Singh further stated that his administration is aiming to transform the healthcare system with world-class standards driving their actions over the next five years. To do so, he stated that the government would expand specialty level care leading to a wider array of services being offered to Guyanese; develop an “adequate, well-trained, competent, and compassionate” healthcare workforce; and modernize and expand the health facilities across the country.
The government also intends to bolster partnerships with the private sector and civil societies in the country to deliver on their commitments.
In light of the aforementioned, Singh announced that $1.8 billion will be spent to purchase critical medical equipment for the public health sector. Under the $1.8 billion, $99.8 million is being budgeted to re-equip the ophthalmology hospital in Port Mourant, which is the only one of its kind in Guyana. Further, Singh stated that the government also intends to spend $322 million to acquire medical equipment like ventilators and anaesthesia machines. This he said will expand the diagnosis and treatment capacity at the National Referral Hospital.
A sum of $35 million was earmarked to strengthen the capacity of emergency medical services and a holistic plan to introduce an ambulance authority is also being formulated.
Additionally, the government is also focusing on the improvement of mental health in the 2021 Budget. Singh shared that in striving to ensure greater resilience and access to mental health services at a national level, the government will construct an 18-bed mental health ward at the National Referral Hospital at the tune of $26 million. A review and revision of the outdated Mental Health Act of 1930 will also be done as it was “sorely overlooked” by words of Singh.
Over $140 million will also be spent to finance the maternal waiting homes and facilities at Moruca, Enmore, and Kato and the New Amsterdam hospital will see an injection of $100 million for the construction and retrofitting of the maternity ward and wing.
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