April 12, 2012
Mr. Hamilton: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker. Let me say how thankful I am to once again be in the Parliament of Guyana to speak to the Guyanese people about the development programmes executed in the Ministry of Health by the PPP/C Government.
Before I go into my presentation proper, I would just like to firstly highlight a couple of things stated by the Hon. Member Vanessa Kissoon, specifically speaking to the Linden Hospital. I am glad that Ms. Kissoon is a young woman and a young representative in the Parliament, she is very exuberant and enthusiastic and that is good, but exuberance and enthusiasm without knowledge could be very dangerous and fatal.
There are two matters. Firstly, when Ms. Kissoon spoke she was unclear and was apparently not informed that the Linden Hospital Complex, for the last three years, has been run and managed by a board of directors primary who are Lindeners run by one, Mr. Backer. That is the first point. The record needs to be made clear, because people might think that the Ministry of Health is responsible for the day to day management of the Linden Hospital Complex. Since 2010 there was a board of directors. Presently the Board of Directors tenure has been extended until the end of April. I have spoken to the other MP from Linden, the Hon. Mr. William, and I have suggested to him that he can, and Ms. Kissoon also, can offer names of person who they think are suitable to be in the composition of the new board to be established in the month of May.
The second point is that the Hon. Member Ms. Kissoon spoke to the issue that you note was in the papers not so long ago about the management of solid waste and sharps at the Linden hospital. What must be noted is that on the day of the budget presentation I came to the National Assembly and presented the report of the technical specialist to the two Members of Parliament of Linden, which highlighted that the deficiency of the furnace at Linden which came about by what they indicated in the dated report of Monday 2nd April, 2012. These were there findings, poor operation practices and supervision, the procedure of removing insulator ash at the beginning of the burn cycle was not being followed, that is the first point. The second point is that there was no structured maintenance of the facility. Thirdly, there were no schedule inspections of the facility. The forth point is that there was lack of oversight of the operation, and fifthly staff had no personal protective equipment.
When Ms. Kissoon spoke about this matter she had this report in her hand. I would want to believe that either she did not read the report or she incapable of diverting from the presentation she had already prepared to speak to issue of the technical specialist speaking about this matter.
Just three weeks ago the Ministry of Health held its annual Regional Health Officers (RHO) two day conference. The RHO of the Region 10, the CEO acting of Region 10 and the REO of Region 10 were all present for the two day conference. At that presentation the Georgetown Hospital Complex indicated to all the participating Regions that we have in the Georgetown Hospital Complex compound a biohazard truck that we are willing, if there is a difficulty with any hospital in any Region, to make the biohazard truck available to those centres to remove any biohazard waste that was in any Region to be taken to the Hydroclave.
I need to make the point that the running of the Linden Hospital Complex has been placed in the hands of a Board of Directors for the last three years, which comprises of persons who are primarily from Region 10.
The Hon. Member Ms. Ferguson asked two legitimate questions, one on the HIV/AIDS programme. I would like to say that just this morning the HIV/AID Secretariat, National Aids Programme Secretariat (NAPS), had a conference at Grand Coastal where they were reviewing the five-year plan of HIV/AIDS. They have determined, after that review, the report will be presented and they are at the moment seeking to put in place a new plan running from 2013 to 2020, that is a nine year plan to deal with the issue of HIV/AIDS in Guyana.
Ms. Ferguson secondly spoke to the issue of the tuberculosis (TB) programme. That report can be made available. The manager of the TB programme, Dr. Mohanlal, and any technical person in the Ministry of Health is available to engage with any Member of Parliament to be able to discuss any matter of concern of the two programmes. The two comments and questions from Hon. Member Ferguson were very timely and important.
Hon. Member Allicock from Region 9 spoke to the issue of the Lethem Hospital. The Hon. Member must know that his comments are noted. Some of the issues he has raised, we are aware that there are some management issues that exist at the Lethem Hospital. The Member Marcello from Region 8 raised issues of the Mahdia hospital and again that is noted, and we are aware that there are some management issues at the Mahdia Hospital that we are paying attention to at the moment.
Hon. Member Dr. George Norton was supposed to be the point man on health from the Opposition. He spoke for at least one hour. You would believe that a man who has spent 25 years, as he said, in the health service only spoke about one square mile of health. In his half hour presentation the only thing he spoke about is the Georgetown Hospital. Guyana is 83,000 square miles Hon. Member Dr. George Norton. Guyana is not just one square mile. Whilst the Hon. Member was speaking I was taken back. I was wondering whether the Hon. Member George Norton... [Dr. Norton: Doctor the Honourable...] ...whether Doctor the Honourable Member George Norton... I was wondering whether the Hon. Member who says he has spent 25 years in the medical profession was aware of where the CC Nicholson hospital is, whether it was in Nabaclis, Golden Grove or Victoria.
I am trying to make the point that the point man on health has a limited understanding of the health strategy of the Ministry of Health. That is the point I am seeking to make, because all he did was speak all the time about the Georgetown hospital and its deficiency.
Here is Dr. Norton, twenty-five years in the medical profession, at least fourteen years a Member of Parliament, and the Hon. Member comes to the National Assembly and cries, and cries, and cries. He brought all his tears here as if the National Assembly is… [Opposition Member: What is the point?] The point is that apparently Dr. George Norton is unaware that there are 365 health facilities in this country. He only spoke to one. It means he has no understanding about the strategy. There are 129 health centres, 209 health huts, 17 district hospitals, and 9 regional hospitals, yet Dr. Norton spent one hour speaking just to one square mile, somewhere up the road in Georgetown, while he was speaking on health and health delivery in Guyana.
Today, as we speak, all the health centres on the coastland, through the length and breadth of this country, have at least one resident doctor or there is a doctor that visits at least once a week. That is a great accomplishment. There are 81 doctors of all specialties to man the health centres and facilities throughout the coastland of Guyana.
The other issue is that in the hinterland in Regions 1, 7, 8 and 9. Five years ago when anyone spoke about an Amerindian doctor the only name that came up for mention was Dr. George Norton. Today, we have moved far beyond that; there are many other names that can be mentioned; thanks to the PPP/C administration. If we go to Annai there is an Amerindian doctor; if we go to Moruca there is an Amerindian doctor. Five years ago the man that had the privilege only from the Amerindian community to be called a doctor in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana was one Dr. George Norton. [Interruption] Today that has changed, thanks to the administration of the PPP/C Government.
The other point is that the Ministry of Health has 98 medics and of those, 25 are of Amerindian heritage. 170 of the health professionals in Regions 1, 7, 8 and 9 are of Amerindian descent. When you go to those regions you will see that the health practitioners in the hospitals and health centres closely resemble the population of those communities. So whether it is the coastland or the hinterland, there is a balanced and even development as regards health delivery and health service in this country.
I spent nearly one week in Region 9. In the far reaches of Aishalton there is daily dental care, a practice which was unheard of. In the North and South Pakaraimas there are also daily dental services.
The Minister of Finance in his presentation on page 42, paragraph 4.79 when he spoke to health… [Interruption]
The Hon. Minister of Finance, Ashni Singh said at page 42, paragraph 4.79:
“Mr. Speaker, our Government remains steadfast in pursuing its vision of continued modernisation of the health care system…”
The Hon. Minister Dr. Bheri Ramsaran spoke of the modernisation.
“…while placing emphasis on equitable access to high quality and consumer friendly health services. In pursuit of the National Health Strategy 2008-2012, Government’s attention is focused on further decentralisation and expansion of health services. Towards the realisation of this vision and strategy, Government expended (in 2011) $14.5 billion.”
So all and sundry, through the length and breadth of Guyana, can receive equal access to health services in this country.
There is a silent health problem that exists as many people in health care do not pay specific attention to health care with regard to differently able or disabled persons. It was unheard of that one travels into a hinterland community, to the far reaches of the South Rupununi and finds in a hospital, a physiotherapist, an audiologist or a speech therapist; in the far reaches of North or South Pakaraimas, Lethem, Mabaruma, Mahaicony, Fort Wellington, and the West Demerara Regional Hospitals commenced new services in audiology in 2011. Rehab services, physiotherapy services, occupational and speech therapy services were conducted in 2011 at Moruca, Charity, Wakenaam, Mahdia, and Kamarang Hospitals.
The Hon. Member George Norton spoke a lot about the Georgetown Public Hospital, but he did not state that in 2011 there was the commencement of the state of the art rehabilitation facility of the Georgetown Public Hospital on the ground floor of a new inpatient facility, which offers services whether it be speech therapy or audiology. I have gone there and seen young families taking their children who have speech and hearing difficulties. Dr. Norton failed to speak to those matters.
The other intervention coming out of the regional health services is the moneys expended yearly on medical evacuations (Medevacs), bringing people who have medical problems out of the interior. In 2011 the Government expended $15,136,568 bringing citizens out of the far reaches…
Secondly, 105 patients were medevac out of the interior in 2011; 107 medevacs at nearly 15 million. To complement this programme the Ministry purchased an ambulance which will be utilised specifically to collect medevac patients at the airport when they arrive. The point is whether one lives in Region 1 or Region 10 today, one could access medical health that could not be accessed decades ago. One could access ECG or the intervention of blood tests. For such things in the past all of us had to go to the Georgetown Hospital or a private hospital. Today, if one lives in Diamond one can access those facilities at the Diamond Hospital. This is the decentralised programme the Minister spoke about.
Recognising the success of all of these programmes that the Ministry of Health was able to attain, and the services given daily to the people of Guyana, in all ten regions, the Minister indicated on page 43, paragraph 4.83:
“Mr. Speaker, in 2012, Government has allocated over $16.9 billion to continue the modernisation of the sector and to consolidate on the gains made over the past decade. Government will continue to place emphasis on decentralizing (Hon. Dr. George Norton) services, strengthening public-private collaboration in a continued effort to reduce chronic non-communicable diseases, improve the quality of care and access to health services, and strengthen the health system.”
This is guided by the Mission Statement of the Ministry of Health. The Mission Statement of the Ministry states it is to improve the physical, social, and mental health status of all Guyanese, by ensuring that health services are accessible, acceptable, affordable, timely and appropriate as possible, given available resources, and enhancing the effectiveness of health personnel through continuing education, training and management systems. All the yapping cannot change the fact that the health system in this country has been modernised and, most of all, all Guyanese can now access health care whether they live in Region 1, Region, 7, Region 8, Region 9, Region 10, or on the coastland. That is the undisputable fact.
Therefore, I would like to commend Dr. Ashni Singh for presenting this budget to the nation, and to ask that all of us give our commitment to supporting the budget estimate. Thank you. [Applause]