On the right course

Guyana Chronicle
May 16, 2001

WE VIEW with alarm a recent statement by Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy and take our hats off to him for his hands-on approach in dealing with the health sector.

The nation's health is very important and is a component of any democratic process, regardless how young, strong or weak.

If a nation is not healthy, there could be less production and the all-round development of such a society would wane with the passage of time.

But kudos are in order for the new Minister of Health for the fearless approach he has taken to improve the workings of the health sector, aimed at delivering adequate and efficient service to the general public.

In the statement, the Minister made some serious charges against some health workers. If these charges are correct, then strong and urgent action must be taken.

In the past few years the government has been putting the nation's health on the front burner, and in eight years it has repaired and built 166 clinics across the country, established 125 health huts in the hinterland while all 27 hospitals have been rehabilitated.

Apart from buildings and equipment, procurement of drugs climbed consistently from $177,174,000 in 1992 to $578,328,000 in 1997. In the year 2000 alone the government spent some $930,428,000 on purchasing drugs for the nation.

The government has pumped billions into the health care system since taking office, but is this reflected in the dispensation of quality health care which it continues to strive for?

Taking a cue from the Health Minister's findings, the answer seems to be no.

Guyana has a reasonably good health care system, capable of providing quality health care to the people, but because of delinquents among health care workers, proper service is not meted out to the people.

This is a shame and disgrace, and the practice has to be stopped.

The nation's health cannot be put at risk for just a few dollars more on the part of some.

The delinquent workers in the health sector Dr Ramsammy has pointed to must understand that they are being paid by the State for the dispensation of appropriate health care to citizens.

The Health Minister also reported a high rate of absenteeism and late coming among these workers.

This does not augur well for the public health care sector. Citizens, some of whom travel long distances seeking health care, must not go through the rigours of waiting for several hours before being seen by a doctor or nurse.

If health care workers, including doctors, who are obliged to treat members of the public at government health institutions as per their working schedules are guilty of breaching this, then the strongest possible disciplinary action must be taken against them.

We support the minister in his approach at correcting the alarming slackness he has come across.