Guyana using PAHO system to build on achievement
Guyana Chronicle
December 13, 2001

AN OVERALL assessment has rated Guyana’s performance of public health functions as average and the Ministry will continue to build on the achievement.

Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, who reported the rating, said the weaknesses pointed out in the report will be addressed urgently, with help from various donor agencies.

He said the methodology used to assess the status indicated that there are more strengths than weaknesses in the sector.

"It has helped us to evaluate the process of public health functions and not just the end result of our efforts as was traditionally done," Ramsammy said in an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA) on Tuesday.

‘Performance measurement of essential public health functions’ is a Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) project aimed at improving practice at both national and sub-national levels.

It is a prerequisite for strengthening the leadership authorities throughout the health system and was unanimously approved by Health Ministers at the PAHO Directing Council, of which Guyana holds the Presidency, during the September 2000 meeting.

For the purpose, PAHO designed a questionnaire comprising 800 questions, the answers to which will help the Ministry identify critical factors for consideration when developing plans or strategies to strengthen public health infrastructure.

Director of Medical and Professional Services at Georgetown Public Hospital, Dr Madan Rambarran, PAHO Representative here, Dr Glenda Maynard and Ms Sandra Plummer of Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) are the local facilitators.

They selected 25 senior health officials from different public health areas to respond to the questionnaire and their responses were reviewed and subjected to correction at a two-day discussion last month.

The final compendium is expected to be made public by weekend and will be the subject of subsequent consultations, Rambarran said, noting that the initiative is not intended to rank the participating countries but to help identify progress made by them.

"Countries should not see this as an indictment, but use the results to improve where they can," he said.

GINA said PAHO has set an optimal standard and answers submitted about eleven functions are judged on an optimum basis.

In the scoring, countries that fall below 0.26 are deemed as performing minimally while those under 0.51 are deemed lower than average.

Ramsammy said this measurement is even more relevant now because of reform in the health sector and institutions will be better able to deliver care needs and aid the Ministry to invest money discerningly.

He said Guyana has completed the first round of the PAHO procedure and will continue to conduct more assessments periodically if not annually, as the process is moving ahead satisfactorily.

This country is among the first in the Caribbean to use the PAHO instrument for measuring public health performance and, at this stage, it has caught up with countries in North and Central America, which were previously ahead, Ramsammy stated.