$200M for children needing overseas medical treatment

by Michelle Elphage
Guyana Chronicle
November 7, 1999

THE Government has disbursed $200M of the National Lottery funds to assist children on the Ministry of Health's waiting list for overseas medical procedures.

And three large-scale leases have been approved for the Intermediate Savannahs project.

President Bharrat Jagdeo in closing off a Cabinet visit to Region Ten yesterday made the announcements at a press conference hosted at Watooka House, Linden.

"There are many children who have over the years sought to get medical treatment overseas. Because of the paucity of funds, the Government, while it has helped many of them to do various levels of assessment and currently has a fairly comprehensive database as to the illnesses and what is required to correct those illnesses, because of this constraint in resources, we have not been able to deal with many of the children," the President explained.

"I'm quite pleased to say that this was done today (yesterday)... $200M was set aside for that purpose."

President Jagdeo said the Government will also pursue its bilateral ties with some countries and Guyanese overseas to ensure that "we can leverage these resources to a maximum, so that as many as possible of our children can be treated abroad."

He said so far, 54 heart cases have gone through the initial stages and are just waiting to go overseas. And he said that depending on what arrangements can be made, he hopes a significant number of them can be helped.

According to the President, the Government will have to see which countries can assist since it will be more expensive to seek treatment from the United States rather than from Trinidad and Tobago, for example.

"We will try to identify those that are more advanced in the disease process, and get them out of the way," Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, told the Chronicle.

But he said the $200M can only go towards those cases that do not require continuous treatment.

"This process is on a non-recurrent approach. You get your surgery and you're healed, matter done. Two hundred million dollars cannot be expended in a recurrent way. So we're hoping that all of the cases we select will be non-recurrent cases. A corrective surgery here, a corrective surgery there, and they live free of any illness afterwards," Luncheon explained.

He said that according to the Ministry of Health's records, there are cases on file from birth to about 16 years.

"But we may very well have to do some of the older ones first because they have been waiting," Dr Luncheon added.

The Guyana Lottery Company has so far contributed more than $1 billion from funds received on the national game of chance.

"I feel genuinely that people in this Region want to move forward. They're tired of political posturing," President Jagdeo told the press conference.

Meanwhile, one remigrant and two resident Guyanese have been given approval for 50-year leases for the Intermediate Savannahs project, which the President hopes could boost the community's agriculture drive.

The three are Chandra R. Rambarran of Demerara Cashew Nuts, Gobin Dwarka of Goldfield Enterprise and Mines Limited and Someer Singh, a remigrant from Canada.

Rambarran has been given 8,000, acres in the Kibilibiri Savannahs; Dwarka, 9,350 in the Tacama Savannahs, Ituni; and Singh, 2,000 acres in the Eberoabo Savannahs.

Rambarran is to process beef and cashew nuts and is expected to initially invest over US$100,000. Dwarka will be involved in livestock production and Singh in legumes and vegetables.

The Chronicle understands that the Government has a database of 21 investors, six of whom have been making enquiries for large-scale investment in excess of 10,000 acres for agro-industrial development.

The Cabinet, in its three-day visit to the Region as part of the Government's approach of collaboration with the various communities across the country, met with Linden youth leaders, Regional Councillors and the Linden Chamber of Commerce. The senior Government officials also inspected various projects in Region.

According to Minister of Information, Mr Moses Nagamootoo, the announcements after the visit indicate recognition of a strengthened partnership between the Government and Region Ten.

Region Ten Chairman, Mr Ovid Walton, sat in on the Cabinet meeting, the President said and raised various issues of concern to the communities.

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