MOU to be signed between Georgetown and Paramaribo hospitals

Stabroek News
November 1, 1999

An initiative by the Guyana Medical Association has developed into a co-operation programme between the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH) and the Academic Hospital of Paramaribo. A memorandum of understanding is to be signed between the two institutions following the visit here by representatives from the Surinamese institution which arrived on Wednesday.

At a joint press conference yesterday representatives of the GMA and the two medical institutions explained the benefits of the programme for the two hospitals, as well as Guyana and Suriname.

GMA president, Dr Carl (Max) Hanoman, told reporters that the programme would allow for the sharing of expertise, the more efficient use of funds allocated to the health sector and the shared use of expensive and advanced technological diagnostic equipment.

There is also the possibility of post-graduate training for doctors with the advantage that those who have graduated from the University of Guyana would not be required to write qualifying examinations. Dr Hanoman said that the advantage of this "hands-on" training programme would be that it would produce specialists who would have already acquired some practical experience in their speciality. Also, he said, before being certified they would be required to work under the supervision of a local specialist.

He said that the curriculum for such training was to be worked out based on Guyana's needs.

Dr Hughley Hanoman, said that this training was possible because the graduates of the local medical school in the last few years were of a standard (on a par) with other institutions in the region.

Dr Frank Beckles who visited Suriname with the GMA president and Hughley Hanoman to initiate discussions on the programme, said that there were detailed timetables for certain activities to move the programme forward. Among these was a visit to Suriname by Georgetown Hospital chairman, Dr Leslie Ramsammy and Dr Madan Rambarran next week. Their visit will be followed by a team of departmental heads from the Georgetown Hospital travelling to Suriname to observe the operations of the Academic Hospital in Paramaribo.

He said too that there was also agreement for a team from the Academic Hospital, led by Dr Glen Oehlers, the head of its cardiology department, to assist with the installation of equipment which integrated the intensive care unit and the coronary care unit to be established at the Georgetown Hospital. That equipment, Dr Ramsammy said, would be in Guyana in about three weeks.

As a result of the initiative Dr Beckles said that patients were already being referred to Suriname. Also, according to Dr Hughley Hanoman, care which patients now seek in Trinidad and Tobago would be available in Suriname at a cheaper cost.

Dr Max Hanoman said that the hospital's laboratory services would also be upgraded in the areas of histology and cytohistology and that Dr Vriede, a pathologist at the Academic Hospital and an external examiner for the University of Guyana Medical School, had indicated a willingness to help in training laboratory technicians in the areas of histopathology and cytopathology.

With regard to what Guyana could offer, Dr Ramsammy said that the shared use of the oncology unit which is being established at the Georgetown Hospital is to be explored. The plans for the building to house the unit, Dr Ramsammy said, had been submitted to him this week.

Explaining the choice of the Academic Hospital for the initiative, Dr Hughley Hanoman said that the Academic Hospital was about the same size as the Georgetown Hospital but that the difference in the services it offered was like cheese to chalk.

He said that the hospital's budget was about US$6 million as against the US$8 million of the Georgetown Hospital and that the cost of care per patient was US$40 as against US$50.

The difference he said was attributable to innovative management of the institution by Rabindre Parmessar Ph.D, who was given free rein by the Surinamese government to run it like a private business.

One of the innovations he said was that Parmessar was allowed to buy an oxygen production plant to satisfy the hospital needs and to sell the excess. Also, he said that in addition to operating a central freezing unit, the hospital had also built a chapel so that all the funeral homes needed to do was to provide a coffin and a hearse.

Dr Hanoman also explained that the Academic Hospital was able to benefit, despite its size, from bulk purchases of medicine as a result of its association with larger hospitals in Holland.

He said too that the doctors at the hospital were encouraged to have their private consulting rooms at the hospital with the result that they were always on-site if needed. Other innovations included a 24-hour day care centre for the children of the hospital's staff and help with purchasing bicycles with the payment being deducted on a monthly basis.

Parmessar, who inspired the turn around at the Paramaribo hospital said that it was only possible with the assistance and the support of the government, the hospital staff, the unions representing them and the opposition parties.

He stressed that this was possible because the hospital was regarded as a national institution and its management should transcend narrow partisan interest.

Parmessar said that the same support ought to be given to the Georgetown Hospital by the government, the unions, the political parties and the staff of the institution.

About the co-operation programme, like Dr Ramsammy, Parmessar said that as CARICOM partners Guyana and Suriname needed to explore operations for greater cooperation. He said that in the past, both countries looked to Europe and North America for assistance, ignoring the fact that such assistance could be developed with their neighbours.

Also, he said the high cost of providing health care made it necessary for health institutions to cooperate in areas where their limited resources could be more efficiently utilised.

A © page from:
Guyana: Land of Six Peoples