Health Ministry outlines ambitious $6.5Bln health care plan By Stacey Davidson
Guyana Chronicle
January 16, 2002

THE Health Ministry yesterday unveiled an ambitious $6.5bln Health Care Plan for 2002-2006 geared to make the health sector more responsive to the health needs of the Guyanese people.

Health Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy told a news conference the plan includes five new programmes, including special focus on the health of adolescents and students in schools.

Priorities this year will address concerns raised by people about the health care system, he said.

He said the three most frequent concerns raised were doctors and other care givers often not at the hospitals or health centres; the unavailability of drugs, and the insensitive and unmannerly behaviour of staff at pubic health institutions.

"These concerns were expressed during the national dialogue on poverty reduction and are being expressed to Government Ministers and in the press on a daily basis", Ramsammy said.

He reported that the new programmes the ministry will be focusing on are:

** School and Adolescent Health;

** Health for Older Persons;

** Mental Health, Medical Services;

** Health Disaster Preparedness;

** Port Health Services.

Other programmes are Health Promotion; Strong Delivery System; Environmental Health; Planning, Monitoring and Research and Evaluation; Human Resources Management; Financial Management System; Health Information System for Evidence-Based Decision Making; Health Technology Management/Bioengineering; Management Accountability; Health Policies, Regulations and Legislation; Continuous Quality Control and Sustainable Financing.

In drawing up the 2002-2006 plan, the ministry was also guided by the draft National Development Strategy, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), recommendations from an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Health Care Project and the Health Sector Reform Paper for 2000-2004.

The plan is also consistent with the Government's manifesto presented for the elections last year, Ramsammy said.

The Ministry of Health will be re-organised and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation Plan (GPHC) will be reviewed, he announced.

The minister said the draft health plan should be completed by February 15, and an in-house and a regional review are to be done by March 1.

The ministry is also moving swiftly with plans to hold elections for the medical council, scheduled for March 15, he said.

He also outlined the major priorities for this year, including:

** Human Resource Management with emphasis on health workers being present at their jobs.

** Procurement and Distribution. The specific objective is to address the concerns of the unavailability of drugs at hospitals and health centres.

** Physical and Technological capacity of the hospitals. The New Amsterdam Public Hospital will be constructed and all 27 hospitals will be rehabilitated. A biomedical department at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) will be developed to train biomedical technicians.

** Health Promotion. The Healthy School Programme will be piloted with the implementation of a national nutrition plan. A National Tobacco Control Plan will be developed and the drug abuse programme will be strengthened.

** Primary Health Care. New health centres and hospitals will be built and in some cases rehabilitated countrywide. A National Oral Health and Eye Plan will be implemented.

** Mental Health Plan. There will be the introduction of a programme for the prevention of suicidal behaviour and suicide and training programmes for Mental Health Nurses. The Ministry of Health will be working with the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security to develop family counselling centres.

** Specific disease conditions. More emphasis will be placed on HIV/AIDS; diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. The Malaria Roll Back Plan will be adopted and implemented. There will be treatment for Lymphatic Filariasis.

** Hospital Audit. Hospital Inspectorates will be strengthened with the establishment of an independent inspectorate. The services of all hospitals will be audited, beginning with New Amsterdam.

** Legislative Framework. The Pharmacy, Health Facilities, Crematorium, Public Health Acts and the Food and Drugs Act will be revised.

** Institutional Strengthening. The Regional Health Management Committee in Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) will be introduced as a pilot programme.