Amerindian Affairs Ministry taking its role seriously
-- Minister
Guyana Chronicle
February 18, 2002

AMERINDIAN Affairs Minister, Ms Carolyn Rodrigue, has said that her Ministry has helped enhance the lives of the indigenous peoples and listed among some of these provisions, a special body to assist persons on referral from the various outlying Regions seeking further medical attention in the city.

According to the Government Information News Agency (GINA), when patients are referred to other medical institutions, the regional administration undertakes the cost of transfers on the approval of the health officers.

GINA said that the Regions often make provision for their vehicles to transport patients to a place closest to the point of referral.

If transferred to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), GINA said, the Amerindian Affairs Ministry, through its Patients Welfare Department, takes charge of getting the patient to the hospital and visiting him or her thereafter.

The department, which liaises between the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and the Amerindian Hostel, also takes care of admissions.

The agency quotes the Minister as saying that if the GPHC does not have the recommended drugs, then her Ministry seeks them elsewhere so as to ensure the patients are treated.

The Amerindian Affairs Ministry is also responsible for ensuring that the patients return to their communities.

There are, however, some persons who seek medical attention outside of their communities without being referred. These patients, according to Minister Rodrigues, are dealt with on “a case by case basis”.

She noted that when these patients come to Georgetown, they are accommodated at the Amerindian Hostel on Princes Street, often at no cost since the institution provides boarding among other things.

Deaths and burials also receive special attention from the Ministry, GINA said, in that a fixed package of $35,000 is offered to families to help offset funeral expenses. It cautioned, however, that this is only applicable if the patient was transferred from an interior health centre.

In some instances, the Ministry also offers the $35,000 package when families of the deceased return with the body to the home community.

At times, the Ministry of Health also renders assistance particularly in emergencies.

The Acoushi Ants programme is another of the projects that the Amerindian Affairs Ministry undertakes, as it promotes agriculture and diversification in Amerindian communities.

The Minister has pointed out that Amerindians need to be self-sufficient and to do this they need to vary their current agricultural practices.

Last year the Ministry distributed a number of agricultural materials to several Amerindian communities in Region Nine (Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo).

Farmers in the Region are also now practising rice cultivation so as to move away from the heavy dependence on cassava.

Residents in Region Eight (Potaro/Siparuni) have already begun cultivating what they call “mountain rice”.

There is already a rice huller at Kato, which is serving residents well in processing the grain. Other villages in the region are now requesting rice-processing equipment as well.

In addition, the recently installed Community Development Officers (CDOs) are expected to accelerate the distribution of birth certificates, which most Amerindians have had a rough time acquiring.

To this end, a person has been identified at the Ministry to deal specifically with persons seeking birth certificates for children and adults.