No legally constituted Medical Council exists - Ramsammy
Doctors can't be struck off list By Daniel DaCosta
Stabroek News
January 25, 2002

Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy has declared that the Medical Council of Guyana has no authority to strike any doctor off the list of registered practitioners.

"The Ministry has never instructed any doctor to go to the Medical Council and register since November 2000 when the life of the Council came to an end," he said on a television programme in New Amsterdam last week.

"I told a doctor who was struck off the list by the Council that he should not recognise the Council and should continue to practise at the Georgetown Hospital." The doctor was part of a five-member Commission appointed by the Minister to conduct an investigation into two recent deaths at the New Amsterdam Hospital and which recommended that the Medical Superintendent should be transferred to the Georgetown Hospital.

Speaking on the live call-in programme, Ramsammy said "Guyana does not have a legally constituted Medical Council at this time and I am in the process of conducting elections for a new Council with the full support of all the parties in Parliament." According to the Minister, the Council will soon be in place.

Reflecting on the past year he told Berbicians "the health sector made good progress in 2001. However, my major disappointment remains that personnel in the sector cannot be found at hospitals, including nurses and doctors." This is also a concern of members of the public he argued.

"In some cases drugs are not available. There is indiscipline in the sector," he said, describing the behaviour of health personnel as "unmannerly."

The Minister addressing a wide range of issues declared that he will be "asking regional executive officers this year to surcharge people who come to work late in the health sector. Some callers raised concerns over the shortage of doctors at the regional institution and the fact that medexes were treating people at the Outpatient and Accident and Emergency Departments. Responding, Ramsammy acknowledged that "conditions at hospitals are deplorable but are better than what they were before."

Admitting that there is a shortage of doctors in Regions Five and Six, the Minister said he intends to double the number of doctors available at present at public hospitals.

Ramsammy also warned that postgraduate scholarships will not be awarded to doctors who show no interest in working in the regions. "Those who do so will be given priority - this is a non-negotiable position."

Touching on plans for the region he disclosed that construction of the new hospital in New Amsterdam will "hopefully" commence this year.

The first-ever Family Counselling Centre in Guyana, he announced, will be established this year at Port Mourant; a new Health Centre is being constructed at Edinburgh on the East Bank and is expected to be completed by Mashramani; new X-Ray rooms are being built at the New Amsterdam, Port Mourant and Skeldon Hospitals, while more medexes and community health workers are to be trained.

Emphasising that there is no shortage of drugs in the sector but a problem of distribution, Ramsammy disclosed that the Ministry was "looking at a new Health Centre for Yakusari, Black Bush Polder, and has purchased X-Ray machines for all hospitals in Region Six and is looking at purchasing one for the Fort Wellington Hospital on the West Coast of Berbice."

The Minister also announced that the first Regional Health Management Committee will be launched in Region Six shortly in an attempt to solve the "many problems we have had in the sector." The intention he said was to launch the committee in Region Six and incorporate Region Five at a later stage.

This, he said, "will result in better services and more doctors being available in the sector". He however did not provide any details on the committee, its terms of reference or its possible composition.