Work on new NA hospital likely to start this year

Stabroek News
March 31, 2002

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Designs for the New Amsterdam Public Hospital, which is to ne rebuilt, are nearing completion and work on this project is expected to commence this year with assistance from the Government of Japan, Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, said.

Speaking during this year's budget debate on Wednesday, the health minister said that the budget reflected the prudent management of Guyana's economy and the PPP/C's emphasis on social justice. Further, he said, the budget managed to provide a prudent fiscal environment to sustain and encourage economic growth as well as accelerate social gains.

According to the minister the budgets in the 1980s and the ones of 1991 and 1992 failed to even recognise the social sector. He said that there was a word here and there but no real emphasis on that sector.

The minister said that members of the opposition, among others, would like people to believe that nothing was being done. While he acknowledged that there was room for improvement, he stated that it was a process and there was virtue in incremental approaches.

Ramsammy said that the government has been very generous as overall the health sector has seen an increase of more than 26% in allocations this year. He said in terms of capital investment, allocations amounting to more than $440 million have been made and according to him, this is an increase of almost 150% over the 2001 allocations.

He said that not only was the government committed to quality health care, but it also wanted to ensure that equity existed. "Today, Guyana enjoys the benefits from more than 200 health care facilities," the minister said.

Every day facilities are being added to ensure that all Guyanese have easy access to health care services and last year more than a dozen new health posts were opened in the hinterland areas, Ramsammy added.

And noting that government had to ensure the facilities were properly equipped, he disclosed that they have been making progress in this area and the 2002 budget will permit them to expand the programme. He cited as an example that government has been ensuring that all regional hospitals can provide X-ray and laboratory services. In addition, he said, these services will also be available at some district hospitals and Lethem, Mabaruma, Charity, Fort Wellington, Port Mourant and Skeldon were being developed to have these facilities.

According to the health minister, health services in the hinterland were being upgraded and an outreach programme, in collaboration with charitable organisations with air service capacities would see the provision of additional medical treatment in the various hinterland communities.

The minister said that at present various ministries were challenged to bring out from hinterland areas persons who had accidents, childbirth problems and snake bites for emergency medical treatment. He disclosed that a programme to hire a surgeon and provide him/her with air services to the hinterland was being introduced this year.

Also on board is another plan to improve referral services and one of the major inputs has to be the ambulance service, he said, noting that last year government had purchased two more ambulances.