Regional Health Committee to be launched in Berbice tomorrow
-- 11-member team to manage health services
Guyana Chronicle
September 13, 2002

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THE Berbice Interim Health Management Committee (IHMC) will be officially launched tomorrow as part of the US$2.75M IHMC initiative between the Guyana Government and the Inter-American Development Bank aimed at reforming the health sector.

An integral part of the health sector reform is the decentralisation of health care delivery, with the intention of upgrading the regional health facilities to ease the burden from the national referral hospital - the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation - the Government Information Agency (GINA) said Wednesday.

In its efforts to boost the efficiency of health care delivery countrywide, the Government has embarked on a programme to strengthen the health services provided in the 10 administrative regions of Guyana, the agency said.

GINA said that under this programme, a committee will be established to manage health services in the various regions. It will be piloted in Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne).

Health Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy told the agency the committee would be commissioned at an inter-faith ceremony slated for tomorrow in Region Six.

The committee comprises both medical and non-medical personnel, Ramsammy said. He said too that members were chosen after wide consultations with various organisations in the region, including the Berbice Medical Association, the Berbice Chambers of Commerce, the Rotary Club in Berbice, religious groups and communities.

GINA said the IHMC will comprise:

1. Mr. David Armagon, Businessman/Accountant (New Amsterdam)

2. Ms. Phulmattie Ganesh, Nurse, National Insurance Scheme (Crabwood Creek)

3. Mr. Bhawase Chandra Haripaul, Headmaster, No. 59 Primary School (Skeldon)

4. Ms. Paulette Henry, Social Worker (New Amsterdam)

5. Mr. Shri Khirodar, Pharmacist (Port Mourant)

6. Dr. Walter Singh (Albion)

7. Rev. Roy Tachurdyal, Pastor, Vice President of the Guyana Council of Churches (Canje)

8. Mr. Ashton Warde, Bank Manager, Nova Scotia (New Amsterdam)

9. Dr. Joseph Kalikapershad, Regional Health Officer, Ministry of Health

10. Mr. Dyaljee, Regional Executive Officer (REO), Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development

11. Regional Democratic Council (RDC) Representative

Representatives from Region Five (Mahaica/Berbice), the Public Service Ministry and the Ministry of Finance will also be invited to observe the process, GINA said.

The Directors of Planning and Regional Services at the Ministry of Health, Mr. Aubrey Williams and Dr. Khemdat Umadat and Head of the Health Sector Reform Unit, Dr. Frank Anthony, will also provide technical assistance to the new committee in putting together the programme.

The committee, Ramsammy noted, will be tasked with getting familiar with the current health system and preparing a budget for 2004, since it is too late for any such input in the 2003 budget, GINA said.

"It was decided that an interim committee will be established to work with the RDC to incrementally devolve authority for the health sector to the management committee," the minister said.

The Interim Management Committee will be responsible for the effective management of all public health institutions within Region Six.

"While the ministry will continue to monitor the facilities, the day to day running of all the health centres and hospitals will be the responsibility of the committee," Ramsammy told GINA.

Under the new system the Regional Health Officer (RHO) of the region will now become the Medical Director.

According to the Health Minister, the committee will report to a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) whom the ministry will provide as the Regional Health Authority does not have a budget.

GINA said the health sector reform first started at the GPHC, and according to Ramsammy who was Chairman of the GPHC Board at that time, the programme was successful there. As a result, personnel who were involved in the project at the Georgetown Hospital will be assisting the new committee.

GINA said the regional health sector faces many problems.

Within the current system, the Regional Democratic Council has responsibility for health and therefore salaries and other expenditure for the sector are funded through the region's budget. The new Committee will take over these expenses, GINA said.

The new system of executing health services will enable the Ministry of Health to have direct management of the sector, rather than through the regional government system, it explained.

This will entail the Ministry of Health planning the region's health programme, instead of the RDC making the plans in consultation with the Health Ministry, it added.

Ramsammy said it will also provide opportunities for the health budget to be more efficient, as salaries and other expenses will be paid by the committee. Employees' welfare will also be handled by the body as opposed to the Public Service Ministry, GINA said.

These factors, he pointed out, will result in the health sector having more autonomy, as the regional committees will now report to the Ministry of Health instead of the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development.

According to GINA, members of the committee are scheduled to have their first meeting next week.