Supplementing the advances being made in the interior
Guyana Chronicle
November 1, 2002

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AN EFFECTIVE and cheap communication system is one of the essential requirements for the acceleration of economic and social development.

Such a system is vital for access to natural resources, transportation of goods and services and very importantly it is necessary for the mobility of human resources.

In the context of Guyana, which has so many communities scattered in the interior and riverain regions, where ingress and egress is difficult because of the terrain and logistical hindrances, it is even more imperative that viable and practical means be found to access these areas, and for the people living there to be able to travel out to obtain goods and services.

Access to health and education facilities are two of the essential services that people in the far flung areas have difficulties with - those who have visited the interior and riverain communities will know that it is common to see children canoeing to and from school, in some cases for miles.

Similarly, it is common to see mothers, some pregnant, with their babies or young children labouriously paddling their way in boats to health clinics - and they do it with such pleasure.

It would be worthwhile for coastlanders, who get into a mini-bus or car, and in a short while reach their destinations, to sit back and ponder on the difficulties their brothers and sisters in those parts of the country have to endure in moving from place to place.

They do not benefit from those services that are taken for granted on the coastland and in urban areas.

The Government, despite limited resources, has been persistently making efforts to address these problems, and in this regard, scores of schools, including secondary ones with dormitories, and health posts have been and are being built.

However, because of decades of neglect of these communities and the logistical complexities involved, there is still much to be done.

But it must be acknowledged that much has been accomplished.

On his recent visit to Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam), President Bharrat Jagdeo handed over four boats with engines to riverain communities to alleviate their transportation woes.

The boats will be of particular help to children who have to travel to and from school.

This is a most welcome and encouraging gesture, and further demonstrates that the Government is committed to improving the welfare of all the peoples of this land.

Perhaps, one of the ventures that the private sector in conjunction with the Government/Ministries of Health and Education should seriously consider is the idea of boat libraries and medical launches visiting these communities regularly to provide these services.

In the case of medical launches, this system was in existence in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when former President Mrs. Janet Jagan was Minister of Health, Labour and Housing.

These launches transported medical personnel, and basic medical equipment and drugs to the several communities, and dental extractions and treatment of simple ailments were done, thus relieving members of those communities the burden of having to journey long distances at great inconvenience and costs.

Medical personnel should also consider forming themselves into groups and volunteer their services to help treat those who are ill, but cannot access medical treatment because of logistical or financial difficulties, or both.

Some of this is already being done but more such efforts are needed to supplement the advances being made in health services and other areas in the interior communities of the country.