Encouraging polyclinic vision
Guyana Chronicle
January 18, 2003

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THE health care system in any country forms one of the most essential and important aspects of social services and therefore its management and expansion to meet increasing demands have to be given utmost and constant attention.

Many developing countries face an uphill task in providing free or low cost health care delivery, particularly to the rural and poverty-stricken communities, because of both financial and human resources, as well as logistical difficulties.

Consequently, one of the indicators of the social advancement of a society is its health care system.

In Guyana, especially in recent years, tremendous efforts have been made to expand and improve health care facilities, especially in the rural areas.

However, while a lot has been achieved despite limited financial and human resources, there is still much more to be done.

While the wealthy can access health care from private medical institutions, the cost is prohibitive for the poor sections of society and the maintenance and expansion of a public health care system is therefore imperative.

And while the availability of finance in the maintenance of public health care systems is always of prime importance, it has been demonstrated by some countries that it is possible to provide free medical care which is of a high standard.

In this regard, Cuba notably stands out among developing countries.

Despite the four-decade long economic embargo by the USA, Cuba has undoubtedly developed one of the finest health care systems among both developing and developed states.

It has been so successful in this regard, that it has been sending medical personnel to other developing countries to help provide medical care.

At the same time it has opened its doors to train medical personnel from developing countries through hundreds of medical scholarships.

Guyana has been making a lot of strides in improving health care in rural communities, with scores of new health centres in the hinterland and rural communities.

Notably, many of the health centres in the hinterland are being manned by members from within those communities, through a Community Health Care training programme under the auspices of the Ministry of Health.

These facilities provide an invaluable service to those communities because if those residents had to travel out of their areas to access health care the costs and logistical difficulties would have been astronomical, as is still the case in some communities.

Perhaps even greater strides would have been made in the health area, but decades-long neglect of this sector, compounded with high migration levels have restricted its expansion and development.

One recent encouraging development was the opening of a Polyclinic at Enmore, East Coast Demerara, which provides many of the services available at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.

This clinic will be of immense benefit and relief to residents in Enmore and its environs, which has a high population density.

Residents will not need to travel to Georgetown for the more routine medical attention, thus avoiding travel costs and other burdens, and saving precious time.

The Ministry of Health must be commended for its vision in establishing this medical institution, and it is hoped that others in due course will spring up in other rural communities.

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