Northern Leguan gets first health facility

Guyana Chronicle
February 18, 2003

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AFTER decades of waiting, residents of Northern Leguan, Region Three (Essequibo Islands/West Demerara) can now enjoy the benefits of a $2M Health Hut located at Richmond Hill.

Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy commissioned the building on Saturday during a Ministerial Outreach Programme. The Health Hut will provide the first of five levels of health care delivery.

In the past there was a Health Hut at Richmond Hill. However, it operated on residents’ properties during various periods. Pregnant women had to travel long distances to access health care. One senior resident of Leguan recalled the many times the Health Hut was transferred. As a result, the person noted, many mothers did not seek health care.

Last year the residents’ pleas were heard by the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) and the construction of the flat concrete structure started.

Among the services to be offered are various aspects of Maternal and Child Health care such as antenatal clinics, post-natal clinics, immunisations, outreach programmes, counselling and high-risk clinics.

The Health Hut has a patient population of about 1,235, most of whom are children.

In delivering remarks at the commissioning ceremony held at the Richmond Hill Primary School, Minister Ramsammy noted that the facility is one testimony of Government’s commitment to improving the lives of all Guyanese. He pointed out that development is not only installing infrastructure, but also deriving services. To this end, he said, the administration has allocated much effort and money to improve the social sector -- health, housing, water and sanitation and education.

“Prior to 1992, Government used to spend US$7 per person in health care. Now this figure has risen to US$51. Development is more than just infrastructure; it includes a social component through which the benefits of infrastructure are realised. This Government spends more than 45 per cent of its total revenue in the social sector; that demonstrates commitment,” he said.

Commenting on his reference to the past budgetary allocation to the health sector, the Minister noted just how much Guyana’s health sector has advanced.

Acknowledging that Government spending may not be sufficient to meet all the needs of Guyanese, Ramsammy said that Guyana is a poor country and cannot meet all its population needs, but considerable efforts have been made in that direction.

Expressing gratitude for the new structure in which they can seek basic medical services, many of the residents were high in praise of the administration’s efforts.

“This is a good thing for us. We do not have to go far now if something is wrong with our family,” one man noted.

Another said it would be easier for his wife to take care of their five children.

According to a housewife, she will now access health care nearby at a fixed point, which is more convenient.

Last year $17M was spent in Region Three on health. Leguan, which received a part of that allocation, has a Cottage Hospital and other Health Huts where residents can access health care. There are also Community Health Workers who deliver health services.

Addressing residents also was the Senior Health Visitor of Region Three Ms. Lorna Brown, who cautioned them to care the new facility. She urged the residents be more cooperative and to work together in groups to play an integral part in preserving the health of their communities. They were also urged to be involved with the Community Health Worker in making plans for the community.

The 215 square mile island of Leguan is located at the mouth of the Essequibo River. Its population is estimated at 6,000. The people of Leguan are predominantly fishing folk and farmers.

Speedboats ply the route between Leguan and Parika. And there is also a public ferryboat, which transports persons, produce and vehicles twice weekly.

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