Extending the outreach, reversing the brain drain
Guyana Chronicle
August 18, 2003

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THE coming here of yet another team of medical practitioners under the auspices of Guyana Watch Inc. epitomizes the commitment of local- and overseas-based Guyanese to giving back a little of themselves and their resources, and those they can muster from volunteers, to propel the growth of their country.

Guyana Watch anticipates dispensing patient care to more than 3,000 persons and over US$120,000 in medical prescriptions in the next few days - and more than US$1 million worth of drugs to 28,000 patients in the eleven years that the non-government, non-profit organization has been volunteering the skills of professionals and successful businessmen.

That Guyana Watch Inc. has done so much for so many people, getting so many non-Guyanese so far away to volunteer their services in a society lagging 200 years behind, attests to the passion the organization's top brass have for seeing Guyana leap the centuries to the upper crust of the development ladder.

But their invaluable service compels a closer look at two other areas - expanding/intensifying the medical outreach process and reversing the brain drain.

Studies on diabetes in the U.S., in particular one undertaken by Blue Cross of California, have found that outreach programmes that are implemented in the healthcare environment "may be instrumental in increasing the rates of recommended screenings for diabetic patients."

Diabetes isn't the only area where Guyanese need outpatient help. But we've identified diabetes because far too many Guyanese suffer from it for focus not to be directed at screenings that monitor complications from the disease.

The Guyana Watch team will be dispensing care and medications on diabetes. A programme funded by the government or by a health-oriented donor agency, or by both, can intensify the process to include annual eye examinations, Hemoglobin A1C tests and foot examinations.

We believe that diabetics, many of whom claim they cannot afford doctor-prescribed treatment, will be more inclined to adhere to guidelines on diabetes nutrition counselling from a Guyana Watch-format outreach than from the offices of a diabetes specialist physician.

Efforts should also be made or intensified to distribute diabetic educational material and, wherever possible, provide (free?) glucose meters to diabetics.

But we shouldn't have to depend only on non-Guyanese resource personnel to implement these outreach programmes.

For years now thousands of Guyanese students and professionals - products of Guyana's educational and medical systems - have been going abroad in search of distant horizons.

As President Jagdeo urged when he visited Brazil recently, Guyanese, like those in Guyana Watch Inc., should return to see in what ways they can help to move their country forward.

It's time that Guyana reverses the brain drain.

Government agencies are advised to accelerate the strategic initiative to internationalize Guyana and invite Guyanese home to a forum, perhaps annually. There, both sides can consider ways in which Guyanese professionals can return, and where the administration can facilitate their return, for whatever periods, to contribute to their country's growth.

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