Visiting neurosurgeons pleased with operations done here
Collaboration boosted between GPHC, Virginia hospital By Shirley Thomas
Guyana Chronicle
March 28, 2004

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COLLABORATION and capacity-building between the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) and the International Children’s Hospital, Richmond, Virginia, have been further galvanised with the visit of a team of neurosurgeons who conducted surgeries on children here last week.

At the end of a four-day visit, during which some 10 children were operated on, Head of the team, Neurologist, Dr. John Ward, addressing the media, expressed satisfaction with his team’s performance.

“I think we did a very decent job,” he said.

He noted that most of the surgeries performed were problems that affect the nervous system, such as the life-threatening hydrocephalus (an abnormal amount of fluid in the brain), and, in one case, the removal of a lesion or large tumour at the back of the head. Dr. Ward reported that the patients are now resting comfortably, and are on the road to recovery.

“I think that many of the cases that we did here, had they not been done would have resulted in death or severe mental deprivation, especially the children with hydrocephalus where we had to take pressure off the brain,” Dr. Ward said.

He said that there are a number of children requiring expensive and very complicated surgeries, and some have been identified to travel abroad to be operated on.

Director of Medical Services, Dr. Madan Rambarran said that as part of the collaboration, neurosurgery and cardiac work are being done in Guyana and Virginia. On this visit, the cases done were entirely neurosurgical in nature.

Dr. Varun Bhargava, the neurologist who recently joined the staff of the GPHC from India, will maintain contact with Dr. Ward to keep him abreast of the progress of the children operated on. While here, the doctors worked with Dr. Bhargava in identifying other patients who will need to travel overseas for surgery.

Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy was very appreciative of Dr. Bhargava, and referred to him as “one of the experts” recruited to improve the health care system here. Dr. Ward added that the people of Guyana were fortunate to have Dr. Bhargava here now.

“With Dr Bhargava here, you now have neurosurgery capability where you did not (have) before,” he said, adding: “I hope you realise how fortunate you are to have him.”

Also present at the media briefing was First Lady, Mrs. Varshnie Jagdeo, Founder of Kids First, who continues to assist in getting children flown out of Guyana for surgeries. Mrs. Jagdeo expressed appreciation to the team and the ICH for their compassionate work, especially Dr. Ward who is known to have gone far beyond what was required of him to get a Guyanese child flown out of Guyana for a life-saving surgery.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ramsammy reported that in the past, the GPHC had collaborations that were ad hoc, but the arrangement with the Virginia institution is different. The collaboration with ICH, he said, “is to ensure that there would be sustained effort, in order to bring relief”. He said the ultimate objective is that the country must have the capacity to do many of the interventions for which Guyana now relies almost exclusively on international assistance.

Dr. Ramsammy said the hospital is building capacity with both international and local partners. He acknowledged the work of Dr. Rambarran and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Michael Khan, in supporting the effort.

The Minister announced that, in the interim, the International Hospital has entered into an agreement with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Barbados, allowing for Guyanese children to have surgeries done there, in cases where they cannot be done locally. This is to be done at a greatly reduced cost to the Ministry of Health.

The visiting team which arrived in Guyana last Wednesday comprised Dr. John Ward, Dr. Gary Tye, Dr. Egon Dapperberg; Dr. Jay Shapiro and Dr. Rebecca Cain. With them at yesterday’s media briefing were Ms. Becky Crowther, Coordinator at the ICH and; Mr. Jason Young, Director of the Roland Mc Donald House who is responsible for providing accommodation under a ‘homelike atmosphere’ for the children and relatives accompanying them to Virginia for surgery.