Guyana observes Rehab Week 2004 GINA Feature
Guyana Chronicle
June 20, 2004

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THE Rehabilitation Services Division of the Ministry of Health will once again be observing `Rehab Week 2004' from June 20 through 26. The theme for this year's observance is `Making a Difference'.

Activities planned to observe the week include a country-wide Open Day in Rehabilitation Departments, an extensive media campaign involving radio, television and newspaper, a public lecture and a charitable activity to promote public awareness and improve the profile of rehabilitation in Guyana.

The Government of Guyana provides rehabilitation services through the public health system. These services focus significantly in the area of physiotherapy, with increasing attention being paid to other components of the rehabilitation programme.

As a result, the Department of Rehabilitation Services of the Ministry of Health offers programmes in Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy and Audiology.

The Ministry of Health is one of the agencies catering for the needs of the persons with disabilities in Guyana. It assumes responsibility for the services provided through the formal health network and also supports the work of some non-governmental organisations (NGO's).

At the same time, initiatives undertaken by non-governmental organisations as well as the Ministry of Education also address the needs of persons with disabilities.

Initially, rehabilitation services were only available in Georgetown. However, over the last two decades there has been an expansion of the services to six Regions (2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 10). With the expansion, the Division faces many challenges in the recruitment and retention of human resources and at the same time in the acquisition and maintenance of material resources required for the delivery of rehabilitation care.

Physiotherapy is recognised as a healthcare profession, which involves the assessment and management of persons with physical impairment through physical interventions aimed at improving or maintaining function.

In Guyana, physiotherapy services (in and out-patient) are made available through the regional hospitals in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 10 and some health centers in Regions 3 and 4.

In Georgetown, in addition to the main department, which is located at Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, services are provided for patients with neurological problems at The Palms and for children with special needs at the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre.

Occupational Therapy
Occupational Therapy (OT) is a method of treatment to help people with physical, mental and social problems. The aim of this therapy is to enable those who are permanently or temporarily disabled to be as independent as possible in their everyday lives while recovering from illness or adapting to disability.

Occupational Therapy services are available in Georgetown at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation and The Palms. Children with special needs are treated at the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre and a limited outpatients service for children and adults is offered at the Regional Hospitals in West Demerara, Suddie, Bartica, Linden and New Amsterdam.

Speech Therapy
Speech therapy involves preventing, assessing and treating persons who have communication problems as they relate to speech, language, hearing and voice.

Speech therapy services were established in 1995 and have become a well-known service offered to the public. Although the main department is housed at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, services are also provided at The Palms, the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre, the Regional hospitals in West Demerara, Suddie, Bartica, Linden and New Amsterdam and at the Diamond and David Rose Schools for children with disabilities.

This service provides professional help for persons with hearing impairments. Audiology involves the identification, treatment and rehabilitation of persons with hearing disorders.

Currently, the service is available in Regions 2, 4, 6 and 10. The central diagnostic clinic is located in the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation and ear-mould manufacturing and hearing aid repair laboratories can be found at the Ptolemy Reid Rehab Centre. The clinics in Regions 2, 6 and 10 are considered as satellite clinics.

Open Doors Centre
The Open Doors Centre provides training in technical, vocational and scientific skills with the aim of providing persons with disabilities, opportunities for integrating or reintegrating into the world of work.

The programme is of one year's duration and offers training in five areas - Information Technology, Electrical Installation/Electronics, Remedial Education, Garment Construction and Joinery/Carpentry.

Rehabilitation Services are also available at private clinics such as the Kingston Physiotherapy Clinic; private hospitals; St Joseph's Mercy Hospital, Woodlands Hospital and through some NGO's such as the Community Based Rehabilitation Programme which also provides national coverage through grassroot and community initiatives.