Ramsammy details major health sector development initiatives
Guyana Chronicle
February 6, 2007

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THE health sector will experience tremendous development this year through major infrastructure advancement while several other ongoing projects will be completed, Health Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy said yesterday.

At a media briefing in his ministry, he said $4 billion of the $10 billion 2007 budgetary allocation will go towards the works and a big part of the thrust will be completion of the Linden Hospital Complex.

Ramsammy explained that the $10 billion is for the ministry, the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) and for use towards health care and delivery of services in the 10 administrative regions.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) said he noted that the sum represents an increase of government expenditure on health over the previous year.

Ramsammy alluded to the slow pace, last year, with progress on the four diagnostic and treatment centres at Mahaicony, Suddie, Diamond and Leonora but said they are now meeting a tentative deadline of March or April.

He said, this year, construction of the in-patient ward at the GPHC will begin, the design for it having been completed.

A new National Psychiatric Hospital will also be established and accompanying it would be a fresh mental health programme, for which the ministry will intensify training of administrative personnel.

In addition to public health spending, GINA said, Ramsammy disclosed that $1 billion will be provided through “out-of-pocket-expenditure” or partnership support.

A $2 billion direct fund will be available this year through the U.S. President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) while technical support will come from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), he reported.

Ramsammy said about $1.8 billion has also been allocated for drugs and supplies, with $500M from partnership programmes and, through technical support from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) of the United States, a public health laboratory will be established.

The same source would aid the establishment of a new National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) in Berbice and expand the existing facility in the GPHC compound, he stated.

Ramsammy pointed out that the budgetary provision for the health sector, when examined closely, is a reflection, too, of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to which Guyana is a signatory.

He said those which are to be achieved by 2015 were agreed by 191 UN member states, for the reduction of child mortality, improvement of maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Ramsammy said Guyana will be working beyond the recommendations of the MDGs which, he said, failed to set guidelines for chronic disease interventions that are the most causes of morbidity and mortality rates worldwide.

He said the fight against chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular illnesses, hypertension and diabetes, will be intensified this year, with more emphasis on community outreaches to promote health and nutrition.

Ramsammy said, under the Basic Nutrition Programme (BNP), $590M will be spent to continue manufacturing and distributing micro nutrients (Sprinkles) and that budget provides, as well, for the extension of immunisation with the introduction of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccines for young girls and the Rotovirus vaccine for diarrhoea.

More resources will be devoted to reducing maternal, neonatal and infant mortality rates, including universal access tuberculosis and malaria prevention and treatment services, for which about $335M has been set aside in the continuing fight against HIV/AIDS, he said.