US$25M health sector programme launched By Shirley Thomas
Guyana Chronicle
February 9, 2007

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A US$25.5M five-year Health Sector Programme (HSP), co-financed by the Government of Guyana and the Inter-American Development Bank, was yesterday launched at the Georgetown Club.

The contract for the programme, which is also aligned to the strategic objectives of the National Health Programme, was signed in July 2006.

Executive Director of the Health Sector Development Unit (HSDU), Mr. Keith Burrowes, said the goal of the Health Sector Programme is to improve the effectiveness, quality and equity in access to health services in Guyana.

The key objective of the project, he said, is to strengthen the organisational and institutional capacity of the health sector, and to improve the overall delivery of health services systems.

These objectives are directly linked to the implementation of the national health plan, he said.

Burrowes said that, essentially, the HSP has two major components:

* Institutional strengthening: Improving the organizational and institutional capacity of the health sector through projects in information technology, strengthening of human resources system, and strengthening of the pharmaceuticals delivery system.

* Delivery of Health Services: Providing capital funding for part of the health services delivery system.

The HSP, he explained, is being executed by the Ministry of Health through the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) established at the HSDU of the Ministry of Health.

In terms of infrastructure, the project being funded will support the construction of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (In Patient) building and the Linden Hospital complex.

On completion of the implementation of the project, it is expected that:

* There will be legislation, regulation and establishment of a policy to plan, monitor and evaluate programmes being conducted by the Ministry of Health

* The Ministry of Health would have significantly enhanced its Human Resource planning capacity

* There will be extensive training of medical personnel - Community Health Workers, nurses and Medex).

* There will be the introduction of pilot target incentive schemes for primary care team for implementation and evaluation, among other things.

And giving an update on progress to date, the HSDU Head said the programme is well on stream, and if all goes well, the Linden Hospital will be completed in the near future.

He said a Draft Organization Development Plan of the central Ministry of Health was completed, and work has started on the implementation of the plan.

Assessment of the routine Maintenance Management Systems was also conducted for the GPHC and Linden Hospital.

Work has also been done on providing support for the regional health authorities of Region Six in terms of preparing an Organizational Document Plan, and a Business Plan for 20072009 has started.

Meanwhile, Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, tracing the development of the programme, said the health sector project had started long ago as far back as in 2002, with a nominal grant from the IDB for a civil work component and, with brainstorming many times until midnight - they were able to end up with a large civil work component and a good balance.

The Health Minister stressed the importance of a good technological structure, adding that this was addressed as early as in the early nineties through collaboration with the IDB. He alluded to the construction of the Ambulatory Care Unit of the GPHC, adding that the programme allowed the Ministry of Health to expand the hospital project.

And expressing satisfaction with progress to date under the current Health Sector Programme, Minister Ramsammy alluded to works under Component 1: The construction of the GPHC In-patient Building. The contract was signed on July 2, 2006 to an international firm at a contract price of US$2,589,250.

Work has started with the contracted firm providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Health in the various sub-components.

Under component 2: The construction of the Clinical Block of the New Linden Hospital Complex was signed in July 2006, at a cost of G$1.256B and is to be completed by 2008.

Another important component of civil works to be completed, the minister said, included warehousing. He said that even though it will not exactly solve all the problems, he sees it as an important component.

Expressing gratitude to both the IDB and other partners, Ramsammy said his ministry recognizes that, in order to have maximum optimal benefits from the project, and to have the resources to work towards a high quality structure, it is important for the partners to work together.

IDB Social Sector Specialist, Mr. Julio Norori Gomez, noted that the health sector project was a challenging objective, but said that the project is not alone. He pledged that the IDB will continue to work with Guyana