Guyana recruits foreign medics for CWC

Kaieteur News
February 11, 2007

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Some 70 foreign medical specialists will be in Guyana to boost the country's medical response efficiency during the upcoming Cricket World Cup (CWC).

This is necessary given the increased quantity of trained medical personnel who will be needed to deliver health care during the matches.

With the high attrition rates of nurses and doctors locally, resulting in limited staffing at most public health institutions, the Health Ministry has been forced to look outside the country to supplement this critical need during the CWC.

Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy told this newspaper that the Vanderbilt University has already committed to sending some 40 volunteers to assist in this regard.

Other foreign medical institutions have also indicated their intention to send all categories of medical personnel.

The minister explained that the overseas personnel will not be stationed at the CWC site, but rather, will fill the void left at the hospitals by local personnel who will be relocated during the matches.

“For persons to work at the CWC sites they need to be accredited and this is being done now. So when the overseas medical specialists come to Guyana they will be placed at the hospitals, mainly the GPHC, to fill the void that will be created there.

“Since one of the major challenges of the sector is human resources, the reassignment of many persons could greatly impact on the sector's ability to adequately deal with everyday health occurrences… while we will be responding to CWC, what about the provision of the normal service?

“The mass gathering will not detract from the fact that there will continue to be the normal health emergencies occurring among Guyanese,” the Minister noted.

According to the Minister, it will not be difficult for the overseas medical personnel to function in these capacities since almost all of them have visited Guyana before.

“These arrangements are being made with hospitals with which we have worked in the past and which have sent staffers down here to assist from time to time.

“During the 2005 flood, a medical team came from the Vanderbilt University to assist,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, a simulation exercise is to be conducted by the health sector this month to ascertain its readiness for the major event.

“I understand that there's to be a match played at the stadium during this month and I believe that it's time a simulation exercise is done…

“We will never feel like we are completely ready because there is always more to be done but at this point we have to test our state of readiness.”

He explained that the exercise will demonstrate the sector's response during a disaster situation.

However, despite challenges, Dr Ramsammy is assuring the public that Guyana's health sector will be prepared to adequately respond to any eventuality that may occur during the 2007 Cricket World Cup matches.

A comprehensive plan has been formulated to ensure that the requisite environmental and health conditions as well as supports are in place to sustain the volume of traffic expected to descend on Guyana.

“There will be a number of Acute Life Saving rooms at the stadium which will be outfitted like emergency rooms.”

Noting that people may not be able to move freely around the venue because of the anticipated crowd, the Minister said a health facility will also be established outside the stadium.

While it is not anticipated, plans are already in place for a hasty but smooth evacuation in the eventuality of a disaster occurring in any of the stands.

In this regard, the newly constructed school at Diamond, as well as the neighbouring primary school, is being prepared to accommodate patients.

The Minister also pointed out that apart from the Providence stadium during match days, additional health posts will have to be set up at the Everest and GCC grounds during practice sessions.

The major hospitals are also making adjustments in preparation, in order to be able to deal with the possibility of an increased flow of patients.

Chief Executive Officer of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, Michael Khan, said the entire staff at the hospital is being trained in the Basic Life Support Courses.

Strategies to recover costs from the visit to the hospital from overseas patients are also being explored.

At the national level, 100 medical personnel have already been trained and certified to specifically deal with any health emergency during the matches.

A well outfitted ambulance with a specialist team will also be deployed to traverse between the various sites with health posts.

Five additional ambulances will also be positioned to provide service during the matches.

“Most of the expenditure used during the cricket will end up being a benefit to the sector since it will be incorporated into it, after CWC,” the Minister said.