PNCR MP denies making derogatory remarks about Cuban eye care programme
February 23, 2007
Head of the Ophthalmology Department of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation and People's National Congress Reform (PNCR) Member of Parliament (MP), Dr. George Norton, has said that he was unfortunately misunderstood when he referred to rumours of Guyanese being used as guinea pigs for Cuban Ophthalmologists during the recent budget debate.
Dr. Norton's claim came in the wake of Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy's response regarding concerns raised by the opposition member.
Dr. Ramsammy, who interpreted Dr. Norton's comments as being critical of certain aspects of the Cuban eye care programme, pointed out that Cuba 's contribution to the local health sector has significantly boosted local capacity to deliver basic and specialised health care to Guyanese.
Reports were that during his argument in the National Assembly, Dr. Norton stated that Guyanese were being used as guinea pigs for Cuban Ophthalmologists.
However, Norton denied actually making such a statement.
The MP explained that he was in fact questioning Government's secrecy about the Cuban's eye care project “Operation Miracle” in Guyana . He said that he had pointed out to the House that unless people are adequately informed of what is the true situation with the eye care operation there will be room for rumours.
Dr. Norton said that among the possible rumours he had pointed out were people could say that “the authorities are playing politics with the health and welfare of the Guyanese population; or the Guyanese population has been a pawn in an international chess game of politics involving Cuba and Venezuela; or in a worse case scenario that the Guyanese patients are being used as guinea pigs for resident ophthalmologists in training in Cuba.”
Dr. Norton argued that it would be completely inaccurate to say that he said that patients were being used as guinea pigs when he was actually referring to rumours.
“I am not trying to fix anything because the damage has already been done; I am just trying to clear up a mistake,” Dr. Norton asserted.
He added that this has not only affected his professional life but also his personal life since it also included his wife.
Dr. Ramsammy in lauding Cuba 's assistance to Guyana had pointed out that several senior professionals in the local health sector including Dr. Norton and his Ethiopian wife Dr. Sarah Norton were trained in the Island-nation.
The PNCR MP condemned the fact that the Minister of Health was given a chance to comment on the statement and he (Dr. Norton) had not been afforded a similar opportunity.