Ramsammy announces zero tolerance on health workers fleecing patients
Stabroek News
January 7, 2007

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Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy has announced zero tolerance for nurses and doctors who exact payments from patients at government hospitals.

The minister, speaking at the statutory meeting of the Regional Development Council of Region Six on Thursday, said there had been reports about health workers collecting money from persons for services in the region.

He said that should not be tolerated but there was not much his ministry could do since "the stories are always ad-hoc and persons are not willing to provide the evidence."

Ramsammy said the ministry had taken action before and some of the matters were before the courts but the decisions had been reversed. He said the issue could only be dealt with if there was total cooperation from patients.

Meanwhile, the minister pointed to tremendous im-provement in the health sector in Berbice. He said the Port Mourant Hospital was currently undergoing construction and would be equipped with a state-of-the-art ophthalmology centre which would cater to patients from Suriname and some Carib-bean countries.

He said Berbice did not have a backlog of patients for cataract surgeries and patients from other parts of the country went to Berbice for this service.

Rehabilitation works are in progress at the Mibicuri Hospital in Black Bush Polder and at the Skeldon Hospital, while the National Psychiatric Hospital in New Amsterdam was also slated for reconstruction.

Ramsammy expressed his pleasure that over 96% of children in Region Six had been immunized against polio, small pox and other diseases. He also said the government had spent a lot of money on training for nurses but the nursing school had not been working well and needed to be totally revamped this year.

Looking at maternal deaths, the minister said these were totally preventable and he opined that mothers died because they had not been monitored properly. He said one solution to this was to have a cadre of well-trained midwives. He also said more persons should be trained as medexes in the region.

He also announced that Region Six would benefit from all five levels of health services, as residents would be able to access chemotherapy and heart surgery in Berbice, but would have to travel to Georgetown for radiation therapy. Also present at the meeting were Minister within the Ministry of Heath Dr Bheri Ramsarran, Minister of Works Robeson Benn and Customer Service Manager of the Guyana Telephone & Telegraph Company (GT&T), Carl De Mattos.

Benn said he also visited the region to check on the road project at Mara and from New Amsterdam to Moleson Creek as well as to address issues with the Transport & Harbours Department.

De Mattos told councillors of the development works in the region and said in 2005, 5,120 telephone lines had been installed, while in 2006 GT&T provided service to 2,560 residents.

De Mattos disclosed that for this year the company was expected to install another 5,120 telephone lines.

He said there were also plans to upgrade the Port Mourant switch and install 640 extra lines. Expansion of the service would also be done at Adelphi and Sheet Anchor in East Canje and Nigg on the Corentyne, Tucber Park, Smithfield, Gay Park and the Glasgow/ Edinburgh area.

According to De Mattos, Black Bush Polder would benefit from wireless technology this year because of the geographical area, while this service would be upgraded at Number 19 Village. One councillor raised the issue of cell phones not working in remote areas and De Mattos said they were working on installing towers in those areas to have improved signals.

Regional Chairman Zulfikar Mustapha told councillors that inviting utility companies and government officials to meetings to address issues would be continuous.