Ramsammy appeals for more investment in health sector

Guyana Chronicle
April 5, 2007

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MINISTER of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy yesterday exhorted Guyanese, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other stakeholders to join the government and its partners and invest in the health sector to create a safer future.

He made the appeal when inaugurating the 2007 observance ahead of World Health Day on Saturday, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported.

The ceremony was held at the Enmore Polyclinic, East Coast Demerara and featured a mini-exhibition on safe and preventative health practices.

Ramsammy said everyone has a role to play in the development of the local health sector to create a healthier and safer environment.

Explaining the theme for the occasion, ‘Invest in health, build a safer future’, he said the government continues to invest in it and this year more professionals will be trained to boost the system.

Ramsammy called on members of the community, especially parents and guardians, to ensure that children get the best from the system in their respective communities.

“Health is wealth. That is our motto in the Caribbean and we all know what that means. No amount of money in the world could replace good health. This means that individuals, families, communities and governments, have to invest in ensuring good health.”

The Enmore Polyclinic has been in operation since 2002 and renders medical assistance to about 3,000 patients monthly, GINA said.

Ramsammy said it is the first of its kind to be established in this country and several critical services are already being offered there, including dental, voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) for HIV/AIDS and treatment for tuberculosis.

He said plans are in train to introduce an eye clinic and an x-ray department.

Ramsammy said the government investment in the health sector can be seen in the significant number of professionals being trained annually, the infrastructural development and the medical assistance provided the nation.

Also at the function, Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) Country Representative, Dr. Kathleen Israel pointed out that the Ministry of Health and the Government of Guyana alone cannot assure adequate investment in the sector and need the support of the community and every Guyanese.

“Health is the business of all of us. Governments have a role to play, they set budgets, policies, recruit staff, put in infrastructure etc and, in Guyana’s case, they have done so on a considerably high level in terms of commitment from the government and you,” she remarked.

Israel encouraged those in the gathering to make sure they eat a healthy and balanced diet and do plenty of exercises.

She pledged PAHO/WHO continued assistance to Guyana, particularly in the health sector.

Before the formalities ended, she presented the Enmore Primary School with waste disposal bins as part of the Health Promoting Schools Initiative being executed by the ministries of Health and Education in collaboration with PAHO/WHO.

Another speaker, Chief Executive Officer of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), Mr. Michael Khan expressed pleasure with the programme planned by the staff of the Enmore Polyclinic, which is an annexe of the city institution.

He endorsed the appeal for cooperation and continuing investment in the sector and echoed the sentiments of Ramsammy and Israel.

Dr. Julian Amsterdam, of the GPHC Malaria Clinic, made remarks, too, with First Lady Varshnie Jagdeo also present.

The World Health Day programme will include blood donation drives hosted by the Health Ministry through various organisations and government ministries countrywide.

Guyana working towards total voluntary blood donation
THE Ministry of Health is working towards a 100 per cent voluntary blood donation as Guyana joins the rest of the world in observing World Health Day 2007 on Saturday.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) said Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy disclosed the target while monitoring the blood drive hosted yesterday at the Ministry of Agriculture, on Regent Road, Bourda, Georgetown.

He said: “We have started with our own ministry and the Ministry of Agriculture is the first ministry outside the Ministry of Health to host this activity and make its staff available to us.”

Ramsammy said encouraging responses have been received from other government ministries and, very soon, they will be on board.

He said the strategy is all part of the government’s efforts to ensure that Guyana achieves the goal.

Ramsammy said, in 1994, Guyana was recording more than 2,000 units of blood, of which only between five and seven per cent was given voluntarily but, last year, above 5,000 units were recorded with 31 per cent being from volunteers.

“We estimate that, with the upgrade of the health system and development in the sector, we will need 7,000 to 8,000 units per year and our goal, this year, is to achieve this amount through volunteers coming forward and donating,” he explained.

Ramsammy said the blood drive yesterday was encouraging because at least 13 Agriculture Ministry staff members donated and his ministry will now move to businesses, sports clubs and other organisations throughout the country to garner more and increase voluntary donations.

Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Robert Persaud said his ministry recognised the need and was very pleased to be a part of the national effort.

“We will continue to work with the Ministry of Health and the Blood Bank and encourage others to join the list of donors,” he pledged.

Persaud challenged farmers and other stakeholders in agriculture to join in the ‘give blood and save life’ thrust.