May 12, 2016 Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs
Georgetown, GINA, May 12, 2016
The challenges faced by medical personnel within South Rupununi, Region Nine were among issues raised by community leaders and residents during a Ministerial Outreach, from May 5 to 7.
The Ministerial team comprised Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Valerie Garrido -Lowe, Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Annette Ferguson, and Minister within the Ministry of Health, Dr. Karen Cummings and various technical staff.
Aishalton Councillor, Christopher James raised the village’s concerns to the ministerial team. He highlighted that Indigenous trained nurses often decline to return to the communities to serve. Over recent years, the unreliable supply of drugs has been affecting them as well.
Another Aishalton resident queried the lack of a dental technician to serve in the village and surrounding communities.
Addressing the issue of medical supplies, Minister Cummings said that this issue was being rectified and urged that all stakeholders be proactive with regards to their welfare. “We are all working as a team. Together everyone achieves more,” she urged.
The Minister also stated that due to inefficiency, about $750 million were returned to the Consolidated Fund. “We don’t want that. There is work to be done, there is money there.
The residents were informed that medical supplies are dispatched to the region once, every quarter, and that the Public Health Ministry’s Materials Management Unit is being re-engineered to address delays in the supply chain.
The residents were also informed that the dental technician’s post will be filled because a former staff has indicated an interest in returning, once the Public Service Commission follows due procedures.
The issue of young doctors returning to serve their communities was also addressed by Hinterland Coordinator, Michael Gouveia. “It is recognised that one of our own can serve us best …but it has a flip side. If we keep these young doctors, allow them to stay in Aishalton all the time, then we will definitely stymie their personal development, to become specialists, for example.”
It was explained that with around 500 young doctors, all must have the opportunity to serve in the hinterland, as well as on the coast, hence a one-year hinterland stint will be done by all doctors. Gouveia added that a request to have a senior person in the region to manage young doctors will also be addressed.
Additionally the Hinterland Coordinator informed stakeholders that an Indigenous Health Unit, which he heads, coordinates medical evacuations, and conducts medical outreaches including surgical interventions. The most recent medical outreach done in Lethem resulted in 71 surgical interventions, he said. “We are bringing a range of medical services that are not available here. VIA, eye care, ophthalmology services, we are bringing ultra-sound and such like.”
Every sub-district will have an outreach twice annually, and more time will be spent to address the needs of more residents, he added. The Health Ministry is moving to build capacity across all the regions, Gouveia further stated, and this will eventually see much needed specialists taking up residence in the various communities.
Meanwhile, James also spoke of a key bridge, linking the Aishalton Village, which is in urgent need of repairs and could be washed away unless fixed. Stakeholders were informed by the Regional Executive Officer; Carl Parker that the bridge was catered for in this year’s National Budget and will be rehabilitated shortly.
The residents were told that the contract will be awarded in the coming week along with all other capital works.
Concerns about the linking of the hinterland and the coast with regards crime, and the need for increased security were addressed by Minister Ferguson. She said that once the touted road linkage is completed, Government will ensure that the “necessary measures will be put in place”.
Minister Garrido-Lowe supported her colleague, adding that the concerns will be passed on to Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan. The formation of Community Policing Group in the area was also welcomed by the Minister who said technical training and support will be forthcoming.
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