The second Regional Health Officers’ (RHO) meeting for 2016 opened today, at the Regency Hotel, Georgetown, where a number of areas have been singled out for immediate attention.
The RHOs meeting usually convenes at quarterly intervals; giving regional health officials the opportunity to highlight areas in their respective regions that have been performing well, in addition to those that additional efforts.
Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings giving brief remarks at the opening of the Regional Health Officers second meeting for 2016
The Director of Regional Health Services (RHS), Dr. Kay Shako, during the opening, said that the purpose of the RHOs meeting is generally aimed at updating the status of health care services in every region in Guyana. The Director continued that the deployment of doctors in hinterland regions remains a concern, since most times doctors are reluctant to work in the hinterland. The meeting also intends to bridge the gaps in health service delivery between hinterland and coastland communities.
Dr. Shako added that, “At this point in time, at the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), we are thinking about, I would not say introduce, but to some extent re-introducing regional health authorities because it was first established in Region Five and Region Six. So we think that if the Ministry of Health can have more control over its financial resources, we can make a greater input in our health care, in fact we can actually realise to a greater extent our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as the RHS’ mandate and health vision 2020.”
The mandate of the RHS is to ensure adequate and appropriate health care across the 10 regions. However, a number of challenges have been identified and are expected to be addressed at the end of this meeting.
Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings told the gathering of RHOs that, “We do recognise that the RHS is the nerve centre of the MOPH. It is true this department ensures that Public Health Care is delivered in every region, therefore it is imperative that each officer in the department, in the respective regions recognise that he or she has a major responsibility to provide optimum service to each person in the region who requires health care.”
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Health, Trevor Thomas addressing the gathering at the opening of the Regional Health Officers Meeting for
Permanent Secretary, MOPH, Trevor Thomas pointed out some of challenges faced by RHOs, namely the officers being unfamiliar with the region, utilising limited human and material resources, acquiring required resources, data collection and managing pharmaceuticals’ distribution.
Thomas explained, “It’s clear that delivery of health care has many challenges, but at the end of the day, the people out there are not interested in the challenges that we face, they are not interested in the issues we deal with, and not interested in the quarrels and the disagreements that we might have, and the storming and brainstorming and how we characterise our discussion and debates. They are more interested in whether or not when they turn up at our facilities they get the services that they expect.”
PAHO/WHO resident representative, Dr. William Adu-Krow gives brief remarks at the opening of the Regional Health Officers meeting for 2016
Dr. William Adu-Krow, PAHO/WHO country representative, who also addressed the opening of the meeting stressed the need for an accountability and performance framework which will serve as a method of ensuring that health policies are adhered to and that effective and efficient services are delivered.
The four-day meeting will see various presentations from RHOs on their respective region’s health status, as well as other updates on Vector Control Services, Maternal and Child Health, and Mental Health Unit among others.
At the end of the meeting, Public Health officials expect that there would be a better year for human resource development in the health sector in 2017. Job positions will be created to fill the number of areas with limited resources in regional facilities, while providing specialised staff at various regional hospitals. Those already on the job will benefit from capacity building.