More Cuba-trained doctors for public health system
Another 88 doctors trained through the Guyana/Cuba collaboration are set to enter the public health system. These basic graduate doctors were described by Minister of Health, Dr. Bheri Ramsaran, as “the play-dough for the specialisation process” that is currently unfolding in the public health sector.
As part of its efforts to expand its strategic delivery of health care, the public health sector, mainly through the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), has been giving increased attention to programmes related to cardiac care, orthopaedic paediatric care and care as it relates to obstetrics and gynaecology.
“We are creating more and more cadres who can specialise in those particular areas including neonatal and maternal mortality,” said Minister Ramsaran. Data shows that Guyana is on its way to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that speaks to combating infant and maternal mortality, he said.
“We have so many needs for specialist programmes. Some of the specialist programmes are under subscribed now. Why? Because I am insisting that some of these doctors serve their contractual obligation,” said the Minister. He said that there are currently about nine postgraduate programmes with small intakes.
Minister Ramsaran however noted that as the graduate doctors mature and become more experienced, while they serve in the hinterland and in the rural areas, they will become eligible for these programmes.
In alluding to some concerns raised about the placement of the young doctors, Ramsaran would defensively say that “there is a mischievous thing. If you do you get criticised and if you don’t you still get criticised.”
“We need more doctors…All of the health centres for example should be having doctors,” said the Minister. “When the People’s Progressive Party Civic inherited the Administration many health centres even in the city had medics or midwives…There were glorified Maternal and Child Health services of a limited nature,” added Minister.
The state of affairs then resulted in health centres not being able to offer full services to patients; a situation the Health Minister asserted has drastically changed.
“Go to the Campbellville Health Centre which is now administratively operated by the GPHC and you have six doctors— three doctors who are assigned there and three or four more who are rotating through the primary health care rotation at that facility.”
“We need more doctors and we need to be pushing them further and further into the hinterland. The 88 who will be deployed, we will be sending them to places like Annai, Aishalton and Lethem,” disclosed the Minister who noted, that they will serve there at the basic level under supervision after which they will have the opportunity for upgrades.
With the addition of more doctors, the Minister said that “…we are addressing the human resources aspect of things, because even a basically trained doctor available at certain centres can make a big impact in changing and turning around our score card as far as the MDGs are concerned.”
He assured that Guyana is well on its way to achieving the MDGs and is even creating the foundation to project into another period of the delivery of health care, that is, the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals or the post 2015 international health agenda.
But achieving the needed results, according to the Minister, is not being done in isolation as Guyana has been gaining much needed support.
“I think we have un-exploited potential in terms of the many doctors that we have in terms of harnessing the willing support of international agencies, what we call our strategic partners who want to come here,” said Dr Ramsaran.