Guyana: Health Ministry re-commissions Paramakatoi Health Centre into Smart Hospital

Guyana: Health Ministry re-commissions Paramakatoi Health Centre into Smart Hospital

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Georgetown, Guyana: Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony, was joined by the British High Commissioner to Guyana, Jane Miller, and Advisor of Health Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control attached to the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Dr Rainer Escalada at the re-commissioning of the newly developed ‘SMART’ Hospital at Paramakatoi in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) on Saturday, April 8, 2023.

As per the update, retrofitting and upgrading of the Paramakatoi Health Centre is part of ministry’s Smart Healthcare Facilities in the Caribbean Project that is being funded by the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and implemented jointly by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the Ministry of Health.

According to the ministry, the SMART Hospital initiative comes under an $835M project which seeks to transform five health institutions in Guyana into ‘SMART’ facilities, with Paramakatoi being the fifth and final facility to receive this improvement.

Minister Anthony expressed his appreciation for the re-commissioning of the Health Centre, stating that with this upgrade, the (now) hospital will become easily accessible to patient care and provide a high quality of health care with the intervention of solar power being used to adequately power the hospital.

Further, the health minister noted that last year, $100M was handed over to each region for the restoration of health centres and posts, with the government’s goal of changing the health sector to provide higher and better quality primary health care across Guyana. He added that another $100M had been budgeted for this year to continue improving all health facilities in each region, as well as financing for the purchase of sufficient equipment for these health centres and posts.

“Over the last year or two, we came up with a package of services that we want to deliver at every health post and Health Centre, and when we look at it, it’s about 216 different interventions that these facilities must deliver. But if we are going to deliver that level of care, then we need to make sure that we have the right equipment in place”, Dr Anthony explained, according to the update by the ministry.

The Minister further disclosed that the Ministry has been working on strengthening the Immunisation Programme. He stated that Guyana had been recognised over the years for its high vaccination coverage across the regions but over the last two years, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Ministry has recorded a slight decline.

“We want to assure that we can pick up those numbers again because we don’t want any child that is eligible for a vaccine that can help them to fight whatever disease it is that they don’t get that vaccine. We really want to make sure that all of them get all of the vaccines, and that is why I want to appeal to you if there are any children that you know that did not get their vaccines to make sure that you bring them to this facility so that we can give them their vaccine”, Dr Anthony encouraged.

According to Minister Anthony, Guyana will soon be launching an interesting project that will allow people to receive vaccines without the need for injection.

“So it would become more comfortable for the child that is receiving the vaccine, but it’s not a vaccine in the traditional sense. It’s going to be a different way of delivering that vaccine, and we feel that that can have a big impact on uptake and prevent the fear that children may have in using such a vaccine”, he said.

The Health Ministry of Guyana also mentioned that with the transformation of services that the community and hinterland regions will undergo, Minister Anthony highlighted the need for trained personnel within the regions.

As such, he advocated for people in the community, young and old, who are interested in the medical field, to get on board and register for courses that the MoH is offering. One such course he mentioned was the Hybrid Professional Nursing programme. He stated that while this course will require Math and English, the MoH will be providing a remedial program to teach people Math and English so that they can be eligible to enter the programme.

In concluding his feature address, Dr Anthony revealed that with the support from Inter-American Bank, the Ministry would be implementing a Hinterland Development Programme this year which will be continuing for the next two to three years, which will see the construction of a new health facility in Kato, as well as the upgrade of existing facilities in Lethem, Mabaruma, and Moruca.

“In December 2023, we signed an agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank to fund this project (Hinterland Development Project), and through that agreement, we are getting US$97M to upgrade and to build new infrastructure for the interior of Guyana”, Dr Anthony said.

Meanwhile, the update further exclaimed that Jane Miller, British High Commissioner to Guyana, expressed her gratitude to the Government of Guyana, PAHO, and all those present and stated that the Guyana Defence Force would have assisted in completing the work at the health facility.

She informed those present that the entire grant for the completion of the Paramakatoi SMART Hospital was GY$1.6 billion.

Further, Miller added that the UK Government’s goals are fighting climate change and preventing ecological and biodiversity loss; thus, the program was carried out across the Caribbean countries, with seven countries chosen and around 415 sites examined.

She explained that she added that 71 facilities were reviewed in Guyana, and 5 facilities were chosen to be retrofitted to be stronger and more resilient facilities.

While highlighting a few successes of the implementation of the SMART Hospitals, the High Commissioner identified the recent events of Volcanic eruptions in Saint Vincent and the hurricane in Belize.

“We had upgraded some health facilities there (in Saint Vincent), and one of them was in the path of the ash. All the buildings around there were destroyed, and the one that remained was the smart hospital. And the reason is it had been retrofit to recognise what disasters would be in that area, and it was felt. Another example was in Belize. Facilities all around the area were destroyed, and the smart hospital retrofit through this project remains”, she said.

PAHO’s representative, Dr Escalada, stated that through this project, health facilities would become safer and more resilient to various hazards such as hurricanes, droughts, floods, and earthquakes, as well as more environmentally sustainable in terms of water, electricity, and power consumption.

Furthermore, he stated that while it is critical to improving functional and operational capacity to provide good quality and relevant healthcare services to the people of Guyana while focusing on structural and even non-structural aspects, their attention will now be shifted to reinforcing capacities at the primary healthcare level in terms of the country’s essential package of health services.

The facilities that have been upgraded to SMART facilities thus far are Diamond Diagnostic Centre, Lethem Regional Hospital, Lenora Cottage Hospital, and Mabaruma District Hospital.

While concluding, the ministry stated that among those present was the Director of Primary Health care, Dr Ertensia Hamilton; Hinterland Coordinator, Micheal Gouveia; Regional Health Officer, Dr Ravendra Dudhnath; Regional Chairman, Headley Pio; Paramakatoi Touchau, Barry Joe; Representatives and Tamica Noel, SMART Hospital Consultant from PAHO and the Guyana Defense Force and staff from the MoH.