No health worker has been assigned to the Laluni Health Centre despite Junior Health Minister Dr. Bheri Ramsaran saying that a replacement should have been provided when the previous holder of the post went on a two-year training course.
In September, in an article headlined ‘Waiting in vain for health care at Laluni,’ Stabroek News had reported on an incident where women with babies and young children waited long hours for a monthly visit by a medical team.
The team never turned up and the women had complained that at times the team was very late. They called for a health worker to be stationed in the rural community.
In the farming community, which is located along the Linden/Soesdyke highway, medical care is scarce and once every three weeks a doctor and nurses are dispatched to the health centre to treat residents.
Most of those who seek this service are mothers with babies and young children. In the past months, the medical team has been arriving very late or not at all, residents had complained to this newspaper during a visit to the community.
They said that there had been a nurse stationed at the Health Centre but she left for training. For some of the women, it is a six-mile trek to the health centre and back home. They called for a medical officer to be stationed in the community. “No medicine, nothing you nah get in here,” one upset young mother had said. “In here is not a place you can go and catch bus and go [to a medical centre]” she added. This newspaper had attempted to get a response from Ramsaran but was unable to reach him.
However, he told the Guyana Chronicle that the Ministry is concerned whenever citizens experience difficulties in accessing services at the centres countrywide. He had said that there is “always” a Community Health Worker (CHW) at Laluni to ensure the functioning of the facility. Up until recently, he explained, the CHW at Laluni, Claudia Rodrigues, was placed on another upgrade programme; unfortunately without adequate planning for a replacement.
Expressing outrage regarding her removal, Ramsaran was quoted as saying that “a CHW is being upgraded and I am happy about that, but those responsible should have seen to it that a replacement was provided.” He added: “Once again my policy instructions and advice have not been followed.”
According to the report, the Minister said that the training division, in its evaluation of the entrants, did not recognize that a replacement was not allocated for Laluni, thereby creating a gap. “I am dismayed that such forward thinking was not exercised to identify a replacement; measures need to be taken when such ill advised actions are made,” he stressed.
Ramsaran had pointed out that a similar situation existed in St.Cuthbert’s Mission, but a Medex, Emelda Williams, was stationed at the Health Centre, while the CHW was on a training programme. Ramsaran had said that the scheduled clinic was postponed only on one occasion at Laluni.
He extended apologies to the affected residents on behalf of the Ministry of Health and the Government and said that efforts were being made to resolve the situation. From the 28 CHWs which are currently being trained, one will be dispatched to the area, he said. Additionally, a CHW trainee from Laluni will be identified and placed on the next training programme. Responding to the issue of medication, he had said that whenever the medical teams are dispatched to the centres, they are amply equipped with the necessary medicine to distribute to those in need.
According to a resident, when the medical team made its scheduled visit to the community last month, following the publication of the article in this newspaper, members were upset with the women because the matter was reported in the media. “They vex up with the people them, how the people talking about them,” the resident said.