Even as 80 newly-trained health care professionals from the Technical Division of Health Sciences Education prepare to embark on a new career path, they and their coordinators are calling for an increase in the $5,000 a month stipend for trainees.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony held at the National Cultural Centre on Tuesday, coordinator of the X-Ray Technician Pro-gramme, Norma Odle voiced concerns over the paltry sum students were given, saying that it just was not enough.
She cited the case of a promising student from the hinterland who had to leave the programme during the last phase because of financial difficulties, pointing out that it was a loss not only to the young woman but to the medical technician fraternity.
“Some students have not managed even with some help from family… consideration should be made to increasing the stipend to a more realistic figure,” she said, receiving thunderous applause from the students who were all nodding in agreement.
The students were chosen from regions across the country and trained as technicians in the areas of Pharmacy Assistant, X-ray, Medical Laboratory and Environ- mental Health Assistant. The twelve-month programme commenced on the 1st of March last year and wrapped up on the same day this year.
The graduates will now be deployed to serve at government medical facilities throughout Guyana where only two weeks ago 28 other students trained in community health were seconded.
Director of Health Sciences Education at the Ministry of Health, Noel Holder told Stabroek News that the critical areas that the lab technicians will be working in will assist greatly in boosting healthcare for Guyanese.
“It has helped to boost the quality of care that is given across Guyana,” he said, adding that the programme was part of government’s commitment to accessible and affordable healthcare to all.
Meanwhile, the graduates have been guaranteed jobs at healthcare facilities even as they give the mandatory three years service as stipulated in their contracts.
Minister of Health Dr Bheri Ramsaran was absent from the graduation, on account of other pressing government business, and in his absence the feature address was delivered by Permanent Secretary in his ministry, Leslie Cadogan.
He charged the students to be exemplary medical servants and added that in the course of their work they should never forget that their patients are the most important persons. Cadogan also chided the group for tardiness which caused over half an hour’s delay in the commencement of the ceremony.
Region Three student Calvin Roberts captured both the best academic and best graduating student awards. He is a product of the Medical Laboratory Technician Programme. He told Stabroek News that he, too, wishes that the stipend would be increased for future students.
The somewhat shy 18-year-old said that life during his studies was very difficult and he had to sacrifice many material things to achieve the accolades he received.
“My Mom especially worked very hard to make this possible for me. It would not have been a reality if she had not many days endured working as a domestic just so that I can get the passage to come to the city to complete these classes.
I believe the $5,000 is inadequate and should be increased because in one day, just on materials needed it can all be gone,” he said. Roberts’ plan after his contract is over is to work and attend the University of Guyana to pursue further studies in the same discipline.