Minister of Health, Dr Bheri Ramsaran has charged the new Berbice Regional Health Authority (BRHA) board to tackle childhood non-communicable diseases and to engage stakeholders in both regions Five and Six to inform the operations of hospitals under its purview.
Rose Hall Town businessman and former president of the Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce,
Poonai Bhigroog has been appointed chairman of the board. Bhigroog has replaced Manager of the New Building Society’s Berbice branch, Anil Beharry.
Dr Ramsaran installed the new board which comprises 12 persons. Speaking to Stabroek News after the inauguration ceremony, the minister thanked those who served on the board last year and explained the need for annual rotation of the board members. “The previous board did an exceptionally good job, but every year the board is rejuvenated, re-energized; it allows for the opportunity to bring in new blood and fresh ideas,” he said.
The priority on the board’s agenda this year is collaboration with the Ministry of Education to tackle non-communicable diseases from its early stages.
“We are asking them this year to make a special effort to reach out to the Ministry of Education so we can get into the schools to propagate the health message so that we can fight against non-communicable diseases,” the minister said, explaining that the focus would be on childhood diabetes and obesity. He suggested that the board address these issues via the schools’ canteen policies. The board was also charged with targeting smoking and alcohol consumption among youths.
Further, the minister suggested that the board install management committees at the various hospitals under its jurisdiction. Pointing to the recorded successes of the Skeldon Hospital’s Management Committee, Ramsaran said that is an avenue that needs to be explored at the other hospitals.
“Skeldon hospital has a good management committee; they do things quickly – they work with the private sector and get things done,” he remarked. According to Ramsaran, the installation of management committees will “bring to bear the essence of the wider societies in some structured fashion on the functioning of these hospitals.”
He also pointed out that the BRHA encompasses both regions Five and Six, a fact he believes has been ignored by previous boards. “The BRHA is not confined to Region 6, this is a popular misconception,” he said, adding that the intention is “to have unity between the regions, part and parcel of the Health Sector Reform identified years ago.”
To this end, Ramsaran said he has instructed the board to “look around, walk around and interact with the grass root workers so that you can come back and give guidance to the health sector.”
“Hold town house type meetings at Town Hall in New Amsterdam, civic centres at Hampshire and Corriverton on the Corentyne, and other places that can house large groups of people so that they will be able to interact directly with people who will be gathering at these very large meetings,” he said.
It was also recommended to the new BRHA board to host live call-in programmes on the various television stations in the region to reach a larger audience. Ramsaran said the programmes are “so useful where issues are brought up and you have a wider audience. Thousands of people are listening, hearing and can call in and share ideas.”
The members who will serve alongside Bhigroog on the board are Avia Lindie – representative of the Berbice Chamber of Commerce and Development Association; Dr Zulfikar Buz – senior personnel at the Georgetown Public Hospital; Paul Ramrattan – REO of Region Six; Rion Peters – Vice Chairman of Region Five; Joey Downes, Hamant Narain – representatives of the Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce; Wanetta Scipio, nurse; Ram Mangru – Guyana Public Service Union representative; Barbara Pilgrim Roberts – former mayor of New Amsterdam; Dr. Vishwa Mahadeo – CEO of BRHA; and Dr Vishalya Sharma – Medical Superintendent of the New Amsterdam Hospital.