Support to health system to continue – Canada envoy

Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana Dr Nicole Giles has given the assurance that Canada will continue to provide support to Guyana’s health system and revealed plans to improve the Canada-Guyana Medical Partnership.

She made the statements on Monday when she paid a courtesy call on Public Health Minister Dr George Norton at his Brickdam office.

During discussions, the Canadian envoy said that the medical accord between the two countries will be upgraded to allow more medical students to be accredited, more surgeries performed and doctors trained, a report from the Government Information Agency (GINA) said.

In response, Dr Norton expressed gratitude for the partnership without which he said Guyana could not benefit from the kinds of services being offered. Speaking of his new portfolio, the minister said he is currently conducting an assessment of the entire health system, with support from the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation, regional health workers and other stakeholders. To this end, he is currently visiting health centres and district hospitals to examine the systems in place and identify the immediate needs.

Dr Norton said to date he has only found slight variations in the functioning of the various health boards and authorities from that of the regional system. The minister also said he expects that after the upcoming Local Government Elections the regional health system would advance as persons would be better informed of their duties. He further noted that the health system would be enhanced if it is managed by persons with skills in hospital administration and further opined that district hospitals would be better run by management committees whether in an advisory or executive capacity. Building repairs and adequate equipment would also need to be properly addressed, he said.

Junior health minister Dr Karen Cummings, who also attended the meeting, endorsed Dr Norton’s statements. She observed that the lack of available equipment and medicine constrain health workers in the conduct of their duties. In the light of this, she expects the partnership with Canada to enable better working conditions and services at the health centres.

Meanwhile, in her remarks the Canadian diplomat said the empowerment of communities would make the regional system much stronger. Giles pointed out that in Canada, the community-based approach was found to be about the clinic which has the right personnel and the resources to work with it. She noted too that the High Commission’s perspective to the approach suggested by Dr Norton would be very welcomed by the Guyana-Canada Medical Partnership Coalition.

Giles also said the coalition would have a compendium of 40 Canadian Medical Organisations which are largely privately funded, and which will come to Guyana to deliver medical services. She further said the High Commission plays a facilitating and coordinating role, which is why the coalition was founded. According to the diplomat, Canada’s role would also be to provide guidelines and approval for the actual administration at hospitals and clinics to protect the health and welfare of citizens.

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