The challenges faced by medical personnel within South Rupununi, Region Nine were among matters raised by community leaders and residents during a Ministerial Outreach, from May 5 to 7, GINA said.
The Ministerial team comprised Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Valerie Garrido-Lowe, Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Annette Ferguson, and Minister within the Ministry of Health, Dr. Karen Cummings and various technical staff.
Aishalton Councillor, Christopher James raised the village’s concerns with the ministerial team. He said that Indigenous trained nurses often decline to return to the communities to serve. Over recent years, the unreliable supply of drugs has also been affecting them as well.
Another Aishalton resident queried the lack of a dental technician to serve in the village and surrounding communities. Addressing the issue of medical supplies, Cummings said that this matter was being rectified. The residents were told that medical supplies are dispatched to the region every quarter, and that the Public Health Ministry’s Materials Management Unit is being re-engineered to address delays in the supply chain.
The residents were also told that the dental technician’s post will be filled because a former staff has indicated an interest in returning, once the Public Service Commission follows due procedures.
The issue of young doctors returning to serve their communities was also addressed by Hinterland Coordinator, Michael Gouveia. “It is recognised that one of our own can serve us best …but it has a flip side. If we keep these young doctors, allow them to stay in Aishalton all the time, then we will definitely stymie their personal development, to become specialists, for example.”
It was noted that with around 500 young doctors, all must have the opportunity to serve in the hinterland, as well as on the coast, hence a one-year hinterland stint will be done by all doctors.
Additionally the Hinterland Coordinator told stakeholders that an Indigenous Health Unit, which he heads, coordinates medical evacuations, and conducts medical outreaches including surgical interventions. The most recent medical outreach done in Lethem resulted in 71 surgical interventions, he said. “We are bringing a range of medical services that are not available here. VIA, eye care, ophthalmology services, we are bringing ultra-sound and such like.”
Meanwhile, James also spoke of a key bridge, linking the Aishalton Village, which is in urgent need of repairs and could be washed away unless fixed. Stakeholders were informed by the Regional Executive Officer; Carl Parker that the bridge was catered for in this year’s National Budget and will be repaired shortly, GINA said.