Please permit me to respond to an article published in the Stabroek News on Tuesday November 21, 2016, headlined ‘PPP concerned over non-placement of Cuba-trained doctors.’ This article is riddled with inaccuracies that the Ministry of Public Health feels compelled to address, in order to set the record straight with accurate information on the placement of the Cuban-trained doctors in Guyana.
The Regional Health Services (RHS) Department of the Ministry of Public Health is primarily responsible for the delivery of the best quality health care and health care services across the 10 administrative regions of Guyana. As such, it is also within its mandate to ensure that all public health institutions regardless of their level are adequately staffed with appropriate personnel. The RHS Department is principally responsible for the placement of doctors throughout the 10 administrative regions of Guyana.
A two-day orientation session was held at the Regency Suites from Thursday, October 13 to Friday, October 14, 2016 at which 79 Guyanese Cuban trained doctors and one doctor who was trained in China attended. The 80 doctors met both Ministers as well as other senior officials of the Ministry of Public Health, and were given a concise outline of the functioning of the ministry and its key programme areas.
In response to the PPP’s concern that “…nearly 100 Cuban-trained doctors are still awaiting placement although they have completed their compulsory one-year internship,” the Ministry of Public Health would like to emphatically state that there are no Cuban trained doctors awaiting placement.
In 2015, 151 doctors completed 18 months of rotation with their institutional registration. Currently, all of these doctors are fully registered with the Guyana Medical Council and are strategically placed throughout the entire public health sector.
At the time of writing this letter, all 80 Guyanese Cuban trained doctors who recently returned to Guyana are registered, and have received their institutional licence to practice for 18 months in different locations; namely, Suddie Hospital, West Demerara Regional Hospital, Georgetown Public Hospital, New Amsterdam Regional Hospital and Linden Regional Hospital. In addition, our primary health care system will be boosted in the areas of placement in Regions 2, 3, 4, 6, and 10. These doctors have officially started working since Monday, November 7, 2016. The Public Service Commission (PSC) appointed these 79 doctors on Tuesday, November 1, 2016 and the final doctor will collect his registration from the Medical Council by the end of November 2016.
The Ministry of Public Health is working assiduously to fill the infrastructural gaps and build capacity in relation to its human resources through the process of health-system strengthening with a focus on equity and equality in delivery and access to public health care. The addition of the 80 doctors will certainly improve the efficiency and effectiveness in health care delivery throughout Guyana. Timeliness in health care being an important component in the reduction of mortality, the population’s access to more doctors will have a positive impact on the system.
The MOPH in its placement of these doctors focused on areas where they resided previously; hence, persons were placed closer to their homes. Suffice to say that the delivery of and access to universal primary health care remain national priorities of the APNU+AFC government as well as the MOPH.
In Guyana, there are no Guyanese Cuban trained doctors currently in need of placement. Therefore, the only concern the PPP should have is that of being completely uninformed on the true situation regarding the placement of our Guyanese Cuban trained doctors in Guyana. It would be better if the PPP arms itself with valid and reliable information before making spurious comments in the public domain.
Dr Kay Shako
Regional Health Services