Insulin was not available for diabetic children at the GPHC and other public hospitals

Dear Editor,

The shortage of drugs and medical supplies is a matter of life and death and not just a political problem as some may want to believe.

Yesterday we at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition were confronted with this reality in a very direct way: two children, juvenile diabetics (type 1 diabetics who have been on insulin all their life and who will always be on insulin), travelled from Lima Sands, Essequibo Coast with their mother to the GPHC only to be told that no insulin is available. They turned for help at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition and requested that we highlight their case. They further explained that while at the hospital they were informed by staff of the GPHC that insulin would be available in another four weeks (by May 8, 2017), their next clinic date.

Herein lies the problem: after a $605 million purchase of drugs and medical supplies by the GPHC and the ensuing scandal of this award to Ansa McAl without any proper procurement process, a vital drug like 70/30 insulin to ensure the health of our citizens is not available at our foremost health institution in Guyana.

We sought to verify through different sources the state of affairs, and we have concrete evidence to substantiate this claim. There was no insulin in the pharmacy or at the hospital’s bond. We can further confirm that there was no insulin at the Diamond Diagnostic Centre, the West Demerara Regional Hospital or any of the hospitals in the county of Berbice.

Thankfully, public spirited citizens who were present at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition financially supported the purchase of this essential drug for the children, going the extra mile by searching various private pharmacies in Georgetown to make the purchase (this was not a case of a beggar trying to dupe people or get money, so no excuses will be accepted).

The question is what will happen to the hundreds, if not thousands of Guyanese who suffer from this chronic non-communicable disease that requires a daily supply of insulin and other medications?

The Ministers of Public Health should stop making excuses, finding scapegoats and blaming their predecessors and other junior staff for this prevailing incompetence. Penalising staff, such as sending them on administrative leave, police investigations for theft and a robust public relations stunt are insufficient actions that will not deflect the nation’s attention away from the major drug shortage that exists in our health care system.

The APNU+AFC promised the Guyanese people the “good life”. Is this the “good life” that will cause this family to expend scarce resources to travel from the Essequibo Coast to Georgetown to obtain this service which should have been provided in the county of Essequibo itself?

This speaks volumes about the level of maladministration that is taking place in our country.

It is our sincere hope that by highlighting the plight of the family, action will be taken to ensure that the nation gets value for money. Answers are urgently needed.

Yours faithfully,

Juan Edghill

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