Guyana has a health care problem

Dear Editor,

Data from the CIA World Fact Book for 2017 revealed that life expectancy at birth for Guyanese stands at 68.4 years, which is low compared to the WHO 2015 global average of 71.4 years. Such statistics indicate that there is a health care problem in Guyana.

Health care is a fundamental right of every citizen, and Guyana has both government-run hospitals as well private ones, but they provide inadequate medical care. Government desperately needs to bring the health care situation under control. And as such, the factors driving it need to be identified and eliminated so as to raise Guyana’s health care standard to match that of Western countries. It is no secret that our health care suffers from lack of funds, lack of skills, lack of medical facilities, unmotivated health care workers, corruption, and politics, among a slew of others. Make no mistake, the APNU+AFC government knows what needs to be done to bring this crisis under control, but it turns a blind eye and focuses on the health care needs of its ministers. Government travels abroad for quality medical care while its people have no choice but to use the deficient health care this country provides. Moreover, government even pursues foreign medical insurance. Editor, how can this not be inequality? How can this not be inhumane? And how can this not be morally wrong?

Although, government is heartless, Mr Joseph Harmon, the Minister of State attempted to defend government’s position by contending that ministers needed quality medical care. Such a posture invites the obvious question: aren’t all Guyanese deserving of quality medical care? Absolutely!  Mr Harmon clearly treats Guyanese as if they are undeserving. Government has a notorious track record in this regard. For instance, it allowed the working poor a wage increase of only 5%, but awarded a whopping 50% increase for itself.

Government also fuels this crisis through political patronage. Further, government fuels this crisis by fast-tracking millions of dollars in drug purchases without tender, and by storing our drug supplies in a building it rented from an alleged political associate. Additionally, government squanders scarce dollars in spite of the fact that a lack of funds is a potent factor fuelling the health care crisis. Editor, government rents a sprawling mansion to the tune of half a million dollars per month. It even poured millions of dollars into a green fence at the Ministry of the  Presidency. It also granted millions of scarce dollars to fund scholarships for serving ministers, and wastes exorbitant sums on frequent foreign travel.

Sadly, corruption is a hallmark of this society, and it also drives this crisis. All in all, government and its people have lost faith in Guyana’s health care system. Government needs to be reminded that the economic progress which is desperately needed to lift Guyanese out of abject poverty is directly dependent on the health of its people. Government needs to do the right thing.  Last but not least, government needs to know that Guyanese deserve the same quality health care as the one its members can enjoy from Ireland. After all, we are all human beings.

Yours faithfully,

Annie Baliram

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