Port Health Officer was unprofessional

Dear Editor,

I would like to highlight the unwelcome treatment I received at the Canawaima Ferry Stelling by a Ministry of Public Health staffer – the Port Health Officer ‒ on July 18 and July 21, 2017.   The Port Health Officer was stationed at the ferry stelling to check on the yellow fever immunization cards for all travellers who were crossing to Suriname. I was greeted with an unpleasant and obnoxious attitude from this officer.  She was yelling and trying to show her authority with a boisterous attitude.

She was very unprofessional and was seen chewing gum when attending to passengers. Is this how we want to promote tourism in Guyana by bullying people? We fully understand that she is there to do her job, but this should have been done in the most professional manner.

This disrespect will be paramount in the minds of all travellers who were clearly stressed out by the poor quality of service provided by the Canawaima Ferry Stelling in Guyana and the Ministry of Public Health Port Health Official.

Travellers who got their yellow fever vaccines privately were harassed by the officer. She said that their vaccination and immunization cards were not valid if they came from a private institution or were missing a stamp from MPH. I can attest to the fact that we were back and forth at the ministry to update our cards, but were told there were no cards available. What else can we do?

We told the Port Health Officer that the ministry had already given its quota of vaccines for the day hence we had to seek it at a private institution.  The Port Health Officer said that couldn’t be true and we were lying! What utter nonsense! Commuters visit the Ministry of Health as early as 6 am to get this vaccine and only the first 50 persons are given it on any given working day, so if someone has to travel urgently to Suriname, are we to understand that passengers can’t go and get this vaccine privately?

And are we to understand that immunization cards from a private hospital are not authentic even though they were correctly endorsed by a certified medical practitioner?

Guyana can do so much better to boost the tourism and hospitality sector.

I hope the relevant authorities can provide some needed customer service training to all Port Officers on how to deal professionally with people.

For starters, please look at the professionalism in our neighbouring country Suriname.

Yours faithfully,

Leon Itwaru

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