National Ophthalmology Hospital still to resume full operations

The National Ophthalmol-ogy Hospital at Port Mourant, Corentyne, is yet to resume full operations and PPP/C councillor Zamal Hussain has suggested that mechanisms be put in place to have the Region Six Regional Democratic Council (RDC) supervise the facility.

At the region’s statutory meeting yesterday, Hussain, who chairs the Regional Health Committee, explained that over 2,000 persons are waiting to do surgeries at the hospital. “Since three months ago we were given a commitment for the opening of the National Ophthalmology Hospital but to date the Public Health Ministry has not been successful in doing that. So, I am asking that if there could be some mechanisms in place [so] that we take the National Ophthalmology Hospital under the regional budget to ensure that this particular hospital is up and running,” he said.

“I think the Ministry of Public Health is failing to ensure this particular facility is up and running. This is three years plus and not a single cataract surgery is being done at the hospital,” he added, while noting that a lot of poor persons “need their eyes fixed” and they cannot afford to do so privately.

According to information gathered, to do a basic removal of cataract privately in Berbice is estimated to cost $70,000.

“We are not fixing the issue; taxation is coming heavy on the Guyanese populace and we need results from the government. If the populace is being taxed, the government has to ensure that tax payers money benefit the tax payers,” Hussain further stressed.

Earlier in the year, Stabroek News was told by regional health officials that minor surgeries were being done at the hospital. However, this publication was also told that rehabilitation works were being carried out to better improve the supporting services of the hospital.

Regional Chairman David Armogan suggested that the ophthalmologist stationed at the New Amsterdam Public Hospi-­tal be supported so as to clear up the backlog of patients. Armogan said, “We have a very good ophthalmologist at the New Amsterdam hospital. If we give that gentleman the requisite drugs to do the surgeries, I think he can do five to six surgeries per day because we have a good ophthalmology theatre at the New Amsterdam Hospital and [a] good doctor there, why not utilize the guy?”

The chairman further highlighted that money is being invested into constructing other health facilities, while the ones in operation, or those that need of rehabilitation, are not being properly taken care of. “We are looking at building a new maternity ward and building an extension of services and what we have we cannot take care of. That is wrong! You don’t invest money into other areas, try to offer more services and you can’t even deal with the ones you have presently,” he said. 

Armogan said since the RDC was elected three years ago it has been clamouring for the ophthalmology hospital to be reopened and for government to provide the drugs and other facilities for surgeries to take place “but all we are hearing is tomorrow, tomorrow.”

Additionally, Armogan noted that the Director of Health Services for Region Six Jevaughn Stephens has either been purposely misleading the RDC or he himself is being misinformed as to when the hospital is expected to be reopened. “Because he has come here to say it will be open in two weeks, then another occasion to say next month. So, is either he is misinformed or he is misinforming us,” he added.

The regional chairman further highlighted that the government of Guyana must be held accountable for the delay, since the hospital was a gift from the “Cuban government as a gift to CARICOM not only the government of Guyana.” He added, “We are failing our CARICOM brothers and sisters, especially Suriname. Lots of people from Suriname use to come there and have their eyes tested and get their cataract clean, so we are failing the CARICOM community.”

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