President fully back at work

– press officer

David Granger

President David Granger is fully back at work following his return on Tuesday to Guyana from Cuba, where he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and commenced treatment, according to Deputy Director of Press Affairs at the Ministry of the Presidency (MotP), Ariana Gordon.

“President Granger has resumed his presidential duties immediately upon his return to Guyana as is customary,” she told Stabroek News yesterday when asked whether the president has fully resumed work.

On Tuesday, Granger, 73,  in the company of First Lady Sandra Granger returned home from Havana. The president left Guyana three weeks ago for what was revealed to be a medical investigation which eventually led to a diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma is a cancer that originates in the lymphatic system, the disease-fighting network spread throughout the body. In Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, tumours develop from lymphocytes — a type of white blood cell.

It says that “Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more common than the other general type of lymphoma — Hodgkin lymphoma” and that many different subtypes of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma exist. “Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma are among the most common subtypes,” it states.

According to doctors, age is a huge risk factor in developing the cancer as persons over 60 years old are at an increased risk. But there is good news for persons suffering with the cancer since  medical research states that there have been “significant “advances in diagnosis and treatment of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma that have helped improve the prognosis for people with this disease”.

The stage of the cancer affecting the President has not been disclosed in the two dispatches that came from the Guyana Embassy in Havana on his medical state. Stabroek News during the discourse with Gordon yesterday inquired about this. In response said she said that “it is for President Granger to disclose” that information.

When Granger left the country his duties were performed by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo. Stabroek News was able to confirm that he is now back to performing his prime ministerial functions.

Article 96 of the Constitution makes provisions for the discharge of functions of the president during absence, illness and physical incapacity. “Whenever the President is absent from Guyana or considers it desirable so to do by reason of illness or any other cause he may, by direction in writing, authorise any member of the Cabinet, being an elected member of the National Assembly, to perform such of the functions of the office of President as he may specify and the person so authorised shall perform those functions until his authority is revoked by the President or until the functions are resumed by the President,” Section 96(1) states.

It goes further to explain what happens if the president is unable to authorize a person to discharge his functions.

“If the President is incapable by reason of physical or mental infirmity of discharging the functions of his office and the infirmity is of such a nature that the President is unable to authorise another person under this article to perform those functions— (a) the Prime Minister; or (b) during any period when there is no Prime Minister or the Prime Minister is absent from Guyana or is, by reason of physical or mental infirmity, unable to perform the functions of his office, such other Minister, being an elected member of the National Assembly, as the Cabinet shall elect; or (c) if there is no Prime Minister and no Cabinet, the Chancellor, shall perform the functions of the office of President…,” it states.

Any person performing presidential functions shall cease to do so if he is notified by the President that the President is about to resume those functions, the Constitution states.

MotP on October 29 issued a release saying that the President and First Lady were travelling to Cuba and would return on November 11, the day before local government elections. No reason was given then for the visit.

The following day, after a number of questions had been raised on social media, another press release accompanied by a short video message of the president speaking just before departure, was issued.

In that video clip the President had noted that he had  travelled twice to Trinidad and Tobago and had done his annual medical check-up in May where he had been given a clean bill of health. 

“If I take you back over the last six months, I went to Trinidad and Tobago to do my annual medical examination which is normally done in August.  I went in May because of the Congress of my party and the impending Local Government Elections,” he said in the release. 

However, on his return to work, the President said that he started to experience certain symptoms which were persistent, and took the decision to travel back to Trinidad to revisit the tests that were done in May. MotP had not reported that the President had travelled back to Trinidad to revisit the tests.

“At that time, they discovered some symptoms which needed further investigation so I just agreed with that diagnosis and made arrangements to go to Cuba for further investigations.  At this time, there is no clear indication of disorder or what the nature of the disorder is.  It is a question of investigation and I think I can get the best advice in Cuba,” he said, according to release. 

It is unclear why the President’s doctor in Trinidad had not referred him for cancer screening which later saw a swift diagnosis in Cuba.

While he does not suffer from a particular ailment, President Granger had said on October 30 that out of an abundance of caution, he took the decision to travel to Cuba to have the relevant medical investigation done.

“The Guyanese public should be assured that once those investigations are complete they would be kept abreast with the health of the President of the Republic,” he said in the release.

It was later revealed that Granger would not return to Guyana on the date planned. All that was said was that doctors did not give him clearance to travel.

The president’s condition was revealed on November 14 when the Guyana Embassy in Havana disclosed the diagnosis and said that he had undergone surgery and begun a second phase of treatment earlier that day.

The release explained that upon arrival in Cuba, the president was received by a Cuban Medical Team which commenced the first phase of medical examination. Subsequent to a series of medical tests, the President was diagnosed as suffering from Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and was placed in the Centro de Investigaciones Medico Quirurgicas (CIMEQ) on Thursday, November 1, where he underwent a surgical procedure. On Tuesday, November 6, the President, was discharged from CIMEQ and returned to his official accommodation, the embassy said.

A second phase of treatment was done on November 14, 2018 and resulted in a short period of hospitalization.

The embassy added that the president was “in fine form and a good frame of mind” and that he was expected to fully recover.

On November 19, it was disclosed that the president had completed a first round of chemotherapy and had been given permission by his doctors to travel home the following day. It was also disclosed that he may have to return to Cuba for further treatment.

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