Junior Health Minister meets officials, visits facility

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La Parfaite Harmonie Health Centre

… as region hurriedly rectifies problems

BY SHEMUEL FANFAIR

Following a series of reports highlighted in Guyana Times about the deplorable environment and conditions at the La Parfaite Harmonie Health Centre, Minster within the Public Health Ministry, Dr Karen Cummings, led a team of officials to Region Three (Essequibo-Islands-West-Demerara) on Thursday.
Regional officials and the Minister engaged in an hour-long meeting at the West Demerara Regional Hospital (WDRH) which included Hospital Administrator Sanjah Persaud and Warehouse Manager at the Public Health Ministry’s Materials

Minister Karen Cummings touring the facilities

Management Unit (MMU), Sihouette Craig. The regional officers present were Deputy Regional Executive Officer (DREO) Jennifer Ferreira-Dougall, Medical Superintendent and Acting Regional Health Officer, Dr Bibi Jabar and Inter Ministerial Sector Coordinator, Seechan.
At the meeting, Dr Cummings called of the Region Three officials to explain the region’s mechanisms for bush clearing at health centres and problems associated

The trench near the health centre clear

with timely drug procurement at those facilities. She heard that often times, requests to MMU are only made by health centres when the supply of drugs is finished and that weeding is done at the facilities every three months.
“We don’t want bushes growing, we must be proactive [rather than] reactive and if three months is too long, maybe we can [weed] twice in a quarter because it’s health; we can get vector bourne diseases,” Minister Cummings underscored.

DREO responds
The DREO in explaining the process, told the Minister that the Regional Health

Weeding wonders: Bushed cleared at the La Parfaite Harmonie Health Centre

Officer, who is on vacation leave, would normally visit the health centres in the region. Commending his work, Ferreira-Dougall added that under the RHO’s watch, contracts were given out for bush clearing works and refuted reports that the La Parfaite Harmonie Health Centre was weeded since last year.
“Maintenance for the health centres comes from the RHO. The Parfaite Harmonie Health Centre was weeded as late as June but somebody said to the papers that it was not weeded since November; that’s not true. Dr Jabar can show you that the contract was awarded for $242,000 [for some of the health centres]. The thing is that the RHO normally would visit those health centres and then bring the information to the region and we will ask them to get an estimate and since I’m here since April, a number of health centres were cleaned since June,” she clarified.
Dr Cummings however urged for more efficient operations at the region’s medical centres. “We really want to step [the weeding] up to twice [per quarter]. Especially if money is there, we don’t it to go back into the consolidated fund,” the junior Public Health Minister stressed.

Drug shortages
Acting Regional Health Officer, Dr Jabar informed the Minister that there are concerns with feedback between medical facilities and the MMU. It was noted that once the Warehouse Manager is not present, requests are not being fulfilled. Craig however indicated that there is a Warehouse Supervisor who can sign off on the requests. Dr Jabar expressed that the there is need for a regional procurement officer to oversee requests for drug purchases which can reduce the drug shortages at health centres in the region.

Who has responsibility?
The health centres and health posts are supposed to be managed by the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) system and it was explained that the closest NDC to Parfaite Harmonie is the Malgretout NDC. However, the Parfaite Harmonie community has been incorporated into the NDC system which meant that its health centre is managed by the regional administration.

Bushed cleared in time for visit
Guyana Times was told of undesirable washroom facilities, problems with access to water and a bushy compound. Upon the Minister’s visit to the Parfaite Harmonie facility on Thursday, the bush and drainage networks were completely cleared. Minister Cummings gave an undertaken to ensure that the problems at the facility are addressed.
“The Ministry of Public Health’s mantra is to make sure we have healthy people and healthy communities. The doctor at the Parfaite Health Centre would need a pharmacy assistant. We have made a note of that and we are hoping to address that very soon,” she noted.
She also stated that she is pleased with the operations at the centre but cautioned that there is still room for improvement.
“There are gaps that need to be addressed but we are working assiduously to ensure that everybody enjoys the good life and that health takes up in rightful place,” she stressed.
Meanwhile, the DREO asserted that work in the region will continue, suggesting that more attention will be paid the regional medical facilities.
“We will be visiting the health centres in Region Three so that we [would not] be refuting statements that are not 100 per cent true. Region Three will not stop at anything for any papers writing, the Minister is here and she can vouch for that, Ferreira-Dougall expressed.
She noted that the problems at the Parfaite Health Centre will be rectified by early next week.

Conditions
Minister Cummings had expressed disappointment over the problems that were unearthed at the centre. When this publication revisited the facility on Wednesday, it was observed that the bushes on the southern side, beyond the fence were cleared and by Thursday, the yard was completely cleared.
In addition, the standpipe was repaired with pipes being connected to the building.
The residents and patients accessing services at the La Parfaite Harmonie Health Centre had complained bitterly about the condition of the washroom facilities, water access and the general bushy compound. Patients berated the level of healthcare they were receiving, saying the members of staff were never on time and when they did arrive to work, they had taken at least one hour before they had begun attending to patients.
When this publication had visited the health-care facility on Tuesday, it was observed that the grass in the yard was overgrown, measuring as high as approximately three feet in some areas. The washroom stall had door and the toilet did not flush.
In addition to a bushy compound, there was also garbage at the back of the yard that was poorly disposed of. Also, there were no garbage bins in the compound while the water tank and trestle were surrounded by bushy vegetation, with no water flowing through the standpipe in the front of the yard. By Thursday’s visit, the majority of these problems were rectified, following reports carried in this newspaper.