Situated hundreds of miles away from the capital city of Georgetown lies an Amerindian village called Masakenari (Gunns Village), Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), home to the Indigenous Wai Wai people.
Access to healthcare services in emergencies is limited due to the remoteness of the village, thereby posing a risk to patients.
Recognising this serious challenge, the Health Ministry launched a Telemedicine Programme, targeting the remotest villages in Guyana including Masakenari and due to this intervention, four lives have been saved to date.
This is according to Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony during the recommissioning of a community health post in Wallaba Village, Region One (Barima-Waini).
“The persons were sick and because we had the system in place, they were able to call out to Georgetown and when they called out to Georgetown, we were able to assess the patient and then send in a medevac to transport them,” he explained to a gathering in Wallaba, a Department of Public Information (DPI) report stated.
Telemedicine is a two-way, real-time interactive communication between a patient and healthcare provider at different sites. It is supported by audio and video equipment and integrated medical devices that empower clinicians to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients remotely and is beneficial in Guyana’s case
The telemedicine programme was officially launched in 2022, with four Amerindian communities in Region Nine piloting the programme. It was later expanded to 25 communities in Regions One, Seven, Eight, Nine and 10 with an allocation of $1.8 billion in the Health Ministry’s $84.5 billion budget in 2023.
According to Minister Anthony, additional sites will be established with financial resources approved in the 2024 National Budget.
“In this year’s budget, we plan to do at least another 50 sites and therefore, we are working with the regional health authorities to make sure that we can select, that would be the main beneficiaries of these types of service,” he is quoted as saying in the DPI report.
Each telemedicine site will be equipped with the requisite technological devices, which provide Community Health Workers (CHWs) stationed in the respective villages with 24-hour access to specialists from the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).