“Health Matters” for Guyana Government

Dear Editor,
I am glad that health issues are continuing to be a major concern of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Government. I say this based on the fact that the Health Ministry made the announcement that Guyanese can “Get screened for diabetes from 1 of 400 facilities.” The word from the Technical Officer for Diabetes at the Chronic Diseases Unit, Dr Nandishaw Ramsingh, is: “We have at least 400 facilities nationwide. This includes health centres, health posts, and hospitals. (Therefore) We are encouraging people to visit their nearest health facility. One single screening by way of a blood test, we can at least be able to tell what your blood sugar levels are like.”
And why is this important, and thus the urging to be screened? Well, we need to realize that diabetes is a major public health problem that is approaching epidemic proportions globally. Worldwide, the prevalence of chronic noncommunicable diseases is increasing at an alarming rate. The statistics show that about 18 million people die every year from cardiovascular disease, for which diabetes and hypertension are major predisposing factors. Today, more than 1.7 billion adults worldwide are overweight, and 312 million of them are obese. It gets more ominous, as at least 155 million children worldwide are overweight or obese. No wonder a diabetes epidemic is underway.
I take note that “In observance of Caribbean Wellness Day, the Health Ministry (was) encouraging the general populace to get screened for diabetes, and utilise the services available at some 400 facilities countrywide.” My word is that there needs to be an awareness irrespective of special days and occasions. Now that the opportunities are so plenteous and facilities are countrywide, there should no letting-up from the populace. After all, early diagnosis is the way to go.
Editor, this kind of Medicare from the Health Ministry must be commended. It is testimony to the monetary investment and strategic planning from our leaders. I point our Guyanese folk to the fact that what is unfolding is not to be trivialised. The details show that the emphasis “…on combatting non-communicable diseases, especially diabetes, (is part of a holistic approach)…a one-stop shop initiative where persons can access specialised services, diabetic care, and check-ups.” This is all about trying “…to meet people on the ground, and develop solutions to bring their conditions under control.” And it is good to know that this is “In collaboration with Mount Sinai, guidelines (that) are also being developed.”
This twin approach, according to Dr Ramsingh, is that “We want our Guyanese guidelines to be known and to be shown that we can be able to utilise this tool to screen persons, treat them, and have diabetes under control.”
Programme Director at Mount Sinai, Josue Alcantará, said, “We’re trying to tackle the issues with health workforce in making sure that we not only train amazing personnel here in healthcare workers, but that we’re able to retain them and have this amazing workforce that is the basis of the system.”
I repeat: We must all capitalise on what is being offered, especially seeing that it is of high quality.
I appeal to readers to realise there is every reason to take the requisite steps now. The figures show that there is a need to act, and not wait. According to an estimate from the International Diabetes Federation, the number of people with diabetes is 246 million (with 46% of all those affected in the 40–59 age group), and this will likely increase to 380m by 2025. No wonder the PPP/C Government’s health sector in 2023 was allocated a mammoth $84 billion to ensure there be rapid infrastructural development, as well as better access to primary healthcare.

Yours truly,
HB Singh