Lawrence fires back at Opposition over criticism of health sector
2019 Budget Debate
…GPHC to get trauma centre
…doctorate and masters programmes for nurses
Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence on Thursday utilised her allotted 30-plus minutes during the 2019 National Budget Debates to square off with the Opposition over their criticism of the shortcomings in the health sector. In her rebuttal, the Minister outlined the milestones of her Ministry as well as the plans going forward into the 2019 fiscal year.
After coming under heavy criticism by colleagues from the other side of the isle over drug shortages and issues relating to the timely delivery of drugs and medical supplies, Minister Lawrence said the Opposition is only focusing on the negatives and failed to recognise the gains achieved by the sector.
In presenting the achievements, Minister Lawrence said the Government is heavily focused on transparency and accountability, and as such, they would have
established the Procurement Department at her Ministry.
She identified that the Department is still a work in progress, adding that the staff has been in two training sessions hosted by the Finance Ministry, National Procurement Tender Administration Board and the Public Procurement Commission where they were edified about the procurement procedures in keeping with the Procurement Act.
“Presently, a USAID Consultant is in Guyana to assess the current operating structure of the MOPH Procurement Unit, provide hands-on coaching support with National Procurement planning and contract management, and assist with [Terms of Reference] TORs for a procurement tracking system,” she told the House.
Additionally, she boasted about the strides made in the maternal and child health area, alluding to the upgrading of the Leonora Cottage Hospital’s Maternity Ward as well as the commissioning of the first Paediatric Critical Care Unit and the International Children’s Heart Foundation.
Further boasting, the Minister said seven successful kidney transplants were completed along with the first ever paired kidney transplant successfully done. She also told the National Assembly that her Ministry continues to build its human resource capacity with a particular focus in the field of nursing.
“This has resulted in a boost of 448 qualified nurses in the health system. Mr Speaker, for the first time, the Governments of Guyana and Brazil have jointly sponsored a Masters and Doctoral programme in Nursing. Eight students are benefiting from the Masters while five are pursuing the Doctorate in Nursing. This will further enhance our human resource capacity, and provide the platform for the building of sustainable healthy communities,” Lawrence explained. Currently studying at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, are Karen Roberts, Nicola Nero, Afesha Leacock-Marshall, Winifred Mardenborough-Razack and Nursing Education Co-Ordinator and Public Health Ministerial Adviser, Mandy La Fleur.
These five Guyanese women are to be the first in the Caribbean to attain Doctoral degrees in Nursing. This will be an asset to Guyana and will further enhance the country’s human resource capacity, and provide the platform for the building of sustainable healthy communities, according to the Minister.
The MoPH has been allocated some 11.9 per cent of the $300.7 billion 2019 National Budget, which amounts to $35.9 billion. According to the Minister, $524.6 million has been budgeted under the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), which includes the construction of a Trauma Centre.
“Mr Speaker, in 2019, in order to eliminate the inadequacies of the 18 bed Emergency Unit that exists at the Georgetown Hospital, the construction of a state-of-the-art trauma centre will be built in an effort to control patient flows, and to accommodate more patients seeking medical attention. The construction of the trauma centre will see an increase in the number of in-patient ward space, with the number of beds increasing from 483 to 1000, more outpatient clinic space and an increase in the number of theatres from five to 12, including two separate theatres for Obstetrics and Gynaecology,” she said.
She added that critical pieces of legislation would also be brought to the fore and those includes the Nurses and Midwives Bill, Health Protection and Promotion Bill, Regulations for the use of radiation sources and for the management of the Associated Radioactive Waste, and Amendment to Licensing of Health facilities Act.