Medical professionals to be trained at state-of-the-art facilities in India, China – Pres Ali

…in preparation for transition to new hospitals in Guyana

President Dr Irfaan Ali

As the Guyana Government works on modernising the public health sector, local medical professionals will benefit from training stints at state-of-the-art facilities overseas, according to President Dr Irfaan Ali.
He was at the time speaking at a meeting with senior public health officials and Department Heads of regional hospitals across the country on Friday at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown.
The Head of State explained that these opportunities would allow Guyanese doctors and nurses to function in high-class facilities, preparing them to transition into the state-of-the-art hospitals that are currently being constructed across the country.
“We want to take a few key persons from the system and attach them under the ITEC programme in India and attach them in China to state-of-the-art facilities so that they can have an opportunity to spend a few weeks working in a similar environment so that that transfer is smoother, that transfer is more structurally integrated…,” the President posited.

A section of the medical professionals and senior officials in the public health sector at the meeting on Friday with President Dr Irfaan Ali

The Government plans to construct a total of 12 new modern hospitals and upgrade another six existing health facilities in various regions across Guyana. Among these hospitals are two specialised institutions – a US$161 million teaching hospital at New Amsterdam in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and a €149 million Paediatric and Maternal Hospital at Ogle, East Coast Demerara (ECD).
According to Ali, he wants the local medical professionals to be fully prepared to work in these institutions, especially the Paediatric and Maternal Hospital. “We have to prepare. I want that [Paediatric and Maternal Hospital] to be managed by our local capability as far as possible,” he stated.

Filling gaps
To this end, the Guyanese Leader underscored the need to identify gaps within the public health sector.
“Knowing the level of service that will come with that facility, [we have to know] what are the gaps now and ensuring that we provide the training and the adjustments in the system so when that facility comes into existence, we will be ready,” he said.
The President further noted that these new regional hospitals will require a greater degree of management and greater skillsets. Hence, he told the gathering of medical professionals from across the country that being in the public health sector, they were most equipped to identify and work out a strategy to effectively analyse and bridge these gaps.
“We have a challenge with human resource capacity in the country now. There is a shortage in almost every sector. If there are shortages in the healthcare sector, we have to find short and medium-term solutions whilst we train to meet the future requirements. There is no shortcut to this. It must be planned, structured and targeted, and all of us must be part of this decision-making or idea-development forum,” Ali stated.
Nursing training & upskilling doctors
The Government has already implemented several initiatives to fill existing gaps within the health sector, especially for nurses. To encourage interest in the profession, the Government is offering free training along with a stipend for persons wanting to become nurses and guaranteed jobs upon completion of the programme.
Additionally, there are two nursing schools – an $881 million modern training facility for nurses and nursing students at Suddie, Essequibo Coast in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) and another nursing school in Region Six that will be accredited by the University of West Indies (UWI) School of Nursing. UWI will also open a School of Medicine at the new teaching hospital being constructed in New Amsterdam.

With these two new nursing schools set to come on stream, President Ali is looking to tap into the expertise of doctors within the local health sector. This move, he pointed out, will also benefit the doctors.
“If there is a training certificate that we can give, especially [to] our junior doctors that allows them also to lecture in a nursing programme or other programmes, then we want to do that. We want to upgrade your skillset and allow you to be part of this programme so that it adds value and we build more local talent, and more training of trainers. We want also to look at key assets that we can train in healthcare administration and healthcare management. These are key things that we want to do,” he noted.

Bridging language barriers
Another initiative that the Head of State mentioned that will be pursued to enhance healthcare delivery is targeting language barriers. As part of an arrangement with the Cuban Government, cohorts of Guyanese medical students are sent for training in the Spanish-speaking island nation and in exchange, Cuban doctors come here for work.
Last year, through this partnership, some 192 Cuban Medical Brigade workers came to Guyana. Earlier this year, it was announced that Guyana plans to increase the number of workers under the Cuban Medical Brigade to at least 500 this year inclusive of doctors, nurses, and technicians.
With more Spanish-speaking professionals expected, President Ali plans to utilise the bilingual skills of Guyanese doctors trained in Cuba to effectively take full advantage of the medical capabilities of the Brigade workers.
“We want now to align your capability with the nurses and doctors who are Spanish-speaking in the system… so that we have …communication channel and support in terms of the capability that they bring and ensuring that that capability is not hindered because of language gaps and challenges,” he stated.
Nevertheless, with these massive investments the Government is making to enhance healthcare delivery throughout the country, the Guyanese Leader said it was expected that world-class health care is delivered to citizens.
“In making these investments, the population and the Government expect that in a short period, we must be able to deliver efficient, reliable and quality healthcare – world-class health care to the citizens of Guyana in the first instance…”
“Now, I don’t have any difficulty with your talent being utilised in Private Sector and regional health care but I want us all to agree that once we’re in the public healthcare system, there must be a minimum standard and a minimum set of deliverables and hours that constitute support to the public healthcare system. I’m not going to be the person who would run down doctors. I believe that we can find a healthy balance. I believe that we can work towards finding a solution that maximises your potential… [and] how your talent is maximised without injuring or without affecting the delivery of health care in the public health system,” President Ali stressed. (G8)