Over 13,000 surgeries in 2022 slash current backlog – Dr Anthony

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony

To clear the existing surgical backlog, the Health Ministry was able to execute a whopping 13,691 surgeries in 2022.
Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony made this revelation during his budget debate earlier this week. He noted that it is the highest number of surgeries done at the Georgetown Public Hospital in a single year. This was 3,000 more than the number of surgeries done in 2019.
“Last year, the GPHC pioneered several new surgical interventions. This includes the first breast reconstruction surgery, the first pregnancy through artificial insemination, and the first laparoscopic bariatric surgery,” Dr Anthony expressed.
In partnership with Operation Walk Maryland, the Orthopaedic team implanted 52 hips and knee joints. Joint implantation will soon be done routinely, as discussions have started for the establishment of an Orthopaedic Training Centre at the GPHC.
Meanwhile, as part of the telemedicine programme, the Ministry expanded its tele-diagnostics programme, expanding the existing tele-ophthalmology, and teleradiology programmes.
“Tele-ophthalmology is now available at several sites in Guyana. This allows us to scan the retina and transmit the image to a central hub for interpretation. With the expansion of this programme, more diabetics will be closely monitored to prevent diabetic retinopathy.”
The teleradiology programme is also expanding. As of now, the programme operates with the GPHC to provide real-time interpretation of X-rays and CT scans. With the new digital X-rays now available at an additional 13 sites, these two will be connected for interpretation, and when the nine new CT Scanning machines are installed, these will be connected to this system.
“Later this year, we will be introducing telepathology services. This is a collaborative project between the MoH and Mount Sinai Hospital. This project, once completed, will reduce the turnaround time for the analysis of pathological samples. Currently, there is a long waiting time for a biopsy to be sent to the lab. With this new system, we are projecting that we will cut waiting time to less than a week.”

In fixing primary healthcare between 2021 and 2022, Dr Anthony disclosed, upgrades were done at more than 250 health centres and health posts across all administrative regions. The Ministry has collaborated with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to develop a comprehensive package of services consisting of 216 interventions that will be offered at this level.
It includes the diagnosis and treatment of the most prevalent infectious diseases, maternal and child health services, immunizations, and diagnosis and treatment of the main chronic non-communicable diseases.
The MoH has also started offering eye screening, dental checkups, and screening for hearing impairments.
For eye screening, some 4500 spectacles were distributed free of cost, while over 100 patients from the hinterland benefitted from cataract surgeries. Another 500 patients were assisted with hearing aids. Previously patients had to pay $65,000, but it is now free.
“Moving from a rudimentary to a world-class system required innovation and application of technology. With this in mind, the Government of Guyana has started a remote e-medicine Clinic at Nappi, Parikawaranau, Yupukari, and Gunns Strip. Each of these sites has a computer with internet-enabled devices, powered by solar energy and connected to the internet using satellite technology,” the Health Minister added.
In the past two years, the Ministry added surgical theatres to Kumaka and Port Kaituma in Region One, Kamarang in Region Seven and Mahdia in Region Eight, and Aishalton in Region Nine.
Under the UK-financed SMART Hospital project, refurbishments were rolled out at the Lethem and Mabaruma surgical theatres, which are now fully operational. In addition, the US Government has donated two oxygen plants which have been sent to these two hospitals.
“In the last two years, we have started to upgrade our medical imaging. All hospitals now have an ultrasound. In the last two years, we have bought 13 new X-rays, both mobile and fixed systems. Fixed digital X-ray systems are currently being installed at Suddie, West Demerara, Diamond Diagnostic Center, Mahaicony, Fort Wellington, New Amsterdam, Port Mourant, Mibicuri and Linden.”