President Ali announces upgrades for health-care system

…upgrades for West Dem, Mabaruma & Lethem hospitals;
allowances & scholarships for health-care workers

President Dr Irfaan Ali has announced sweeping incentives and upgrades for the country’s healthcare system. This includes a billion-dollar upgrade for the West Demerara Regional Hospital in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) which will be catered for in the 2021 budget.

President Irfaan Ali addresses the gathering on Thursday evening

Also included are increases in salaries, allowances, and scholarships for healthcare workers. The Head of State made these revelations on Thursday at the formal launching of the second in a series of SMART upgrades to healthcare facilities in Guyana – the retrofitting of the Leonora Cottage Hospital.
President Ali during his address assured that as far as the financial architecture of the country allows, the Government will support the healthcare system and healthcare workers. According to the President, healthcare and education are the key foundations on which the society will advance, while democracy is the bedrock on which it will grow.

President Irfaan Ali unveiling the modernised Leonora Cottage Hospital – as part of the Smart Healthcare Facilities Project

Apart from the $150 million set aside in its emergency budget for healthcare workers, the President revealed that the Government has been able to cut programmes to find additional resources for healthcare professionals. In that regard, he announced that every healthcare professional will benefit from a two-week salary equivalent bonus which will be paid by the end of this year.
“Because while you have this direct bonus that will come to you, you are also included in the $25,000 household COVID-19 cash grant and the children uniform programme. You are also included in all the social benefits that the Government is giving to society and it will grow.”
He added, “Our economy will only get better and better and conditions will get better and better. Focus on advancing your careers and improving yourselves. And in helping you to do this we are starting the 20,000 scholarship programme next year.”
He disclosed that the Government will be setting aside special investment for courses in the field of healthcare, public health, nursing, nursing assistant and pharmacist among others. The Head of State pointed out that Government has already invested in over 1000 doctors, but for whatever reason, they are not in the system as yet.
President Ali added that he has asked Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony to inquire into whatever struggles these doctors are facing because “we have to get our professionals to be out there and deliver to the people.”
“We are investing in all the hospitals. All the hospitals will see upgrades and improvements within the next few years. All the facilities will see a tremendous transformation. It is aimed at decentralising services with the aim that we empower local and regional authorities to do more in the management of the facilities. It is about building capacity, and reaching the unreached,” Ali noted.
“Many times, people have to decide as to whether they take $1000 and pay the transportation cost to go GPHC or whether they take the $1000 and buy food for their children. When we invest in these facilities of bringing healthcare to the people, we are reaching the unreached. It helps us to reduce the cost of access to healthcare and it makes healthcare truly what PAHO and WHO wants it to be – a universal right.”
The President also pleaded with healthcare professionals to make the facilities people-friendly and urged those visiting the hospitals to have respect for doctors, nurses and other staff.
The Diamond Hospital and Leonora Cottage Hospital are among five health facilities to be upgraded to SMART hospitals. The other facilities identified are Mabaruma and Lethem Regional Hospitals, and the Paramakatoi Health Centre.
The United Kingdom-funded project is designed to help reduce mortality, morbidity and economic losses from natural disasters, to which many Caribbean nations are vulnerable. The “SMART Hospital” concept refers to a health facility which is both safe and utilises green technology.
Hospitals and other health facilities embracing this concept must provide standard and efficient healthcare before, during, and even immediately after the event of any natural or man-made disaster.