Ridiculous APNU/AFC bogus claims – track record on health, agriculture shameful

Dear Editor,
A spade is a spade – APNU/AFC did not reduce maternal deaths, did not improve availability and access to medicines and medical supplies and did not increase the numbers of nurses and doctors in the health sector. These are patented lies from pathological liars. Similarly, APNU/AFC did not create more jobs in agriculture, they lost jobs; they did not produce more because agriculture’s productivity plummeted; and they did not open more factories, this is nothing more than a willful, full-throated bogus claim.
Instead of asking for another term based on their track record in Government, APNU/AFC opted for dishonesty and indecency – first, demonise and attack (“cussing out”) Bharrat Jagdeo and the PPP and, second, just plain lie to the Guyanese people. APNU/AFC presently are running full-page newspaper, radio and TV ads, not even trying minimally to be truthful, honest and decent. They stand a better chance doing the right thing – apologise and beg for another chance. Instead, they have chosen to openly and blatantly lie, claiming achievements that are non-existent. APNU/AFC has desperately avoided any discourse on their track record, preferring the safe space of advertisements and brazen banners dotted with spurious claims and total lies.
In one full-page ad, they boasted they invested $127.4 billion in health and in another, they boasted of investing $98 billion in agriculture the last five years. For their investment in health, they claimed they improved maternal care, increased the numbers of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers and improved access to medicines. For agriculture, the lies are even more preposterous, claiming more produce, more factories, more jobs. The lies for both health and agriculture are not just obnoxious, they are arrogant, insulting and disqualifying.
For health, the investment of $127 billion for the last five years is more than the PPP spent in 23 years, on an annual basis spending five times more than the PPP. Yet, there is no obvious improvement in health. The claim of improved maternal care is patently false and immediately dismissed – 26 pregnant women died in 2019, although the Ministry claimed that 18 of them were maternal deaths, insisting 8 pregnant women died of causes not related to their pregnancy. But maternal deaths are deaths of pregnant women and the fact remains, 26 of them died in 2019. Still, whichever of the two numbers, 26 or 18, is used this is more than was the rate under the PPP. Between 2008 and 2015, there were between 8 and 14 maternal deaths. The high maternal death number is totally unacceptable, especially since the number of pregnancies is significantly less now.
In the 23 years, the PPP reduced maternal deaths dramatically, recalling that between 1985 and 1992, the number of maternal deaths were between 65 and 100. The fact is that there has been no improvement in the last five years and the evidence is it has regressed. The boast of improved maternal care is a patented lie.
Even worse than the maternal care lie is the boast of improved access to medicines and medical supplies. This is, in fact, one of the most egregious shames for APNU/AFC in the last five years. They spent between 2015 and 2019, more than $37 billion for medicines and medical supplies, slightly more than the PPP did in 23 years. Their average annual expenditure on medicines and medical supplies was 5 times more than the PPP. But it is indisputable, availability and accessibility to medicines and medical supplies in 2014 was far superior than it has been in the last five years. This has been a major disaster for APNU/AFC. They have spent five times what the PPP did and got less. APNU and AFC, if they are smart, should stay far from any discourse on medicines and medical supplies. Right at this moment, there are shortages – several places in Guyana have no HIV testing kits, there are no juvenile insulin pens, there are major shortages for critical medicines for high blood pressure and diabetes, etc.
As for the boast of more staffing, they should publish the numbers. It was the Deputy Chief Medical Officer who not so long ago, as reported in the media, admitted that the Diamond Diagnostic Centre functions at less than 33 per cent capacity because of major shortages of staff.
This is not a PPP/C claim, it is from the Deputy Chief Medical Officer. In fact, patients and health centre clients across Guyana experience the shortage of staff on a daily basis. Any cursory visit to any hospital would reveal the truth – major shortages of nurses and doctors. The boast of improved staffing is bogus. The full-page ad on health is a total lie. They spent $127.4 billion and have nothing to show for it. They would be better off showing some remorse and apologise for the dismal failure in health.
The agriculture expenditure of $98 billion did not create more jobs as their full-page ad claims. In fact, in the last five years, agriculture has employed fewer people. More than 15,000 lost jobs because of the closure of four sugar estates, consisting of more than 7000 sugar workers and another 8000 who lost jobs or livelihoods resulting from the downturn in the economy of the sugar communities. Another 15,000 people lost jobs in forestry, mining and in other businesses. This claim, therefore, of creating more jobs in agriculture is a brazen lie.
The claim of more factories is clearly a figment of someone’s warp imagination adding salt to open wounds. Which factories are they talking about? Surely, they could not be talking about the four major sugar factories which they closed, firing more than 7000 sugar workers. We know some of the small-scale manufacturers went out of business. They must inform us of what factories were established. As far as more produce, they should be ashamed to even broach this subject.
Sugar fell below 100,000 tons for the first time in almost 100 years and the barely 90,000 tons was one of the lowest since 1886. While rice production has remained high, this has been in spite of the hardships APNU/AFC created for rice farmers. It is ugly and reprehensible APNU/AFC is claiming credit for the hard work and resiliency of rice farmers that this Government disowned. All other agricultural produce has recorded downward production. In fact, hundreds of fishing boats are idle today.
All six claims made on health and agriculture are totally bogus. Having spent more than five times as much as the PPP on health and agriculture, they have nothing to show and have shamelessly resorted to total lies. It will not work because the lies are just too plain for people to see.

Dr Leslie Ramsammy