The public health sector has fallen apart: people plead for help, Government missing

In full election campaign mode, APNU/AFC boasts it has spent $150 billion on healthcare in Guyana. While no one doubts this claim, the people of Guyana know also that public health care in Guyana is in a total mess, falling far below its 2015 standards. The Budget also shows that several billion dollars were spent on corrupt deals, super salaries for handpicked activists, etc. In the meantime, the Ministers in health and the Cabinet are clueless and, more importantly, disinterested in the sector. Even as the health sector falls apart, the Ministers are AWOL – everywhere doing everything but their jobs. They did take time to dispute a story of a corrupt arrangement for another “medicine bond” rental in Georgetown, at a cost of $12.5 million per month, which now necessitates the calling in of the Auditor General to verify.
While the Ministers are now everywhere openly campaigning, the latest news from the public health sector is that the New Amsterdam Hospital’s mortuary, where several bodies decomposed last month is now “closed indefinitely”. The announcement did not include reference to any contingency arrangements for mortuary services. Presumably, this will now be a burden on families as they resort to the Private Sector. At no time did anyone connected to the Ministry of Public Health bother to present plans for resuming mortuary services at the main hospital for Regions Five and Six, an area with at least 33 per cent of the population of Guyana. Even as that announcement was made, there is protest because of chaos at the ER of that hospital. There is also a standoff between the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the Regional Democratic Council (RDC); the RDC wants cataract surgery resumed at the New Amsterdam Hospital, since the Port Mourant Ophthalmology Centre has essentially closed down, but the CEO has refused the order from the RDC.
Meanwhile, Skeldon Hospital is without use of all its equipment because of electricity problems, shortage of medicines and medical supplies continue to plague the sector across Guyana, medical personnel are often missing, important equipment such as x-ray machines are inoperable in various hospitals, dental services are restricted because of lack of supplies, child mortality in our hospitals have become a crisis, with the questionable deaths at the GPHC still “under investigation”. In fact, since then, a number of child deaths have occurred at GPHC which are being questioned. A poor family from Buxton called me last night with just a heart-rending, horror story of a child who died at just six days old. There are questions about a number of maternal deaths that are still under investigation. There are the ongoing corrupt arrangement to procure medicines and supplies that are still unavailable.
As hopeless as the above sounds, it is only the tip of the iceberg. The collapse of the health sector is one of the many reasons why the Guyanese people have lost confidence in the David Granger-led APNU/AFC Government. This is a major reason why the nation is just simply disgusted with the behaviour of David Granger and APNU/AFC as they spend taxpayers’ money to campaign openly for elections due by March 21, while also defiantly insisting they will not resign and schedule elections.
President Granger defiantly declared on Sunday at an APNU/AFC election meeting “I ain’t going nowhere”. Ministers of Public Health, Volda Lawrence and Karen Cummings, have suddenly found lots of time, gustily campaigning with taxpayers money. The European Union and the United Nations have joined civil society and political parties in Guyana urging David Granger and APNU/AFC to hold elections in accordance with the Constitution within 90 days from December 21, as Parliament mandated when it passed the no-confidence motion. The AFC is fighting internally over who should be its Prime Minister nominee, Moses Nagamootoo or Ramjattan. In the midst of this travesty, GECOM with its Granger-handpicked Chairman has allowed itself to become a tentacle of APNU/AFC dictatorship, like the Bollers-led Elections Commission of Burnham in the late 1960s up to 1992.
Sectors like health and education are falling apart. While the Government insists that it is business as usual, it has become totally absent in managing the various sectors. It still signs huge contracts, contrary to the Constitution, and is now tapping the treasury as they embark on the usual political trickery and lies, while agony and trauma have become the norm of the lives of ordinary people everywhere in Guyana. The time to speak up is now. Silence will only bring greater crisis for our people.