Transplant legislation’s 1st draft completed – Health Minister

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony, at a press conference on Monday, related that his Ministry has completed the first draft of the transplant legislation and is currently including recommendations from various stakeholders before making it law.

Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony

The Health Minister’s comments came after Head of the Georgetown Public Hospital’s Transplant Team, Dr Kishore Persaud, made calls for Government to fast track the legislation in an effort to improve the standard of care in healthcare in Guyana.
He explained that the legislation would allow for the advancement of transplantation in Guyana which can better serve the Caribbean region. He added that it is long overdue.
“I beg that we work together to get to the transplant legislation so that we can advance transplantation in Guyana and around the Caribbean region. It is long overdue, with hundreds of patients who are waiting for life changing experiences like (kidney transplant patients) Dr Germaine Bristol and Dr Nyamekeye Griffith…we have shown what we can do with the limited resources and I hope that soon we can be blessed with a transplant suite and the transplantation legislation and we can guarantee success for not only Guyana but the Caribbean in the field of transplantation,” Dr Persaud said.
Dr Anthony admitted that the legislation is imperative for Guyana to be internationally recognised as a transplantation hub. He explained that they reached out to a number of stakeholders both locally and internationally to ensure that the legislation is comprehensive.
“There’s been a multisectoral team that has been working at developing such legislation and Dr Kishore and the team here from the GPHC has been very instrumental in pushing for this legislation. Over the last few months, we have achieved quite a lot of progress and we have been able to complete the first draft of this legislation and we have received numerous comments from various stakeholders, including from the PAHO/WHO who had advised us on some of the additional things that we need to put or look at in our current legislation.
“We have also received comments from various stakeholders locally and we have also reached out to some international stakeholders, including Dr Kishan Narine who has reviewed the document thoroughly and provided us with some comments on what we should include and what we shouldn’t include. We have also been lucky enough to reach out to the Assistant Dean of the Harvard Law School, who has also provided us with comments on the legislation and we are in the process right now of infusing those comments on the first draft so as to strengthen the legislation that is being developed. As soon as we have that we have [to] once again circulate to make sure that everybody is on board and then shortly thereafter, we will walk through the process to make it into law in Guyana,” Dr Anthony explained.
He further stated that the legislation does not only contemplate doing transplantation in Guyana, but makes provision for a number of other areas which they intend to develop such as biobanking, which is one of the newer areas in medicine. Biobanking refers to the process by which samples of bodily fluid or tissue are collected for research use to improve our understanding of health and disease.

Additional investments
The Minister said that while they are working on the legislation, they will be making other advancements in the field of improving healthcare in the country. Dr Anthony also said that Government is working to enhance the level of care provided at the regional hospitals, explaining that soon New Amsterdam Hospital will be equipped with a laparoscopic suite to perform minimally invasive surgeries.
Additionally, they are restarting the suspended paediatric cardiac programme with an aim of performing at least 25 surgeries per year. Currently, paediatric cardiac patients have to travel overseas for surgeries, which is extremely costly.
“We’ll be shortly restarting, our paediatric cardiac programme. We had a programme before and it was suspended for a number of years. So we are restarting that programme and our intention is to do maybe 20 to 25 surgeries a year because right now those patients would have to travel abroad for those types of surgery and as you heard it. The costs can be extremely high and we’ll be able to do that programme here in Guyana for far less. Of course, the cardiac programme for adults that we have here at the GPHC in collaboration with CHI, where apart from doing stents and so forth, we are able to do open heart surgery. So, as we improve, the range of services are going to be extended and I’m sure that there are many other persons would want to come here for these types of services.” (G2)