THE first Regional Health Officers and Programme Heads Meeting for 2017 opened on Tuesday at Regency Suites with calls for health professionals across the country to raise the standards of services offered to citizens.
Themed: “Collaboratively we build a resilient health care system that is acceptable, accessible, timely and appropriate to meet the needs of every person in Guyana,” the four-day meeting is designed to foster a collaborative approach between the Public Health Ministry and its healthcare partners to effectively and efficiently deliver healthcare across the ten administrative regions of the country. Additionally, the Public Health Ministry is working with partners to reduce the gap between the hinterland and coastland regions.
In an effort to have greater efficiency within the healthcare system, several new positions will be created, Director of Regional Health Services, Dr. Kay Shako disclosed as she delivered the opening remarks in the presence of PAHO/WHO Country Representative, Dr. William Adu-Krow; Permanent Secretary of the Public Health Ministry, Trevor Thomas; and the Directors and Coordinator of the Cuban Medical Brigade, among others.
Dr. Shako disclosed that in the not so distant future, the position of Deputy Regional Health Officer will be created. Additionally, a Deputy Director of Regional Health Services will also be appointed.
These appointments, Dr. Shako said, are expected to enhance the way in which healthcare is delivered within the country. But most importantly, she said, it will help to further narrow the gap between the way in which services are offered in the hinterland and the coast.
Additionally, the Director of Regional Health Services also disclosed that the organisational structure is being reviewed by the Public Service Ministry. The structure, Dr. Shako, explained will clearly outline how healthcare services ought to be delivered within the region.
“Even as we speak, there is no organisational structure, organogram telling you how healthcare is to be delivered…If we have systems in place then healthcare can be delivered to the optimum for the average Guyanese citizens,” she posited.
As it is currently, the healthcare system leaves much to be desired, the Director of Regional Health Services emphasised. She said among other things there should be equitable and equal delivery of healthcare system.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary said that whether the Public Health Ministry moves in the direction of re-establishing Regional Health Authorities or maintain its current system, health personnel at every level must recommit to delivering the best possible service to the people in Guyana.
“2017 cannot be a mere continuation of 2016. We have to be passionate about [what] we do,” Thomas said, as he called on the Regional Health Officers and Programme Heads to assess their successes and failures of the past and make a deliberate effort to do effect positive changes.
Touching mildly on the reported drug shortage, Thomas said “We have to get it right. And part of getting it right is that we must get it right at every level.”
He emphasised that the management of resources provided to the Public Health Ministry influences the way in which donors contribute to the sector.
In 2016, Global Fund disclosed that an investigation of its malaria grant to Guyana for a period of two and a half years, up to June 2015, had unveiled irregularities, including falsification of data and fraudulent expenditures, totaling some $11 million.
“The investigation found a series of irregularities relating to the inflation of programmatic data, the fabrication of underlying programmatic documentation, and anomalies in fuel consumption and ‘per diem’ claims. These irregularities affected expenditures totaling US$72,973, which the OIG considers to be non-compliant, and therefore potentially recoverable,” the report by the Global Fund’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) had stated.
It was noted that the irregularities were facilitated by the inadequate management of the Global Fund malaria programme by the Vector Control Services (VCS) of the Ministry of Health, as a result of poor record-keeping and a failure to respond to Global Fund Secretariat Management Actions.
Addressing this issue, Thomas said fiscal prudence cannot be underscored. It was on this note that he alluded to 2016 when the Public Health Ministry had to pay back Global Fund in excess of US$80, 000 because of poor record-keeping and accountability.
This mistake must not be repeated, he emphasised.