Health documentary launched, business community engaged for support

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Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, hands over a token of appreciation to the Co-Director of the Guyana Programme to Advance Cardiac Care (GPACC) Dr Debra Isaac

LOCAL business owners and the Private sector at large have been challenged to contribute towards improving the public health care sector in Guyana. This was done through the screening of a short-film which captures the needs for further research and financial input into critical services of cardiovascular surgeries.

The move to involve the private sector has been considered since volunteers of GPACC recognise the role the private sector plays in society. Co-Director of GPACC, Dr. Debra Isaac, explained that such a move can make a significant difference in the health sector. “We are hoping that some of the private interests in Guyana will really step up and take ownership of the health of Guyanese people. We want to make a difference; we want to partner; we are seeing what’s being done and what can be done and we want to be part of it, so we are looking for them to partner with us in sustainable improvement in health care.” Dr. Issac said.

The Guyana Programme for Advanced Cardiac Care (GPACC), in collaboration with the government of Canada and the Ministry of Public Health, Guyana, hosted the first local screening of the documentary short-film ‘Born Blue’. The forty-minute documentary highlights the work done in Guyana by GPACC, especially for children diagnosed with heart diseases. The ‘Born Blue’ documentary focuses primarily on the pediatric cardiac surgeries performed in Guyana during 2016. Moreover, the film specifically highlights the challenges, as well as successes encountered, while facilitating the series of open-heart surgeries during 2016.

The film was premiered on the evening of June 7, 2017 at the Cara Lodge Suites, Ballet Room in Georgetown. Members of the diplomatic corps, current and former Ministers of Public Health, members of the Private Sector Commission, among other notable special invitees were present at the screening of the documentary. Some of the senior officials viewing the documentary, short-film ‘Born Blue’ for a better understanding of all the necessary aspects of providing quality cardiac care in Guyana.

Prime Minister Nagamootoo greets Dr Debra Isaac

Minister Lawrence noted that, “Cardiac care is indeed costly so I hope that tonight’s activity would encourage our private sector to invest extensively in this area, where so many of our citizens and particularly our young children are at risk of cardiac disease. The title of the film “Born Blue” aptly reminds us of the cardiac complications that can occur during pregnancy.”

Business representatives collectively noted that the work done in Guyana by GPACC is commendable, but there is still need for further growth and development. Guyana is a small country which requires the support of its own people to significantly add to what has started, according to one of the representatives. The Canadian government is also advocating for additional support. The Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, His Excellency Pierre Giroux, said that partnership which was already fostered between the ministry of Public Health and the Canadian government can advance Guyana’s efforts at providing cardiac care. Stakeholders attending at the screening of the documentary ‘Born Blue’
“The screening of Born Blue, the Guyana Project this evening highlights the work of GPACC and also showcases their intervention in trying to change the course of cardiovascular diseases here in Guyana, especially for the most vulnerable in society like children,” the High Commissioner noted.

Guyana has high rates of death and disability due to heart diseases. Approximately 60 percent of children tested for heart disease require surgery. For example, congenital heart disease has a rate of 0.8 to one percent in the birth of babies per year, which means that infants born in Guyana among these statistics will have congenital heart disease.

One of the pediatric Surgeons, Dr. Rodrigo Soto said, “That would put Guyana in anything between 60 to 70 new patients every year with congenital heart disease that require surgery.” Once these statistics are taken into consideration more lives can be saved, with significant declines in infant mortality. The line of surgeries performed by the Baby Heart Foundation is a start to ensuring the babies born with heart complications and defects are identified and treated within a timely manner.

Meanwhile, GPACC has spearheaded research and education in Guyana to determine the cause of such high rates of heart diseases detected, especially in children. (GINA)