$22.4 M water ambulance sets off in Orealla

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Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence on Thursday commissioned this $22.4M water ambulance for the riverine communities of Orealla and Siparuta (Nafeeza Yahya photo)

A RIVER ambulance was on Thursday handed over to the communities of Orealla and Siparuta on the Corentyne River.

Minister Lawrence is assisted by a village pastor and Deputy Toshao, Randy Harmon in cutting the ceremonial ribbon

The boat ambulance is fully equipped with all the necessary medical equipment inclusive of an oxygen tank, heart monitors, stretcher and other equipment which will play a critical role in providing support in a fast and efficient manner until transfer to a hospital on the coast.

Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence visited the community to formally hand over the ambulance and took the opportunity to interact with residents and at the same time check on the needs of the community doctor and health workers in the Village.

Addressing residents at the Village Benab, Minister Lawrence noted the river ambulance is just about one of the services provided not only to Orealla/Siparuta but also to all hinterland communities in an effort to provide better access and equality in the delivery of health care. “Guyana is on the move; we will continue to provide the necessary services and access to health, education and all other services which each and every one of us needs to live a daily life.”

Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence greeted by students on arrival in Orealla

The minister highlighted that her ministry is not only focused on the present but believes in thinking ahead and as such she told those gathered about plans to have a cottage hospital in the village. “We are not only thinking about now, we are not thinking about fixing a window or door only, we are thinking about how we can begin to project our plans to 2025-2030 and for these two communities we would like to at least see there’s a cottage hospital here to service you instead of having to go down the river.”

Minister Lawrence was accompanied by the Director of Regional Health Services, Jevaughn Stephens, Focal Point Coordinator and Advisor to Minister of Health, Alex Foster and a team of regional health officials. The minister also pointed out that a medical team will be visiting the community before the end of the year and told regional health services officials to ensure there is also a schedule for 2019. The team will be offering dental services, eye and ear testing among others. “We don’t want to talk it, we want to ensure that health is available and it is accessible by all people. After all we need to have Guyanese who enjoy the best of health and that is all we must work towards.”

Meanwhile Deputy Toshao of Orealla, Randy Harmon expressed appreciation on behalf of the residents of Orealla. He described it as a “meaningful” contribution to the community. He also urged the residents to take responsibility to care for the ambulance.

An inside look of the ambulance (Pastor offering prayers)

Stephens said the idea for the boat ambulance was birthed two years after consultation with residents who requested such for the community. He noted recognising the timeframe for a transfer to a coastal hospital; he agreed that the ambulance will be ideal for the community. “$22.4M might sound a lot but to health services it is a minor investment to ensure there is positive changes in the delivery of health services for these two communities. It will also help them in cutting back on expenses because in an emergency the logistics and resources may not be readily be available so families have to seek alternative ways to get to the coast. With the ambulance, we will ensure there is always those services available.”

Additionally he noted, in the future they are hoping to offer the same service to the community of Baracara. The visiting team and villagers were entertained by a packed cultural programme by students of the nursery and primary schools and also a resident who performed a song he had composed which had everyone tapping their feet to the beats.