6,000 to benefit from improved access to primary healthcare
Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence joined officials of the Region Four RDC, health officials, staff of the Eccles Health Centre and students to cut the ceremonial ribbon as part of the commissioning of the health centre (Carl Croker photo)
Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence joined officials of the Region Four RDC, health officials, staff of the Eccles Health Centre and students to cut the ceremonial ribbon as part of the commissioning of the health centre (Carl Croker photo)

-as MoPH commissions $30M health centre at Eccles

IN keeping with the government’s vision of ensuring that everyone, everywhere benefits from primary healthcare, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has commissioned a $30 million health centre at Eccles, which is expected to benefit some 6,000 people.
Persons within the catchment area of the Eccles-Ramsburg Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD), will no longer have to travel miles to access primary healthcare services, since the newly commissioned facility is well equipped and staffed.

This was according to Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence during her remarks at a ceremony to commission the health centre, on Wednesday.

An external view of the new, modern Eccles Health Centre (Carl Croker)

“The presence of this facility means that they don’t have to leave the catchment area to access healthcare elsewhere…gone are the days when you had to find transportation to access primary healthcare,” said Minister Lawrence, adding that this is the first health centre to be established in Eccles.

Prior to the establishment of this facility, persons had to travel to Mocha-Arcadia, Agricola, Herstelling or Diamond to access primary healthcare.

Describing the establishment of the health centre as a ‘milestone’ for the community, Minister Lawrence said: “It is an important aspect of the ministry’s mission for advancement of primary healthcare…this is long overdue, but it has been realised and residents have a new, well-equipped facility.”

The minister assured residents that when they visit the facility they will meet a core of trained healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists and even community health workers. And, in order to ensure that there is optimal medical care, the MoPH has even stationed a family medicine specialist at the facility.
Among the services offered at the health centre are testing for chronic diseases, STDs, and other illnesses, as well as child and adolescent health, and Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT).

“The package of healthcare services will be delivered right here, so none of you can say the health centre is far away…persons will even be able to be treated for more than one illness at the same time, because we have the skills and expertise there,” said Minister Lawrence.
The provision of various health services at the health centre adds to the broader vision of the MoPH, which entails ensuring that persons live to their fullest potential.

In that regard, Minister Lawrence encouraged residents to ensure that they place their health at the top of their list of priorities. Persons were also advised to eat healthy, exercise and utilise the new health centre to get medical check-ups.

“Prioritise your personal health and focus on preventative measures to avoid getting ill…you must be cognisant of the risk factors of unhealthy practices and use the health centre as a back-up for good health. Use it in a positive way to improve your life,” said Minister Lawrence, adding that good health is the passport to a good life.

One of the state-of-the-art rooms at the health centre (Carl Croker)

She challenged the community leaders to utilise the health centre for activities such as “men day” testing, which will attract persons and encourage them to get themselves checked for various ailments.

The MoPH plans to replicate this effort and open other health centres across the country, as government continues to work towards attaining equity in health.

The ministry intends to do this through continued partnership with the Ministry of Communities, and according to Chairperson of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) of Region Four, Genevieve Allen, the establishment of the Eccles Health Centre is testimony to the RDC’s commitment to ensuring that there is universal health coverage.
She said the idea of constructing a health centre in Eccles was conceptualised in 2017 and formed part of the regional work programme in 2018, but the facility was completed in 2019. The health centre had started delivering services on a small scale in September last year.
Residents of Eccles who were present at the ceremony said the commissioning of the facility is timely and will indeed relieve them of the burden of having to travel far away for medical attention.


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