$10.8M Ophthalmology Unit for Region Nine
Region Nine Regional Health Officer, Dr. Cerdel McWatt
Region Nine Regional Health Officer, Dr. Cerdel McWatt

THE health sector in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) continues to make significant strides, with authorities reporting the completion of the first Ophthalmology Department at Central Lethem.

Regional Health Officer (RHO), Dr. Cerdel McWatt, said the $10.8 million facility forms part of the region’s comprehensive healthcare plan, in keeping with the government’s vision of providing affordable healthcare services to hinterland communities.

Dr. McWatt told the Department of Public Information (DPI) that, prior to the addition of this unit to the regional health system, eye-care services were only provided to residents during outreach exercises, resulting in a build-up of patients.

“This (Ophthalmology Department), of course, is a huge benefit in terms of reducing the backlog of patients who require such services. Recently, we had to send a patient to Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) for a simple eye examination and now that can be a thing of the past,” he said.

To complement the much-needed service, the region welcomed the completion of the Lethem Regional Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in August at a cost of $14 million.

The five-bed facility is equipped with ventilators, defibrillators, suction machines and crash carts among other amenities, which the RHO said, will boost health services and ease residents’ financial burden.

He said that, previously, critical patients had to be flown to Georgetown or neighbouring Brazil to access intensive care services.
“Additionally, the Ministry of Health’s Department of Regional Health Services has been instrumental in providing the region with six new specialised doctors from Cuba, ranging from emergency care specialist, pediatricians, anesthesiologists, imaging specialist, laboratory technologist and others,” Dr. McWatt said.

He also reflected on the recently commissioned $27 million maternity waiting home and the impact it will have on reducing maternal and neonatal deaths in the region.

The 14-bed waiting home will ensure that both mother and child are in a safe environment as is provided to patients on the coastland.
The RHO added: “We have also made provisions for a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) which is about 90 per cent complete, and, once that is completed, we would be able to cater for critical babies.

This is one of the areas we are looking to reduce infant and child mortality, as it feeds into the other programmes.”

The significant improvements will bring the regional health facility closer to becoming a “SMART Hospital” as envisioned by the government. It comes under an $835M (US$4.175 million) project, funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID).



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