Boosting the Health Sector

THE Government of Japan has donated $205.8 million as part of its contribution to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Guyana. Part of the grant money was utilised to purchase four new ambulances which will greatly enhance ambulatory services in several parts of the country, especially in hinterland and rural communities. Other items that will be sourced under this grant money will include imaging equipment and ultrasound machines, ECG machines and pulse oximeters, among others.

Japanese assistance to Guyana and to the health sector in particular is not new. It will be recalled that the Japanese Government provided funding for the construction of a new hospital at New Amsterdam after the old hospital fell into a state of advanced deterioration. The old hospital in New Amsterdam was constructed way back in 1881 with funds provided to the then Public Works Department by the colonial administration, but was not put into use until 1885.

Described as a timber architectural masterpiece, the structure fell into disrepair after the failure of the then PNC to do proper maintenance work and later became unfit and was eventually abandoned.

Thanks to a generous donation by the Government of Japan, work on the new hospital in New Amsterdam was commenced in 2003 by the PPP/C administration.  A US$12.3 million grant agreement was signed for the first and second phases of the hospital construction which also allowed for the purchase of equipment, product and other services, as well as training in the operation of the equipment and guidance in management of the facilities.

The hospital was constructed in a way that made it much more patient-friendly than was the case of the previous wooden structure.
The donation of ambulances and other diagnostic equipment could not have come at a better time, when the PPP/C administration is in the process of overhauling the delivery of health care in Guyana. The assistance is all the more welcome coming at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is still showing no signs of letting up and the country is still recovering from the ravages of a natural disaster.

Japan has also contributed in several other areas of assistance, not only to the Guyana government, but to the people of the Region as well. Under the Japan International Cooperation Agreement (JICA), Guyana continues to benefit from the expertise of senior Japanese professionals who provide their skills and expertise in several fields such as agriculture, education, public infrastructure, the environment, water, civil aviation and energy, among others. Several Guyanese students were sent overseas to advance their studies in several critical areas of skills which have all impacted positively on the country’s overall development.

The health sector has benefitted significantly over the decades from donor assistance, which has contributed significantly to better health care delivery to the citizens of Guyana. This recent donation is yet another expression of the goodwill that the Government of Guyana enjoys from the Government and people of Japan.

The purchase of the ambulances will greatly boost the ambulatory services across the country. Already, one of the ambulances was handed over by the Ministry of Health to the Linden Hospital Complex. The ambulance is valued at $11M and is fully equipped with all medical instruments and supplies to provide basic life support. Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony expressed appreciation to the Japanese Ambassador for the donations and for their continued support to our nation in the continuing fight against the dreadful disease.

One way of expressing our gratitude for the support received from the donor community is to make maximum use of the donations received and to ensure that the equipment received is handled with care and caution. Donations, whether in cash or in kind, are not ‘free,’ but are paid for by taxpayers from donor nations and must be treated with due care and diligence. This is all part of a culture of care and accountability which as a country we all have a duty and responsibility to embrace.


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