$73 Billion for modern health sector, national COVID response, among others
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GUYANA’S health sector will see a $73 Billion injection for 2022, according to Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, on Wednesday evening, as he outlined government’s policies and programmes for the fiscal year.

Dr Singh plugged government’s drive to build a modern, world-class healthcare system in Guyana.

The intention, he said, is not only to ensure the country’s health system meets the needs of Guyanese, but also to transform health into an export service through medical tourism.

COVID-19, Other Communicable diseases
High on government’s agenda is the national response to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic as the national response to the virus has received a $6.8 Billion allocation.

With significant progress already made in outfitting Guyana’s emergency facilities for COVID-19 management and population vaccination, this year’s allocation is less compared to the $8.4 Billion budgeted in 2021.

The Senior Minister said the allocation will be used in part to purchase an additional 260,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to ensure vaccination of persons who have not yet received their jabs, and booster shots for those who have.

On malaria management, government has budgeted $142.4 million to procure over 112,000 nets in 2022 in preparation for a 2023 distribution cycle which will benefit over 158,000 persons.

Facilities and Equipment
Turning his attention to the infrastructure of Guyana’s health system, Dr Singh stated that $16.1 billion was budgeted for the expansion of facilities.

“$12.4 billion will be used for the design and construction of a state-of-the-art paediatric and maternal hospital, upgrading of the West Demerara and Bartica regional hospitals, and the
construction of six modern regional hospitals at Anna Regina, Tuschen, Diamond, Enmore, Bath and No. 75 Village, Corentyne,” he explained.

Additionally, investment will be made to improve the facilities of regional hospitals across Guyana, which will ultimately ease the pressure currently felt by the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).

$1 billion has been allocated to upgrade health centres across Guyana with an additional $2 billion budgeted for medical and non-medical equipment.

Mental Health
Government will, this year, table the much-anticipated amendment to Guyana’s mental health law, which was first passed in 1930, according to Dr Singh. This step, however, will be followed by a series of consultations on the subject.

Alongside improvements to the mental health legislation, government will plug $39 million into the expansion of the mental health ward at the national referral hospital.

“We have also budgeted $50 million for training, including in specialty areas such as addiction and rehabilitation,” Dr Singh added.

Adolescent Health
On adolescent health, government will pursue the “safe-space” initiative in schools to facilitate peer interaction and counselling as well as partner with local medical teams and community organisations to address comprehensive education in schools, Dr Singh explained.

He said another initiative that will help to reduce unplanned pregnancy is the expansion of the contraceptive programme, which will see an allocation of $154 million in 2022.

“In support of adolescent health,” Dr Singh continued, “$50 million has been budgeted for advancement of the programme led by the Office of the First Lady on the promotion of menstrual hygiene and will benefit over 30,000 adolescent girls.”

Drugs and Medical Supplies
Considering the blundering of the previous A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) government in managing the procurement system for government drugs, Dr Singh said it is his government’s intention to eradicate drug shortages by 2023.

“To that end, $17.9 billion has been budgeted to procure such supplies for the health sector in 2022.” Dr Singh said.

Additionally, government will push this year for reforms in the supply chain management system across the sector which will include data-driven quantification and strengthened procurement systems.

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