–as part of local authorities’ plans to improve healthcare countrywide
By Samuel Sukhnandan in Beijing
THE government has signed contracts with China’s Sinopharm International for the construction of six new regional hospitals in various parts of the country.
This was according to Chief Engineer of Sinopharm, Fu Qiang, during a recent engagement with the foreign press, including Guyanese journalists.
Mr. Qiang said those contracts were inked last month and caters for modern healthcare facilities in five of Guyana’s 10 regions. The aim of this initiative is to improve health care delivery in the South American country.
This has been confirmed by Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony, who said that the design process had commenced and the sites are currently being prepared for the construction phase.
The Irfaan Ali-led administration has presented a host of proposals for the health system and said this project is part of a larger $37.2 billion initiative that will modernise the regional healthcare system in Guyana.
The new facilities will be built at Anna Regina, Region Two; De Kinderen, Region Three; Diamond and Enmore, Region Four; Bath, Region Five, and Skeldon, Region Six. Each of the new regional hospitals will be 65,000 square feet.
Over the next few years, according to President Ali, the government wants to train and attract a significant number of healthcare professionals to provide not just health care, but the best, world-class medical services to the people of Guyana.
“We’ve set out on this adventure with zeal to build and implement a strategy that will achieve such a goal. We have already put in place various projects to promote access to high-quality health care for our country’s citizens,” he said in his Independence Day speech this year.
In addition to the construction of the six regional hospitals, four main tele-diagnostic centres will be upgraded to regional hospitals in Regions One (Barima-Waini), Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), and Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo).
The administration is working on a number of larger projects aimed at decentralising health care and making it easier for Guyanese to access it. The construction of a new $2 billion multi-specialty hospital in Suddie, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) is also a key project.
Meanwhile, the smart hospital project is nearing completion, with the goal of combining structural and operational safety as well as disaster resistance, all while preserving a green operating status. This project resulted in the upgrade of hospitals in Diamond, Leonora, Mabaruma, Paramakatoi, and Lethem.
The initiative is part of an $835 million grant administered by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and funded by the former United Kingdom Department for International Development.
The government intends to invest a record $73 billion in the healthcare industry by the end of 2022, compared to $53.5 billion in 2021. A total of $1 billion has been set aside for health centre upgrades, with an extra $2 billion allocated for medical and non-medical equipment.
Recently, former Health Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, told a Latin America and the Caribbean forum that China has made significant contributions in helping to improve the standard of healthcare delivery in Guyana.
He said through a medical co-operation agreement with that country, local doctors have benefitted from specialist training administered by the Chinese Medical Brigade in areas such as anesthesiology, orthopedics, nephrology, obstetrics, gynecology and pathology.
“Health is better in Guyana because China came 50 years ago and 30 years now they have sent specialists to our country to help improve the scope of our services,” Dr. Ramsammy added.
The former Health Minister said, today, Guyana is eliminating the backlog for cataracts, a condition that could lead to blindness, and has seen significant improvements in many other specialised areas.
Since 1993, Jiangsu Province of China has dispatched 16 batches of 231 members to Guyana to carry out medical work, treating nearly 1.3 million patients, rescuing more than 30,000 critically ill patients and performing more than 70,000 surgeries.
China, over the years, has also donated millions of dollars’ worth of medical equipment and materials to Guyana, with the most recent donation made in 2020 worth over $26 million.
The recent donation included laparoscopic surgery kit and other surgical instruments, orthopedic instruments, obstetrics and gynecology instruments, electronic traction rehabilitation instruments, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), among others. (Reporting courtesy of NCN Editor, Samuel Sukhnandan who is currently in Beijing on a China International Press Communication Centre (CIPCC) 2022 Fellowship at the invitation of the China Public Diplomacy Association)