PRESIDENT, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, has reiterated his Government’s commitment to investing in not only the infrastructure but in the human resource development of the healthcare sector.
President Ali gave this assurance on Thursday evening during the launch of the retrofitting of the Leonora Cottage Hospital in Region Three, under the Smart Health Care Facilities Project.
“Today we’re investing more… all the hospitals will see upgrades or improvements within the next few years. All the facilities will see tremendous transformation.”
The President also announced that, with regards to the investments in the health sector in Region Three (Essequibo Islands, West Demerara), Government will be allocating more than $1B from next year’s budget to upgrade the West Demerara Regional Hospital.
In outlining the tangible, as well as intangible advantages of the transformation, the Head of State, explained that the improvements would have multifaceted benefits which include the decentralising of healthcare services, empowering the local and regional health authorities to manage the facilities better and, more importantly, reaching patients who are in far-flung locations.
“Many times, people have to make a decision as to whether to take $1,000 to pay their transportation costs to go to Georgetown Hospital, or take $1,000 and buy food for their children. When we invest in these facilities, we are bringing health care to the people. We are reaching the unreached. It helps us to reduce the costs of access to health care, and it makes healthcare truly what PAHO and WHO want it to be—a universal right.”
IMPROVED EFFICIENCY, HUMAN RESOURCE CAPACITY
President Ali said, too, that the upgrades and improvements will also allow for more efficient and reliable access to healthcare services. He urged healthcare professionals to ensure that the facilities are ‘people-friendly’.
“The most important responder when you get to the hospital is someone we don’t ever think about in the healthcare equation, the security. That is where customer service begins. Even the helpers and the cleaners are most times a person’s direct point of contact, which means they too must undergo training if we are to create a people-friendly environment.”
While the President reiterated that there is not much sense in building the facility if the “human touch” is lacking, he urged those gathered to see the importance of a cultural shift as well as a shift in thinking. The President also called on the citizens to play their role and to avoid being abusive to the healthcare professionals.
“These are the types of changes that will add value to the infrastructure investment that we make here today. All of this can go to zero if we don’t have the right mindset.”
HUMAN RESOURCE CAPACITY
President Ali also addressed the importance of adequate human resource capability within the healthcare sector.
“We invested in over 1000 doctors; many of them are not in the system as yet. I have asked Dr Frank Anthony to look at this. Whatever hurdles there are we need the doctors to be in the system at different hospitals and health centres, not in their homes. We have to get our human resource capacity out there to work and deliver to the people.”
He announced that following Thursday’s engagement with a high-level Brazilian delegation, the Government is set to benefit from more international and regional support.
In closing, the Head of State reminded all that healthcare was the single most important public good that emphasises equality. He called on those gathered to use the lessons of the pandemic as a stark reminder that at the end of the day, we are all one.
“If you don’t believe me, remember this pandemic. It showed us, every single one of us, whether you’re high or low, whether you are short or tall, whether you’re orange or pink, we are all the same and we can all suffer the same consequences. Let this pandemic be the instrument that reminds us that we are all one and let it bring us together as one people.”