Letter: Questioning Government’s policy on medical assistance for Guyanese

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Dear Editor,

I have observed the public disclosure on financial assistance for medical purposes that was rendered to the distinguished gentleman and former magistrate, Fazil Azeez, who suffered at the hands of a criminal. Let me take this opportunity to publicly declare that I am in full support of my brother and friend, Fazil Azeez’s full recovery and look forward to his continued contribution to Guyana.

As a result of the public’s knowledge of government’s assistance to deserving persons, I write to enquire about the guiding policies that determine the beneficiaries of such assistance. In my individual capacity, as a Member of Parliament and in engagements with members of the public at the office of the Leader of the Opposition, there have been numerous requests for assistance for medical treatment both locally and overseas.

Based on my knowledge, as a former member of Cabinet, I did refer several families to the Ministry of Public Health for assistance, only for them to be told by Ministry officials that the medical assistance facility was not accessible in their circumstance.

I, therefore, invite the Public Health Minister or the Cabinet, through the Minister of State, to make public the government’s policy on medical assistance to families who are in dire need, particularly those needing to travel abroad to access health care.

I expect that this approach would lend itself to equal opportunity and access, in a non-discriminatory manner, where political affiliation, religion, race and class are not criteria for favourable consideration.  I am sure that the line for such assistance is being formed and has, probably, encircled the perimeter of the Ministry of Public Health.

Clarity on government’s medical assistance policy would answer many questions that are being asked.

Firstly, the Guyanese people need to be aware of the ceiling as it relates to benefits for access to medical care locally, is it $1M or $6M? If medical assistance is available locally, at public institutions, under what circumstances do persons qualify for benefits?  If medical assistance is available locally at private institutions, under what circumstances do persons qualify for benefits?

Secondly, when referrals are made for patients to seek further medical care abroad, under what circumstances do they qualify for assistance and what is the ceiling? Is it $1M or $6M? Is there a network of medical professionals and institutions that the government is partnering with?

Thirdly, to what extent, does your financial standing, or lack thereof, qualify for or prohibits from being able to access medical assistance?

Finally, who is the officer authorised to approve medical assistance. Who makes the final determination about access and the amount of assistance accessed?  Is it the subject Minister? Is it the Cabinet? Or is it a technical officer?

Sincerely,

Bishop Juan Edghill PPP/C MP

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