$51.7B budget for health sector

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The Ministry of Health

The health sector has been allocated a significant $51.7 billion (15.7% of the total budget) to improve the quality of healthcare for all Guyanese, especially during times of Covid-19.

Minister of Public Works, Bishop Edghill, during the budget presentation, disclosed that the monies will address immediate needs and guarantee the purchase of drugs and medical supplies, availability of test kits and anti-retrovirals for HIV patients, enhance the diagnostic imaging capacity of many of the hospitals, improve a number of other infrastructural defects at facilities across the country, and fundamentally, improve the quality of health care provided to citizens.

Drug Procurement

According to Minister Edghill, $14.3M will be strictly for the procurement of drugs and medical supplies to “replenish the acute shortage of medicine and other health supplies that were overlooked by the previous administration.”

The Minister explained that “corrective action to facilitate the procurement of emergency supplies of drugs and medical supplies, to the tune of $3.2B, is underway, and a full review of quantification and procurement practices is being currently undertaken, as there is a lack of evidence of any purchased drugs and medical supplies since 2017.”

SMART Hospitals

Minister Edghill says that the Government works to fix these immediate needs, they have also already started to look at medium- and long-term projects in the health sector. These include completing the SMART Hospital initiatives at Diamond, Paramakatoi, Mabaruma, Leonora and Lethem.

According to the Minister, funding has been allocated for the re-development of the West Demerara, Suddie and Bartica Hospitals.

Meanwhile, preliminary discussions are being undertaken to operationalise a national electronic patient information system. In addition, the Government has received several enquiries from local and international organisations to develop speciality care facilities in Guyana and is also considering the establishment of a medical research institute as we work to modernise the delivery of health care in Guyana.

The new administration has also billed $143.3M to the National AIDS Programme for ensuring adequate supplies of HIV-related drugs and medical supplies to suitably treat infected patients.

Malaria Control

In response to the Malaria Control Programme, Minister Edghill relayed that the Government will be distributing another bath of long-lasting insecticidal nets later this year. The Government has requested assistance for support in acquiring rapid test kits to afford extensive testing.

Immunisation

An outreach and house-to-house immunisation activities will be launched to ensure vaccination coverage is up to par. A budgeted $17M will guarantee the instigation of constructing of a cold storage bond in Region 6 to safeguard an ample supply of vaccines for the entire country.

Family and Primary Health Care Programme

In dealing with the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Family and Primary Health Care Programme has prioritised the conduct of mobile family planning and obstetrics outreaches. This presents a significant move as unplanned pregnancies are expected to increase due to persons being confined to their homes amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

GPHC

GPHC has been assigned $11B, including $2.5B for drugs and medical supplies to mitigate the overcrowding and inadequate infection prevention and control standards that have been affecting the health institution for some time.

Meanwhile, an allocation of $15M to continue the extension of the accident and emergency and medical outpatient departments, while $20M will commence the design of a four-storey building to relocate the pharmacy and medical records services, and to create on-call accommodation for our hard-working medical personnel.