Canadian-based Charity supporting health sector in Guyana

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Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony and Dr. Narendra Singh, President of GHTK

A Canadian-based charity organisation, Giving Health to Kids (GHTK), has been in partnership with the Government of Guyana since 2011, giving support to the health sector.

The organisation was established with the sole mandate of reducing neonatal mortality in Guyana. Its many programmes involve collaborations with the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), University of Guyana (UG), and its many partners internationally including McMaster University, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Buffalo State University, Hospital for Sick Kids, McMasters Children Hospital and the University of Toronto.

Over the last ten years, GHTK has been instrumental in establishing a Paediatric Residency Programme and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Training Programme to train over 20 pediatricians and 70 nurses, not just at GPHC, but regionally.

Ernesto Choo-a-Fat

The charity worked with the Ministry of Health and GPHC to refurbish and equip the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at GPHC, while also establishing NICUs at the Suddie, Bartica, West Demerara and New Amsterdam Regional Hospitals, as well as at the Linden Hospital Complex.

Earlier this year, GHTK donated over 10,000 N95 Masks and goggles to the medical staff in Guyana. The distribution process captured GPHC and some regional hospitals.

A more recent donation included a call from GPHC in July 2020 for ventilator circuits used on the Infant Ventilators keeping neonates alive. With the focus on the Covid-19 pandemic, it was proving difficult to purchase additional circuits and have them delivered within a short timeframe.

GPHC at that time only had three circuits and therefore GHTK responded immediately by purchasing and shipping 90 circuits to GPHC — a donation that would last approximately three months in the hospital’s NICU. Without these circuits, premature babies would not have survived.

“This is just one example of the massive impact that Covid-19 has had on Guyana. Hospitals and front-line workers continue to do their best in the face of enormous odds. We all know the challenges being faced in Canada by front-line workers, and we are so fortunate to have more resources available to us.

“We are pleased to assist the Government in obtaining this life saving equipment for the most vulnerable among us — the babies. It truly reflects the spirit of caring and compassion and commitment shown by our loyal donors to helping those, even in far away countries, who require our help,” said Dr. Narendra Singh, President of GHTK and a Guyanese by birth.

Speaking on the need to further develop the Paediatrics Programme in Guyana, Dr. Singh noted that the impact of seeing the neonatal death rate fall has not gone unnoticed and the positive feedback from the frontline staff about the programmes and support they receive from GHTK as they are going through their training is heartwarming. “This is the impetus for us to continue our work,” he added.

On September 10, the GHTK Board met virtually with Minister of Health Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony and reaffirmed its commitment to work with the Ministry of Health and the Government of Guyana. The Board requested that the Minister identify the top three areas of need to address in the coming year.

The Board also discussed the possibility of establishing a Neonatal Fellowship Programme and explore various other fellowships abroad for Guyanese Paediatricians.

GHTK also impressed the need to establish a Biomedical Programme and a Respiratory Therapy Programme in Guyana, given the advancement in medical technology in the last decade. The organization will also likely be hosting a second Neonatal Conference in 2021, or when safe to do so, given the circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Like most charities, GHTK would not exist without the generous financial support of its members and donors. While the diaspora of donors are from Canada and other parts of the world, there are some in Guyana, as well.

Mr. Ernesto Choo-a-Fat, a Guyanese and a generous donor and supporter of GHTK, was instrumental in the purchase and shipment of both the N95 masks and ventilator circuits. He continues to work with GHTK to assist with shipping many of the lifesaving equipment and consumables needed for emergency use at the local hospitals in Guyana. [Story and Photo Published on Caribbeantrakker on September 24]