Canadian medical team wraps up successful outreach in Guyana



Minister of Health, Dr. Bheri Ramsaran (right) with the members of the Canadian medical team. [GINA Photo]
Minister of Health, Dr. Bheri Ramsaran (right) with the members of the Canadian medical team. [GINA Photo]
[] – The 19-member Canadian medical team has wrapped up another successful outreach in Guyana. The team included nurses, social workers, psychiatrists, family doctors, and occupation therapists.

Speaking at a dinner hosted by the Health Ministry, Rev. Ram Kalap, one of the founding members of the team, said that lot of ground was covered over the past week. They visited health institutions at Suddie, Region Two, Linden, Region 10 and the National Psychiatric Hospital in New Amsterdam, Region Six.

Additionally, members of the team held lectures with students from the University of Guyana. Kalap explained that the team scouted over the last three years to get a better understanding of what is needed in Guyana, and subsequently mapped out a collaborative plan with the Ministry of Health.

The team was able to reintroduce Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT) to Guyana and even handed over an ECT machine to the National Psychiatric Hospital.

ECT is a procedure in which electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure. It causes changes in brain chemistry that can quickly reverse symptoms of certain mental illnesses. ECT is a tool for psychiatric treatment that has been around for over 50 years. It was available in Guyana as late as 1985. It is proven to be very effective and has a higher success rate than drug-therapy for depression.

The team also held sessions that focused on gender-based abuse, suicide prevention and mental health issues. Kalap said that they are eager to continue this kind of collaboration in the future.

Meanwhile, National Psychiatrist, Dr. Bhiro Harry spoke of the Mental Health Strategic Plan for which stakeholder consultations are continuing. He disclosed that in the next two weeks, Guyana will be hosting the PAHO’s Chief of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Dr. Jorge Rodriguez from Washington to further discuss Guyana’s strategic plan. This is to be followed by a massive stakeholder forum.

This plan, which is being done in collaboration with PAHO, will be rolled out in early 2015. [Extracted and modified from GINA]


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