The Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry Limited (GBTI Ltd) has been making inroads in the health sector in Guyana. From erecting a billboard and adopting the counselling room in the Guyana Foundation Sunrise Centre in Essequibo, to bringing awareness and sensitizing the public on curbing the scourge of suicide to being supportive of ensuring healthy new-born babies of Guyana.
The Bank has seen it fit to partner with two doctors; Dr Pheona Mohammed-Rambaran, Director of Medical Laboratory, and Dr Bibi Alladin-Karan, Paediatric Resident, who are attached to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).
They are currently undertaking a pilot project called “New-Born Screening”. This pilot project has been running from 1st July, 2016 and continues to the 30th September, 2017 and will see three thousand, two hundred (3,200) new-born infants being tested for the prevalence of Sickle Cell Anaemia (SCA) and Congenital Hypothyroidism (CH) at the GPHC.
To date, some three thousand infants have been tested for these diseases. Dr Alladin-Karan noted that because of the efforts placed by the bank in this project that they have saved a number of babies’ lives from SCA and CH.
Babies born with the Sickle Cell trait are only expected to live to about the age of 25-30 years old if treatment is not administered. Babies born with the trait of CH could potentially develop mental disorders, limb and joint impairments and other such disabilities that can affect them as they grow and develop. This she says is why screening for these two diseases is necessary and should form a part of the routine tests that are carried out on babies when they are born.
Dr Alladin-Karan further noted that if the new-borns are tested and if these traits are picked up from that stage, that there are treatments that can be administered which can improve the quality of life for those new-borns so that they develop less complications later on in life.
Presently, Dr Alladin-Karan stated that once the mother’s consent is given, samples are being taken at the GPHC, and then sent to the Children’s Health Eastern Ontario laboratory in Canada for the testing to be done. A sample only requires a prick of the baby’s foot as just a small drop of blood is required.
Dr Alladin-Karan noted that upon approaching GBTI, that she was immediately granted funding as the Bank took cognisance of the fact that a research project such as this one can be beneficial to all Guyanese. Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas are among the first Caribbean countries to pilot a study of this nature.
It is hoped that once the pilot project is completed that comprehensive sensitization and awareness campaigns will be done along with an advocacy for sustainability of this project which would then see the implementation of same by the year 2018.
GBTI also intends to forge ahead with this partnership so that in due time, the testing can be done locally.