GPHC tragedies a result of inexperienced, political appointees – former Health Minister

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Guyana’s health sector continues to be plagued with challenges and instead of it being developed under the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government, it is actually regressing.

This was according to former People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, who in an exclusive interview with Inews on Sunday stated that the present Administration has politicised the health sector since it took office and this has had a deleterious impact on the quality of health care offered in Guyana.

“In implementing a policy of favouring political activists and friends for appointment in the sector, APNU/AFC has sacrificed quality health care for the Guyanese people for political expediency. The end result, however, is that everyone suffers.

Dr Leslie Ramsammy

The recent preventable deaths of three children at the GPHC [Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation] because of inappropriate use of a very good and powerful medicine is one of the results of the poor management that unfortunately is endemic in the public health sector today,” he explained.

According to Dr Ramsammy, the deaths of the three children earlier this year at the GPHC were compounded by the “mismanagement of the investigation”.
“It abandoned all the standard protocols that were in place since I was Minister of Health. The timeline of more than six weeks for an investigation into these deaths demonstrates that the Hospital and the Ministry of Health were more interested in spinning and placing blame somewhere, rather than finding the truth and ensuring systems to prevent reoccurrence.

The standard protocol for these investigations have always insisted on avoidance of conflict of interest, not protection of interest.” He posited that the GPHC investigation, with the total complicity of the Health Ministers and the Ministry, never was intended to find the truth and introduce systems to avoid a reoccurrence.

Meanwhile, in light of the recent report about the birth of premature twins and the wrapping of the babies as stillborns to be removed to the mortuary, the former Health Minister noted that that was another event that added to the loss of confidence in the health sector and the suspicion among citizens that the public health sector was dangerous.

“I am informed that the twins were premature, birthing at 25 weeks of pregnancy. It is true that such premature babies do have a difficult time surviving, but the automatic conclusion that they are not viable is reckless. When I was Minister, we had changed the viability from 28 weeks to 22, I believe, consistent with the standards in other countries and in this case, the responsible persons assumed that since the babies were below the 28 weeks, they decided to discard the foetus.”

Dr Ramsammy elaborated that this was yet other example that all the standard protocols in the public health sector were either currently not being applied or poorly applied.

“This is the result of inexperienced and political appointees. It is not merely callous, it is reckless and an abrogation of responsibilities and a dereliction of duty by the Ministers. The truth is that APNU/AFC deliberately abandoned many of the protocols in place and many of the quality programmes already in place for political reasons,” he added. (Kristen Macklingam)

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