Residents of Fort Island in Region Three were able to have their concerns addressed by Minister of Public Health Dr. George Norton and a visiting team, during a community meeting at the Island’s health center.
The visit on Sunday, which was mainly for the purpose of inspection of the village’s health facility, turned into a public meeting following a request by the residents. During this meeting, several issues relating to other aspects of development were brought to light.
According to a report from the Government Information Agency (GINA), the residents complained bitterly about the health center, stating that, “it never open…the (Community) Health Worker never at the center.” They added that residents from neighbouring communities and islands would seek treatment at the Fort Island health center, but when the residents visit the facility they are denied care.
In addition, GINA said it was brought to the team’s attention that all of the employees at the health center are related, including an underage young man. Further, allegations of the Community Health Worker (CHW) being verbally abusive to some residents were also made; along with complaints of her deserting her post for long periods of time.
“However, the most troubling health issue for the community is the lack of purified drinking water, which has led to a fairly high number of cases of diarrhoea and vomitting. Residents utilise the water from the Essequibo River for all household chores, and for cooking and drinking,” GINA stated.
After listening to the residents’ concerns, Minister Norton committed to ensuring that tanks are set up for the purpose of water storage and purification. With regards to the issues surrounding the CHW, Regional Health Officer (ag) Dr. Shawn Bancroft, pointed out that some of these concerns have never reached him and as a result, he was unable to correct them. However, he added that an investigation by the Regional Health Services will soon commence to address the issue.