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Announcement by the government that the regional hospitals’ Intensive Care Unit (ICU) will be upgraded, each having at least three ventilators to deal with COVID-19 patients, is not going far enough to manage the virus and improve the dilapidated and primitive healthcare system. Expressed concerns about the hodge podge management of the pandemic and exclusion of other national stakeholders in the fight continue to be ignored, resulting in hurt to the society and people.
Apart from those needing ICU support in the fight against the virus, many (young and old) require care for chronic diseases such as diabetes where they need dialysis treatment but are being forced to forego the same because of cost. It would be good for the government to invest in this and other similar critical care. These could be done by the health centres around the country. This could be one of the greatest reinvestments of the taxpayers’ money.
It is unfortunate in the 21st century where other countries are providing free dialysis care to their citizens. In Guyana people are forced to make choices of receiving treatment, how much they would have to skip because they do not have the money to pay for the treatment, or whether they will forego treatment entirely. It is most unfortunate that the opening of a dialysis centre, adding more ventilators etc., are seen as big event worthy publicity when by now they should be a norm.
The health of Guyanese is still not on safe footing due to absence of proper preventative care, education and resources. Few could afford the yearly checkup, and many do not visit a doctor until extremely sick, including if they feel they might have contracted COVID-19. People have come to ignore signs of feeling unwell or would refer to traditional treatment before ascertaining what is wrong.
Other areas in health care where Guyana is lagging are in cancer treatment, blood pressure and diabetes management, in spite of the prevalence in the society. An ICU is critical care and critical care oftentimes is the result of serious illness or poor preventative care. There is a need to re-prioritise the healthcare system. It needs to be appreciated that health care does not mean sick care.
Guyanese, all throughout Guyana, should be able to access better preventative care at all the state-owned health care facilities. The public health system could do with much needed upgrade, and the ICUs should not be seen as the sole representative of. In resource-rich societies such as ours, persons should not have to choose between foregoing a meal or visiting the doctor. The burden to forego preventative care or decide to delay care because people cannot afford both at the same time should be lifted.