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Kaieteur News headline for Sunday, December 18 is as follows: “Government tells IDB not to disclose all information on $97M loan for Health Sector”. This statement is a complete lie. There is no need to be diplomatic. The Ministry of Health (MOH) completely rejects the headline and unequivocally makes it clear that the MOH has never requested the IDB to not disclose any information relating to this project. It is not just nonsense, but another desperate attempt by Kaieteur News to create its own ulterior and wicked narrative.
Beyond the misleading headline, KN then proceeded to state all the details of the loan that the headline claimed the government asked not to be disclosed. On December 7th, the Board of the IDB approved a project as part of a $160M CLIP loan. The project is for $97M. The $97M loan has three components, all of which KN reported from information that the IDB published. Component 1 is an infrastructure project which will see new construction and upgrading of seven hospitals. The hospitals to be reconstructed or upgraded include four hinterland hospitals and KN had that information which it reported. Outside of the hinterland hospitals which the government had indicated for about a year, the other hospitals included in the project are Linden Hospital, New Amsterdam Hospital and GPHC.
Component 2 will continue to build on digital health and expand telemedicine in the country. Guyana recently piloted a telemedicine programme which was widely reported by the media, including KN. This pilot will be expanded by robust government investments, including from this IDB project. Outside of the teleconsulting health programme which the government recently has been piloting in four remote health posts in Region 9, the IDB project expects to see the program expanding to remote health posts and centres around the country, in addition to ensuring that all hospitals and polyclinics with diagnostic imaging becomes part of the teleradiology programme and that up to twenty centres become part of the teleophthalmology programme.
Component 3 will focus on health system strengthening, including strengthening the supply chain and ensuring that the package of services which the Ministry published earlier is rolled out across the country, strengthening the government’s push for equity.
The details of the reconstruction and upgrading have not yet been developed, as this will be part of the project. Technical consultants will be contracted to develop the reconstruction and upgrading work to be done. However, the government has already indicated that every region and several sub-regions in the hinterland will see hospitals reconstructed and upgraded to be able to deliver Level 4 services. The government has indicated that for this project the upgrading and reconstruction of hinterland hospitals and Linden Hospital will be a priority.
This loan is adding to the government’s overall drive to transform the health sector. Every hospital in Guyana will be upgraded as part of the total transformation of the health sector that the Government announced in August 2020.
Already work has started on the construction of six hospitals in a project with China. In addition, the construction of a Children and Maternal hospital in Ogle has also started. Work had started to reconstruct Bartica, West Demerara and Suddie Hospitals. More than $1.5B was invested in Budget 2022 to upgrade health posts and health centres.
KN continues to be mischievous, misrepresenting, misinterpreting and misinforming the public using announcements from the IDB. Previously, KN had used information published this year by IDB from studies done in 2018/2019 as findings from this year. Not only did KN not inform the public that the information was from 2018/2019, but they failed to inform the public that they were given a comprehensive walk-through of the report by the MOH. More recently, they reported that the IDB had placed Guyana second to last for access to COVID-19 health care. They failed to say that this was from a report in 2020 when Guyana, because of the recklessness and sloth of the APNU/AFC government, had not put together any sensible COVID-19 response. They failed to tell the public that since 2020, the PPP government, led by President Irfaan Ali, had completely reversed that situation and developed an internationally-acknowledged robust response.
Given the fact that all information that is usually published by IDB when a new project has been agreed to has been published by the IDB and reported by KN and other news outlets, the blazing, misleading headline in KN for December 18, 2022, must be seen as a deliberate attempt to misinform and create mischief. We reject completely this recklessness.
Public Relations/Health Promotion Unit
Ministry of Health