Guyana’s health care service, particularly as it relates to the delivery of haemodialysis, is a model to be emulated. At least this is the conviction of Minister of Health of Nevis, Mark Brantley.
Minister Brantley and a team of technical officers from his Health Ministry are currently here on a three-day visit designed to forge collaborative ties with the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) with a view of setting up a Haemodialysis Clinic in Nevis.
Haemodialysis is a procedure administered to renal failure patients to remove metabolic waste products or toxic substances from the bloodstream by dialysis.
Currently, at least, one Nevisian patient who suffers from renal failure is being dialysed at the GPHC. In fact, Minister Brantley said that the patient has been forced to relocate to Guyana for the past year in order to readily access the service.
This is in fact the situation that obtains for a number of similar cases, Minister Brantley said, that are known to attract cost factors, both financially and otherwise, whereby patients are required to be away from their families for extended periods.
Although the renal failure cases in Nevis are currently less than five, Minister Brantley said that “as a Government we have an obligation to our population to see as much as it is feasible to do, to have certain services available to them within the country so that they are not away from their families…”
And so it was against this background, he said, that a decision was made at the Nevis end to undertake what he described as a ‘study tour’ in order to “have the necessary conversations to see how we can further cement the relationship between Guyana and the island of Nevis in terms of health care.”
This has thus far translated to the Nevisian Health Minister, accompanied by his Medical Chief of Staff, Dr. John Essien; Director of Nursing, Ms Aldris Pemberton-Dias and Health Planner, Ms Shelisa Martin-Clarke touring the public hospital.
“We admire in particular the level of training you have here; the training possibilities that exist, and frankly what you have done here with limited resources is nothing short of remarkable based on what we have observed,” said Minister Brantley.
Moreover, he noted that “we feel that our people can benefit from some training and some technical assistance from Guyana and we feel that it is part and parcel of the closer collaboration that we see emerging throughout the Caribbean.”
“I would like to go on record thanking the Honourable Minister of Health here, .Dr. (Bheri) Ramsaran who met us yesterday (Wednesday) and gave us some of his time,” said Minister Brantley as he lauded the support that has been thus far forthcoming. He is optimistic that “this trip is the start of something very good and we can certainly find ways and means to cooperate.”
In fact Minister Brantley, who also has responsibility for a number of other Ministries, and functions in the capacity of Deputy Premier in his country, described the trip here as symbolic in many respects pointing out that the move can be classified as a good one not only for Nevis but also for Guyanese who have relatives there or may be residing there themselves.
Nevis, which is a part of the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis located in the Leewards Islands, is a federal two-island territory in the West Indies that is home to a large number of Guyanese in a population of about 13,500.
“Even though it is the first time for all of us being here, we feel that we know Guyana already…We see street names and places that we recognise from our conversations over the years,” said Brantley as he disclosed that there are some Guyanese who have been residing in Nevis for well over two decades. This, according to him, has over the years allowed for Guyana to benefit economically.
The press conference was moderated by Chief Executive Officer of the GPHC, Mr Michael Khan, who was accompanied by the hospital’s Director of Medical and Professional Service, Dr. Sheik Amir; Director of Nursing Service, Sister Audrey Cory, and Assistant Director of Nursing Service, Sister Noshella Lalckecharran.
According to Khan, “we feel very positive that we can contribute towards helping them set-up their (Haemodialysis) Unit…If I am not mistaken they already have one unit but they need to get their infrastructure in place… to get going.” But ahead of infrastructural support, Khan alluded to need for the facilitation of training, in the near future, for Nevisian nurses.
With the promised support, Dr. John Essien said that the Nevis Health Ministry will undoubtedly be poised to have its own Haemodialysis Unit in place to even cater to the portion of the population that suffers from chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension, both of which can lead to renal failure.
He disclosed that while renal failure can currently be treated through peritoneal dialysis, the need is there for haemodialysis for some of the more ill patients.
“We are hoping that this visit to Guyana will be the beginning of something very concrete on our side in terms of guaranteeing that this service will be maintained in the long run…” said Dr. Essien.