Residents of Orealla and Siparuta took advantage of a health initiative that saw a wide array of specialised health services being brought to them. The outreach was a collaboration between the Ministry of Public Health’s Regional Health Services department collaborated with the Region 6 health department.
Services included Voluntary Counselling and Testing for HIV, Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid screening, Ultrasound Screening, Dental services, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Chronic Diseases clinic and basic testing of blood pressure and blood sugar. Some of the specialists on the team were from the Cuban Medical Brigade in Guyana.
The decision was taken to hold the exercise after it was observed that residents often travelled to the Corentyne Coast to access these services.
The residents welcomed the initiative as some remarked that the costs attached to VIA or Ultrasound screening among other services at private institutions would often deter them from having it done. Through the outreach, they were informed that these services are available free of cost at public health facilities along the coast.
Residents also noted that while health outreaches are hosted quarterly in the community of Orealla, a specialised team of this nature was not a common occurrence. As such, this outreach was beneficial to many residents as it saved them time and money.
Sharmin Smith, a schoolteacher, shared that she wanted to have an Ultrasound done. She believed the service coming to the village was a godsend. “I think it’s beneficial because people don’t have money to pay for these things out on the coast so it should be done regularly.”
Clement Henry, another Orealla resident, also said, “right now for about a week now, I was ill with a terrible cold, and I was having pain in my body and my joints and I was just deciding to catch a boat to go to Corriverton to see a doctor and that would have cost me about 20 to $25,000.” However, with the outreach arriving in his community, he was able to have his checkup without any costs attached.
Orealla is a riverine Indigenous village located just over 50 miles off the Corentyne coast with a population of approximately 1,200 persons; while the nearby village – Siparuta has 450 residents. While the health needs of the two communities vary, the Siparuta residents also requested the specialised health services. Therefore, after wrapping up the exercise in Orealla, the team travelled to Siparuata the next day.
Councillor of Siparuta, Brenda Herman was happy that the doctors took the time to come to her village. “I really appreciate this outreach because lots of persons who are sick are unable to go to Orealla because it’s difficult. Sometimes we don’t have a boat so we have to carry the patients who are unable to walk. We are really happy the doctors came and anytime return to Orealla visit Siparuta as well.”
Director of the Ministry of Public Health’s Regional and Clinical Service Dr Kay Shako noted that the ministry’s vision is for Guyanese to be among the healthiest in the Caribbean. Outreaches like this set out to capture those lagging with poor health statuses and ensure they are properly diagnosed and treated as necessary.
“Our mandate, at the level of regional health services, is to ensure that there is appropriate and adequate health care across all ten regions… It can be challenging at times that is why the Ministry of Public Health would have deliberated and said that in order for us to meet our goals then we have hold outreaches especially in those areas that are remote.”
In January, two similar teams were deployed to Waipa and Karisparu in Region 8. Specialists are scheduled to be a part of outreach teams to Kamarang, Lima Sands and other far-flung communities shortly.