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Workshop To Help Reintegrate Ex-Sugar Workers Into Society

THE Men’s Health Unit of the Public Health Ministry and GUYSUCO teamed up last week to train medical, clerical and administrative staff of the latter who will help ex-sugar workers reintegrate into the society.
The workshop was part of broader initiatives to targeting some 4000 recently-retrenched Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) workers some of whom MOPH Men’s Health Coordinator, Dr Dennis Bassier said have fallen into a destructive lifestyle.
Bassier said that though the number of unemployed former GUYSUCO employees has decreased with the reopening of one of the sugar estates, the programme is gathering momentum because the Ministry has realised the some affected persons have “gone on to engage in lifestyles that are not desirable as it relates to their health.”
Dr Bassier and Ms Bonita Harris, a Consultant/ Educator who has done extensive work in men’s and adolescent health over the last years, spearheaded the 5-day MOPH/GUYSUCO training scheme which was held at the National Public Health Reference Laboratory.
The skills-enhancing workshop targeted workers attached to various health centres and sugar estates in Essequibo Islands/West Demerara (Region 3); Demerara/Mahaica (Region 4); Mahaica/Berbice (Region 5) and East Berbice /Corentyne (Region 6).
In his assessment, Dr Bassier said “we actually see this programme as necessary, going forward to actually assist them (sugar workers) in their specific health-needs as well as their social lives which will be impacting them more than their physical health.”
He said the workshop, which is the first of its kind, will better prepare participants and make them more tolerant of the issues facing men not only in the sugar industry but those accessing health care from the broader health sector. Bassier is confident that the beneficiaries of the workshop, are now skilled to organise in-house trainings and offer sensitisation sessions on men’s health at their workplaces.
One of the participants, Roy Porter, a Field Auditor from Enmore Estate described the workshop as impactful and one which raised awareness on a number of issues which will aid his personal growth and development and transform him into a better employee.
“From this men’s health work, I’ve learnt a lot especially about self-awareness. Coming into this workshop I thought I knew a lot about myself but in the end I found out didn’t. Being self-aware is the first step in helping people and self-management is important”, Porter admitted.
He is hopeful that GUYSUCO and the MOPH will sustain the current programme and offer more training/ workshops on health related issues affecting men.

GUYSUCO-MOPH training programme participants

Meanwhile, Samantha De Freitas, Midwife attached to Mahaica/Berbice Cottonfield Health Centre said the workshop has equipped her with a wide array of knowledge, which has now motivated her to launch a men’s health clinic at the health centre by mid-May 2018.
“This workshop is very beneficial to me, as I thought I was coming to do chronic illness and diabetes that affect men but instead we had presentations on erectile dysfunction and prostate cancer which are very common among men”. De Freitas said.
The Men’s Health Unit was first established in 2015 through the Maternal and Child (MCH) Programme at the MOPH. A major role is to help sensitise men nationwide about their health.

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