Helping to Make Universal Healthcare Work in Guyana
The Guyanese constitution mandates the universal right to healthcare. How, in practice, does that work, in a country in which 90% of the population lives in one city? How can cost-effective medical care be provided to smaller communities miles from the capital of Georgetown, reachable primarily by plane or boat? On a recent trip to Guyana, Program Officer Marisol Valentin took this photo of the approach to Georgetown, perched on the edge of the continent.
“Access to care is driving our presence in Guyana,” said Marisol after her trip to review previous projects and assess new ones. While traveling, Marisol saw a pregnant woman with a small child transferring from boat to boat mid- river to reach Georgetown Public Hospital. If healthcare facilities far from Georgetown lack resources, the population must travel to receive care – a difficult and expensive undertaking.
One recent project, in collaboration with the Guyanese Ministry of Health, Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, and the WONDOOR program at Cleveland’s UH MacDonald Women's Hospital, is making long-term improvements in the country’s maternal/infant health. This is the pre- and post-natal ward at Georgetown Public Hospital.
Before this collaborative project was completed, there was no operating room in the labor suite. If a woman in labor required an emergency c-section, she had to be transported on a gurney across a busy street to a separate building, a perilous and time-consuming journey. Georgetown Public Hospital is the main hospital for any complicated delivery.
Now, patients requiring c-sections, whether emergency or planned, can be taken directly into surgery from the labor suite. Just before Marisol’s recent visit, triplets were born in the new OR, where most of the furnishings and equipment came from Global Links. This photo is of the first c-section performed in the new operating room.
It was a healthy boy.
The WONDOOR program is also providing resources for the first OB-GYN residency program in Guyana, which Global Links helped to facilitate. This successful project serves as a replicable model for multinational clinical and public health collaborations between institutions in the United States and public health systems of targeted countries.
We often emphasize the impact of donations on patient care, but the medical staff feels it as well. Sister June Cato, in the peach dress, shown here with Marisol and staff of the maternity ward, manages the labor and delivery suite and has requested Global Links’ assistance in improving the patient intake area so that it looks as nice – and works as well - as the rest of the ward.
While centered in Georgetown, this comprehensive project raises the standard of healthcare for women throughout Guyana by providing specialized OB/GYN training to doctors who then serve in hospitals far from the capital. Marisol took this photo of Annai, a typical town in Guyana, on the way to Lethem Hospital, located southwest of Georgetown, on the border with Brazil.
Global Links has worked with Suddie Hospital, just north of Georgetown but accessible primarily by boat, since 2010. Marisol saw this neonatal stethoscope from Global Links in use when she went to assess the impact of previous projects and plan future ones.
Suddie is an important regional hospital, and a good steward of Global Links donations, such as the patient room furnishings shown here.
Nurses at Bartica stopped their work and put on fresh caps before Marisol took their picture. As we plan future projects in Guyana , our goal is to help them realize their own philosophy of universal access to care, something in which they – and we – can take great pride.