Over $5 billion set aside for cervical cancer, spectacles programme, other measures

As part of the mammoth $110B allocated for the revolutionisation of Guyana’s health sector, the 2024 budget provides some $5.7B to assist Guyanese on several medical fronts.

About $2.8B is set aside to subsidise cervical cancer testing, to benefit approximately 350,000 persons.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony, providing insight into his ministry’s budgetary allocation on Friday at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, said that these measures underscore the importance that the government is placing on supporting vulnerable groups within the sector.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony and other officials from the Ministry in the Committee of Supply during the consideration of the estimates on Friday

Cervical cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in women, and according to the health minister, females must have adequate access to screening.

The government will also launch a special eye care programme this year which will enable children and the elderly to receive vouchers for spectacles, should they need them.

Approximately $1.8B is expected to facilitate this intervention, benefitting almost 600,000 persons.

“Close to $600 million has also been set aside to help persons with coronary heart disease. Last year we spent $577 million helping close to 1500 patients, so I think that this is a very worthwhile expenditure. We have also set aside a sum of $212 million to assist persons who might need things like MRI and CT scans and so forth,” the minister added.

Almost $360M is allocated to assist patients who need dialysis.

The government is partnering with private dialysis centres, in many cases providing accommodation and other conveniences in return for reduced costs. This public-private partnership has allowed for dialysis services to be expanded to Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Four (Demerara-Mahaica), and Ten (Upper Demerara-Berbice), so patients would not have to travel to the city to receive their treatments.

“We also provide them with the utilities, such as water and electricity, and in that way, we can bring down the cost because some of those patients would pay about $10,000 per session,” he explained.

In 2022, the government implemented financial assistance for hemodialysis patients, recognising their need for more spending power as well as expanding the reach of this service. Through this programme, persons who are affected by kidney failure and have end-stage kidney disease receive an annual subsidy of $600,000.

“Another thing is that every three months they would need to have laboratory checks, and we can run those tests for them free of cost. When they have to get the voucher, the doctors would certify that they have end-stage dialysis and we have a register now with patients who have been in the programme. We are able to renew those vouchers,” Dr Anthony outlined.

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