Georgetown, Guyana – (September 8, 2016) Cabinet has granted its approval for the award of a $74.4 million contract to Builders Hardware and Quality Timber Project Company for the expansion and capacity building at the Leonora Diagnostic Centre (LDC) so that the centre can be upgraded to a maternity care facility. This upgrade will now see women being able to access the full range of maternity services, both pre-birth and post-delivery health care, at the facility and is intended to ease the burden on the maternity ward at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).

This announcement was made by Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon at this week’s post-Cabinet press briefing, which was held at the Ministry of the Presidency, earlier today, and comes after President David Granger’s visit to the GPHC’s maternity ward last December, where he was appalled at the conditions he witnessed. Early this year, the President visited the Diamond and Leonora Diagnostic Centres, where he explored opportunities for providing more maternity centres so that pregnant women would have more options for pre and post delivery care.

Minister Harmon said that Government, under the stewardship of President Granger, is committed to ensuring that the quality of healthcare, which is available to women at the public health care institutions, is greatly improved.

“This project at the expansion of the Leonora Diagnostic Centre arose out of a concern, which was expressed by His Excellency when he visited the maternity ward of the GPHC. His major concern at that time was the condition under which pregnant women were treated and in the manner in which they were making deliveries… He called upon the Minister of Public Health and myself to go around and find a proper place where some extension in the hospital can cater to maternity cases to deal with the conditions under which women were required to give birth. The LDC was one of the areas, which has been identified that has the space and can be, with some adjustment, be able to provide that facility so that the women who are coming from Bartica and Regions 2, 3, 7, 8 and other places that they don’t have to come to Georgetown,” Minister Harmon said.

Those visits by the President were designed to give him a first-hand look at some of the challenges faced by both health providers and patients. In an invited comment at that time, the President had noted that the fact finding mission provided the Government with an idea of the capacity for the expansion of maternity facilities to other locations.

“We wanted to see the challenges that face the ordinary patients who came in off the road; mothers particularly, and we want to see what measures needed to be put in place in order to provide a better quality health care,” President Granger had said on his visit to the Centres.

With this focus in mind, the Government, in 2015 had allocated $23.2B to the health sector to ensure that the delivery is much improved with $133.1M of the sum being spent on the upgrading and equipping of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) in an effort to increase the capacity of the Maternity unit by 50 beds. In 2016, $28B or 10.9 percent of the National Budget was allocated to the sector.

Subsequently in April 2016, the President commissioned a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Bartica Regional Hospital, which was upgraded to become a full-fledged regional maternity facility, within his first eight months in office.

The Bartica Regional Hospital caters not only for Region Seven residents, but also those from areas like Saxacalli, Essequibo Islands – West Demerara (Region Three), River’s View, Upper Demerara-Berbice (Region 10) and more recently, residents of Parika, who choose to travel to Bartica rather than to the city.

Works are expected to be undertaken at various other institutions in the coming months, as the Government continues to push for quality healthcare, especially for women and children.

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