On Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 October, the Surinamese Minister of Health, Dr. Amar Ramadhin, attended a Two-Day Virtual Orientation Meeting organized by the headquarters of the Pan American Health Organization, based in Washington DC.
The PAHO/WHO Representative in Suriname, Dr. Karen Lewis-Bell, the Director of Public Health, Dr. Rakesh Gajadhar Sukul, Deputy Directors of Health, Dr. Ritesh Dhanpat, Ms. Tania Sanrochman and Ms. Diana Koswal also joined the Minister during the orientation sessions, that were held using the Zoom platform. Normally, the Minister and the Director of Health would visit the PAHO office in Washington DC to attend an in-person orientation, which is usually done for newly appointed Ministers of Health after they have been in office for at least one year. However, due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions, the decision was made to conduct the orientation virtually.
The Director of PAHO, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, opened the meeting and welcomed the Minister and Director of Public Health and other members of his team. During the two days, the program Department Directors at PAHO presented an overview of the structure and priorities within their departments. From the Surinamese delegation, the Director of Public Health, Dr. Sukul, presented an overview of Suriname as a country as well as an overview of the current situation in terms of healthcare. Dr. Lewis-Bell also presented an overview of the technical cooperation PAHO has been providing to further improve public health and related issues such as the response to COVID-19 in Suriname over the past two years.
“PAHO is one of the main partners of the Ministry of Health. PAHO provides technical support to their member countries and helps in various ways in the form of projects to strengthen health care. Last week, I had a virtual orientation with the leadership of PAHO in Washington DC, in the presence of the PAHO/WHO Representative in Suriname, Dr. Karen Lewis-Bell. Agreements were made and a start is being made on the Country Cooperation Strategy”, said Minister Ramadhin after the virtual orientation concluded.
Dr. Lewis-Bell has stated that “It is important for new Ministers of Health to be oriented to how PAHO works as well as the background to, and mechanisms used to provide technical cooperation to the country. In this way, there is a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of PAHO and the Ministry of Health in working together to strengthen health systems and care in Suriname.”
On Monday 4 October, Dr. Lewis-Bell also officially handed over a technical report supported by PAHO entitled “Assessment of Current Models for the Management of Chronic Conditions at the First Level of Care in Suriname”. The goal of this assessment was to identify strengths, lessons learnt and any gaps within the currently utilized models for the management of chronic conditions at the first level of care in Suriname. This information will be used to guide the further development of the Chronic Care Model and inform areas for strengthening and strategies to replicate aspects of the WHO package of essential noncommunicable (PEN) disease interventions for primary health care across Suriname.
“Prevention is high on our priority list for reducing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) e.g. diabetes, hypertension etc. I received the advisory report on prevention of NCDs in primary care from Dr. Karen Lewis-Bell, the PAHO/WHO Representative. We will now move on to working on the advice given”, stated Minister Ramadhin.