Georgetown, Guyana, 1 June 2021 (PAHO) -- The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Guyana hosted a ceremony that celebrated the donation of COVID-19 medical and non-medical supplies and equipment procured with financial support from the Canadian government’s Caribbean Disaster Risk Management Programme-Health Sector Project and the World Bank`s Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility. The financial support provided through the two programs was intended to assist the Ministry of Health’s response during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ceremony included Guyana’s Ministry of Health and other PAHO partners.
Among the items donated were computers, cellular phones, projectors, printers, hand sanitizers, bleach, Lysol spray and wipes, oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeters, thermometers, face masks, face shields, gloves, and other personal protective equipment.
At the ceremony, Canadian High Commissioner H.E. Mark Berman noted that “Canada is very much committed to doing everything we can to assist in these challenging times. We are providing this lifesaving assistance in the region through PAHO, and we are very pleased to partner with PAHO and others. We see PAHO as a reliable and trusty partner for all of us in this time of crisis, and we know that [PAHO] will work constructively with the government of Guyana to ensure the benefits of the Canadian support are maximized.”
World Bank Operations Officer Hubert Forrester said the Bank’s Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility is one of many efforts to support countries facing challenges due to the pandemic. Mr. Forrester said Guyana received a cash grant of up to U.S. $1 million through the Financing Facility. PAHO assisted with using the grant to procure essential supplies for health care facilities and health care workers.
The grant finances the Health Emergency Operation Centre and key Points of Entry, which are border facilities where essential health services are provided. Mr. Forrester further stated that “through a targeted communications campaign, we were able to share information on the COVID-19 pandemic and provide facts about vaccines and general guidelines for protecting against COVID-19 and encouraging persons to take the vaccine.”
Luis Codina, PAHO/WHO Representative in Guyana, noted that the Preparedness, Research and Response Initiative, a PAHO program that received funding from the Canadian government, provides support for the fight against COVID-19. Dr. Codina expressed profound gratitude to the Canadian government and World Bank for supporting Guyana and for the confidence they placed in PAHO. He also mentioned that the donated items procured with PAHO assistance were just one aspect of support for Guyana’s COVID-19 response. Other aspects include many technical cooperation activities such as capacity building for healthcare workers and development of Standard Operating Procedures for health emergencies and disasters such as the current pandemic.
Minister of Health Frank Anthony responded that the $1 million cash grant and donated items would protect frontline health workers and citizens as the pandemic continues. Dr. Anthony said the funding has greatly enhanced Guyana’s COVID-19 response across the country. “What we are looking at is using the donations we have received and getting [them] out as fast as possible to our health workers so that they can get busy with the job of preventing COVID-19 infection,” he said.
“These grants have started working since September last year, and what we see around us today represents just a small part of what we have been able to buy with these monies. And as fast as we get those things, we have been sending them out to different regions. In the rural hospitals, the ones in Region One, Seven, Eight, and Nine, it is a challenge to move cylinders of oxygen from Georgetown to those communities. You can imagine what the logistics would be like to get oxygen to those communities,” he continued.
Dr. Anthony also expressed gratitude for the assistance. “On behalf of the government of Guyana, we would like to thank the government and people of Canada and the World Bank for the financing that allowed us to procure these supplies and equipment.”
PAHO/WHO, the Canadian Government, and the World Bank pledged their continuous support to the government of Guyana not only in the fight against COVID-19 but also in other areas such as HIV, surveillance, and development of policies, legislation, and strategies for the health sector.