‘Hemispheric action needed to address human resource deficit in the health sector’ – Dr Singh

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh reiterated that the issue of adequate supply of trained health sector professionals cannot be confronted nationally alone but rather regionally, and even hemispherically.

He was at the time speaking at the second high-level meeting of the Economic and Health Dialogue of the Americas (EHA) Initiative in Punta Canta, Dominican Republic on Monday.

Dr Singh, therefore urged for hemispheric action to address human resource deficit in the health sector, which is a hemispheric and even global problem.

While discussing challenges in the region, Dr. Singh pointed out that in countries such as Guyana, where the population density is relatively low, and several communities are remote from the major urban centres, delivering care to the entire population is extremely challenging and expensive.

In this regard, and in keeping with President Ali’s commitment to improving access to and delivery of social services for all Guyanese citizens, the government is building out 12 regional hospitals, and potentially as many as 50 centres with some form of telemedicine capabilities, which will aid in remote diagnosis, potentially allowing for remote treatment.

Further, Dr Singh, in addressing the human resource deficit in the health sector, related that “perhaps the single biggest challenge we face in the health sector is ensuring that we have an adequate supply of suitably skilled doctors and nurses, bearing in mind that we are operating in an environment where the market for skilled medical professionals is a global market and that there is a global shortage of supply of skilled health sector professionals, and therefore, the question of adequate supply of trained health sector professionals cannot be confronted nationally alone, it has to be confronted regionally and even hemispherically.”

In addressing this deficit, he told the gathering that the government of Guyana is investing heavily in the training of health sector professionals including doctors and nurses, building out two new nursing schools, and utilizing online platforms for the delivery of nurse training.

Further, he thanked the relevant agencies of the United States of America government for the leadership they have provided in this hemispheric approach to this most pressing challenge to ensuring that the region is equipped to manage and contain public health risks.

Dr Singh also highlighted the absolute necessity for coordinated hemispheric and multilateral approaches in confronting problems that are multinational, with public health risks being perhaps the most obvious example of such problems, a lesson that would have been learnt from the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting was chaired by the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, U.S. Department of State, Jose W. Fernandez, and was attended by finance and health ministers from across the Americas.

Together, EHA supported by the U.S. State Department and Department of Commerce represents an effort that focuses the region’s governments, private sector and civil society on shared challenges and opportunities to build resilient, inclusive, sustainable, and equitable health economies and ecosystems.