Guyana is prepared for any future pandemic
Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony, during the COVID-19 Update on Thursday, highlighted that the multitude of strategies Guyana has implemented to combat the COVID-19 pandemic will help the country prepare for future pandemics.
These include strengthening the laboratory systems, preparing better diagnostics, training people, strengthening surveillance, decentralising laboratory training, and effective response systems.
The health minister said that people need to be mindful and take precautions against COVID-19.
He said the ministry formed a unit that can conduct rapid response. Within the unit, there are epidemiologists, public health specialists, and infectious disease specialists.
“So, whatever presents itself, we have this team that can go out look at symptoms, look at signs, look at the epidemiology, and then decides on how to respond. Look at signs, look at the epidemiology and then decide how to respond,” the health minister said.
Dr Anthony stated that the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-COV 2, has many variants and sub-variants and it’s continuously mutating, “based on the sub-variants, we will see different types of clinical presentation.”
The health minister highlighted that Guyana is also connected to the International Health Regulatory System. He said if Guyana detects anything new, the country is obligated to report it, “likewise, if anything is happening around the world, that is also reported to us.”
Additionally, Guyana has been working with several multilateral institutions as it relates to pandemic preparedness.
Dr Anthony highlighted that Guyana has had discussions with the Pan American Health Organisation and World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) about strengthening existing systems and developing plans for future pandemic preparedness.
In the Americas, Dr Anthony underlined that Guyana is one of the countries that is a part of the Pandemic Fund. The Pandemic Fund was established by the World Bank to assist countries with access to funds to be able to better prepare for future pandemics.
The board has some $1.4 billion to help countries in this regard.
“Locally, we have also formed, and depending on the illness, we also formed multidisciplinary teams. So, if there’s somebody that is sick, we can have people from different specialities that will be able to come together to work in the interest of that patient. So, there are lots of things that have been put in place. For future pandemics, we would be a little better prepared,” the health minister related.
Over the last 24 hours, 21 new cases have been recorded and four people are in the hospital. Currently, the ministry is tracking 68 cases across the country.
Dr Anthony pointed out, “We are seeing an increase in cases and an increase in hospitalisation. So, people ought to be very careful, and when possible, they should use their masks.”
Lee Yan is a journalist based in Cebu, Philippines. For the past 10 years, he has worked in the media and writes part-time for the St. Vincent Times.