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Health Ministry signs MOU for cervical cancer screening, eye-care programme

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The Ministry of Health has signed several Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with a number of healthcare providers to ramp up Cervical Cancer testing and promote eye care among the vulnerable.

The ministry has partnered with the private sector to ensure that a wide cross-section of society benefits from these initiatives, which are set to roll on Tuesday and Friday in the new week.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony delivering remarks at the signing ceremony held at the ministry’s headquarters

Recognising that early detection is important, $2.8 billion has been earmarked to provide women between the ages of 21 to 65 with an $8,0000 voucher; women are found to be predominantly diagnosed with this type of cancer.

These vouchers are intended to meet the cost of cervical testing and are redeemable at five private institutions:  New Vision Medical Centre, Woodlands Limited, HUIAQI Health Service, Eureka Medical Laboratory and Balwant Singh Hospital.

According tothe Director of Non-Communicable Diseases at the Ministry of Health, Dr Latchmie Lall, in keeping with the World Health Organisation (WHO) target of eliminating cervical cancer by 2030, the government is aiming to screen 211, 000 women.

“The ministry, in all of its deliberations, we came up with a very simple algorithm where we will start, firstly, with HPV testing and that’s why our partners are here today,” she pointed out.

Speaking at the signing ceremony also was the Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony, who underscored the critical role of the private sector in the government’s aim of ramping up testing for cervical cancer.

He went on to stress that for the system to function efficiently, both partners must cooperate and fulfil their respective roles on time.

Cervical Cancer testing vouchers are valid at New Vision Medical Centre, Woodlands Limited, HUIAQI Health Service, Eureka Medical Laboratory and Balwant Singh Hospital

“I think what is also very important here is that for the first time, we are working with such a large private sector group, and while we don’t envisage any difficulty, we would all have to work on building this relationship together,” he said.

The minister added, “The other thing that we’ll try to do as we roll out this programme, we will convene meetings at different points in time where we’ll ask you to come so that if there’s any difficulty, any challenges that you’re finding, maybe you’re not responding in time or whatever it is, that we’ll be able to pick these things up and fix them before they become a major problem.”

In relation to the National Eyecare Programme, a $3,000 voucher will be provided to persons in need of an eye test. Subsequently, if they require a spectacle, they will receive a $15,000 voucher.

“We are not covering the full cost …we are only contributing $15,000 to that cost…When you do the screening, if you find that they have other types of problems that cannot be rectified with the spectacles…whether it’s a cataract or something else, then we can then put them through a different programme,” the minister stressed.

These eyecare vouchers are valid at Da Silva’s Optical, Miracle Vision Care, Regina’s Optical, Courts Optical, Optique Vision Care, Dr Balwant Singh Hospital, Doobay-Gafoor Medical & Research Centre, Eye Max Optical, Bhagwan’s Optical, Optical Works, Mings Optical and Eye Care Guyana.

Miracle Optical, Modern Optical, Sears 20/20 Vision, Optiek Ninon Guyana, Len’s Optical Designers, Woodlands Limited, Optical World, Express Optical, Eyewear Optical, Revision Optical, Sheriff General Hospital and Da Silva’s House of Optics are also approved institutions.

Some $840 million has been earmarked in the national budget for the eye tests and $995 million to subsidise spectacles cost.

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