UN doctors join Guyana HIV/AIDS fight- in historic international stintSaturday, October 8, 2005 – 12:19 pm
Source: Guyana Chronicle
NINE overseas volunteer doctors have joined the fight in Guyana against the deadly HIV/AIDS disease under the United Nations Volunteer (UNV) programme in an historic international stint.
They yesterday formally began their attachment to the Health Ministry at a ceremony in Georgetown and will be deployed for the next two years around the country, officials said.
Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown, Mr Michael Thomas, said this is the first time anywhere in the world that UN volunteer physicians have been recruited en masse, specifically to work in an HIV/AIDS care and treatment programme.
He said the nine volunteers have all completed the training provided by the U.S. Centres for Disease Control at the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Centre of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
Thomas added that the U.S. Government is proud to be a partner with the UN volunteer programme.
He noted that the goals of President George W. Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief in Guyana are:
- to assist the government and other collaborative partners to prevent 15,000 new HIV infections;
- to enable almost 2,000 persons to receive anti-retroviral treatment,
- and to provide quality care for at least 13,000 persons by 2008.
One of the greatest challenges in achieving these goals in Guyana, he said, is the lack of enough experienced, well-trained and qualified medical specialists to carry out the programmes, especially in view of the rapid scale-up of the HIV treatment programme under way.
Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy is especially heartened at the landmark attachment.
“We hope that by the time you leave here, Guyana can be held up not only as a good example in the fight against HIV, but as a success story, one that has reversed the HIV problem”, he told the group.
He hailed the UNV deployment as an innovative aspect in the anti-HIV/AIDS fight in Guyana.
Yesterday’s ceremony took place at the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Centre of New Jersey Guyana Office, on Duke and Barrack Streets, Kingston.
The nine volunteers are: Dr Carmen Torres of Nicaragua, Dr Esther Vitto of Sierra Leone, Dr Cornelia Ndifon of Nigeria, Dr Nagesh Shirgoppikar of India, Dr Frederick Sinyinza of Zambia, Dr Christopher Wandira and Dr Sam Siduda of Uganda, Dr George Muriithi of Kenya and Dr Abel Addalla of Sudan.
They will serve at the New Amsterdam Hospital, the West Demerara Hospital, the Campbellville Health Centre, the Suddie Hospital, the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), Paediatric Ward/GUM Clinic, the Linden Hospital, the Skeldon Hospital, and the GPHC HIV-TB/Medical Ward and Regional Health Services, Ministry of Health.
Another volunteer from India will join the batch soon.
“They are here to strengthen the health sector, not only in its fight against HIV/AIDS. They will be integrated into the sector helping to train and to develop new approaches”, Ramsammy said.
He added that Guyana can only benefit from the diverse experience of these volunteers.
Dr Abdalla will be assigned to the Regional Health Services Department within the Ministry of Health.
He will be sent out every week to various unserved areas to provide training as well as see patients for HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and infectious diseases in general, Ramsammy said. (DELANA ISLES)