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Canadian medical experts training local doctors in asthma education

Dr. Robert D. Levy of the University of British Colombia making a presentation on the asthma education programme

The Ministry of Health through the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) in collaboration with the University of British Colombia, LIBIN Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta and the Institute ofHealth Science Education, today launched the first Spirometry Lab and Asthma/Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) education programme at the GPHC.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) reported that the Spirometry Lab and Asthma Education Programme are the first components in the development of an innovative integrated chronic disease management strategy for patients with common chronic diseases such as heart failure, COPD, chronic kidney disease and diabetes.

This programme is pioneered by Dr. Robert Levy with support from other technicians out of Canada and Dr. Kishan Narine and Dr. Debra Isaacs. It is intended to train Dr. Kumarie Jaipersaud, Dr. Radha Luknauth, Dr. Dev Persaud, Mr. Ron Morris and Mr. Esofa Piggott.

The opening of the lab is the newest phase in the evolving Canada-Guyana partnership for Health Care Development. This highly successful collaboration saw the establishment of the GPHC Echocardiography Programme in 2011.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shamdeo Persaud said that this programme is part of the bigger picture of the development of the Ministry’s “Health vision for 2020” which is in its final stages.

He explained that Guyana has a very rapidly growing economy with a population that is now demanding access to information pertaining to human factor benefits. ‘There are things that we can do and some of the areas of pronouncement that Government has made on health, made us feel like we’re on the roll to achieve what is called health in all policies”.

Dr. Persaud said the various new facilities in the country such as the Lethem, Linden and Mabaruma Hospitals, are among others which are continuously growing and developing and persons need to utilise them. He further pointed out that more doctors from over seas should be placed at these hospitals allowing better health care services for patients.

“Educating our patients is so critical, public education in the strategy itself helps literacy …if you look at literacy information globally you will find that Guyana is doing pretty well with reading etc”, added Dr. Persaud.

He said there are some important measures that need to be in place and proffered that many asthma patients are suffering from the type that is triggered by conditions which could be considered allergies.

“Guyana stands at number 88 just behind two other Caribbean countries….Trinidad, Jamaica and all our other Caribbean countries are way behind based on asthma,” added Dr. Persaud.

Dr. Levy pointed out that two respiratory therapists have been brought in from Canada to help train persons locally.

Talking about asthma, he said, “although there is no cure for asthma, appropriate management that includes a partnership between the health care team and the patient most often results in the achievement of excellent control and a normal lifestyle”.

Asthma is a very common lung condition affecting more than one in ten Guyanese ranging from infants to the elderly. Asthma has a huge impact on the health of the patient causing breathlessness, wheezing and coughing.