Last Updated on Friday, 13 March 2015, 17:48 by GxMediaHealth Minister, Dr, Bheri Ramsarran on Friday announced that Caribbean countries, now classified as middle income countries, would have to find ways of accessing vaccines at cheaper prices, even as the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) continues to procure some of them at lower than market prices.
Ramsarran made the announcement before joining First Lady Deolatchmie Ramotar in turning the sod for the construction of a new GUY$240 million maternity wing at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).
In addition to care being provided to mothers and newborns by midwives, senior health visitors and community health workers, the Health Minister said government was now spending more on vaccines because Guyana is now classified as a middle-income developing country. “Some of the concessions we had for expensive vaccines and other support are fading,” he said. He noted that in the past when Guyana was a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC), a vaccine would have cost several American cents but now as a middle-income developing country the cost for the same vaccine would be about US$16.
“This is a regional challenge. Guyana can’t shape the vaccine market alone. It has to be a regional issue,” the Health Minister added.
PAHO Representative in Guyana, Dr. William Adu-Krow told Demerara Waves Online News that already the hemispheric organisation has been purchasing vaccines in bulk at lower prices through a revolving fund. “All the countries in the Caribbean pay money to PAHO and PAHO then buys the vaccines in bulk at much-reduced rates and then gives it to the Caribbean countries at no interest, just the face-value and is negotiated for Developing countries by PAHO,” he said.
He cited, as an example, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccines costs US$14 per dose on the market but through PAHO it is about US$5 to US$7.
Dr. Adu-Krow noted that even through the revolving fund, Guyana would be unable to access some of the vaccines at the cheap rate. “Because we buy it for the whole of the Americas, Brazil and now Guyana have graduated from a low-income country to lower middle-income and that means there are some products that we cannot give to Guyana as we give to low income countries but still it’s much better than Guyana buying it on its own,” he said.
Guyana has at least 98 percent coverage for the childhood vaccine-preventable disease.
Chief Executive Officer of GPHC, Michael Khan said when construction of the extension of the Maternity Wing is completed in February 2016, it would house two theatres, a neo-natal Intensive Care Unit, a neo-natal clinic, a doctors-on-call room, a birthing room, training rooms and space for an additional 60 beds.
Of the estimated 17,000 new births annually, about 6,089 were delivered at the GPHC last year.
“No doubt, this is a special investment which will have a particular and personal impact on the future generation of Guyanese people,” he said.
The GPHC is also a teaching institution in association with several overseas institutions including Vanderbilt and Case Western Universities.