“The need for higher training in clinical areas in post-graduate certification in the clinical specialties is becoming more pressing here in Guyana because of the continuing migration of doctors seeking, among other things, post-graduate training in the first instance and continued national dependence this country has on expatriate specialists at the consultative level,” he said.
He was at the time addressing the graduation ceremony of 93 Guyanese doctors who were trained in Cuba through a scholarship programme between Guyana and that Spanish-speaking Caribbean island. Of that number, 17 graduated with honours.
Norton explained that that the decision has been taken because evidence shows that many Guyanese doctors leave for other countries to pursue post-graduate studies instead of waiting until another five years. He hoped that the deployment of the doctors at large and medium hospitals across the country rather that in small health centres in remote interior locations was part of a plan for them to gain more experience for and during post graduate studies almost immediately. “Residency education is essentially training on the job. Doctors are engaged in service-delivery while training and this service delivery is similar to that which is provided by a Government Medical Officer but in the case of residency you have greater accountability and supervision and this you do as you progress upwards in your training programmes increasing your knowledge and skills- that is what I support,” he said.
He identified the need to expand the post graduate training with the aim of reducing maternal and child and infant mortality by having a larger pool of Guyanese gynaecologists, paediatricians and other specialists. “That is when we are going to bring it down to a level that places us far below where we are at the moment because we have got advantages in post-graduate training,” he said.
Evidence shows, he said, that since the commencement of post graduate training in specialized areas of human medicine more Guyanese doctors have been staying longer than five years instead of one year to 18 months. Post graduate studies are being offered in surgery, emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, internal medicine, orthopedics, anesthesia, and family medicine. Masters in Psychiatry and Public Health are to be offered shortly.
The Public Health Minister announced the assignment of the doctors: 14 in New Amsterdam, 14 in West Demerara, 10 in Suddie, eight in Linden and 46 at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon magnanimously acknowledged the presence of former Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon who was present for his daughter’s graduation and the Cuban scholarship programme as a legacy of the then People’s Progressive Party Civic administration. “We are proud to have actually inherited this programme from the previous administration and we do hope, in handing over in many, many years to come, that we will be able to hand over a programme that is even stronger than the one we took over,” said Harmon who is Luncheon’s successor.
So far, 558 Guyanese have been trained in human medicine since Guyana and Cuba signed the scholarship agreement in 2000. As of 2002, the medical students complete their sixth and final year in Guyana under the instruction of members of the Cuban Medical Brigade.