Guyana Medical Council to punish doctors who discourage COVID-19 vaccination

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 September 2021, 14:30 by Denis Chabrol

The Guyana Medical Council (GMC) on Thursday warned doctors not to discourage vaccination against the potentially deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) and instead promote the use of alternative remedies whose efficacy have been unproven.

The GMC said it has adopted a decision taken by the umbrella body of medical councils in the United States (US).  “The Medical Council of Guyana  supports the position taken by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) that proposes to take the disciplinary action against any certified doctor who spreads disinformation about the COVID 19 disease and vaccines,” the GMC said in a statement.

Saying that the COVID-19 vaccines are  safe, effective and widely available, the GMC said doctors who criticise vaccines would be misconducting themselves. “Physicians who use their position of authority to denigrate vaccination at a time when vaccines continue to demonstrate excellent effectiveness against severe COVID 19 illness, hospitalization and death are not only constitutionally unethical but also unprofessional and dangerous,” the Council said.

A well-placed source estimated that about five doctors in Guyana have been acting in a manner that discourages the use of vaccines although the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in January 2020.

While physicians in Guyana have stayed current in their fields of interest by submitting annual Continuing Medical Education (CME) sessions for re-licensure, the GMC said they risked acting against the best interest of the health of people. “However, any doctor who spreads disinformation, misinformation and falsehoods to the public during a time of Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) goes against what we represent. COVID 19 is a potentially  lethal illness.”

The GMC said doctors are held accountable for their decisions and actions, and anyone who violates his or her professional rules would be committing a breach. “Any doctor who provides disinformation about the COVID 19 disease and vaccines contradicts our ethical and professional responsibilities. Expertise does matter as facts outweigh opinions,” the body said.

The Guyanese licensing and regulatory body for doctors said those professionals must not advocate treatments that would not help patients.  “We have all sworn to uphold The Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm” and as such we should not promulgate treatments that are demonstrably ineffective and harmful,” the Council here said.

In commending the “good work” by doctors to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the GMC cited the need for physicians to fight the viral disease based on solid and updated proof.

The Medical Council said this grave medical emergency requires our community of physicians to continue their commitment to science, the art and practice of evidence-based medicine and the provision of the very best, most accurate and timely information available to their patients and families.