Guyana now has large pool of physical therapists, expanding countrywide coverage

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 June 2024, 20:14 by Writer

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony and (at right) Director of Disability and Rehabilitation Services, Dr. Ariane Mangar at the launch of National Disability and Rehabilitation Week 2024

Guyana is now boasting a significant number of therapists, resulting in several countries being eager to learn about the strategy to do so, according to Director of Disability and Rehabilitation Services, Dr. Ariane Mangar.

“People want what we have and they want to also learn how we were able to [achieve] such a remarkable feat of training our own therapists,” she said at the launch of National Disability Week being observed from June 23- 28 under the theme “Transformative Triumphs: Celebrating the Transformative Triumphs and Successes that Individuals Achieve Through their Rehabilitation Journey”.

Dr Mangar said Guyana now has more than 50 physiotherapists for the first time in Guyana’s history, 12 speech therapists and 17 occupational therapists. The Director of Disability and Rehabilitation Services credited Mrs Barbara Lawrence for providing tutelage.

She also said she was “proud” that each of Guyana’s 10 administrative regions has a professional therapist working in the rehabilitation department. Additionally, she said Region One (Barima-Waini) would have an occupational therapist from July, in addition to the physiotherapist; Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) would have two physiotherapists and an occupational therapist for the first time, and Region Five (Mahaica-West Berbice) would have a speech therapist for the first time. “We are making moves and making strides to improve the service that we’re giving to the regions,” she said.

She also said St Lucia, United Kingdom and more recently The Bahamas have reached out for Guyana to share its experts with them. “I am inundated by calls from my colleagues in the region, asking me to send you to them,” she said.

In addition to the current pool of therapists, Dr Mangar announced that rehabilitation assistants were being trained for Guyana’s 10 administrative regions “aimed at improving access to rehab services” to avoid patients paying for transportation to go to the centre.

At the same time, she appealed to Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony to provide “more space” due to the increasing demand for rehabilitation services. In that regard, Dr Anthony said government would be establishing a facility that would offer disability and rehabilitation services, and screen and test persons who are afflicted by chronic non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. “I think that is something that we have to work on to make sure that our patients get improved services. So, over the next couple of months we’ll try to do that and hopefully when we come again here next year, we can say that we have implemented this service so that we can see improvement in how we manage our patients that have these chronic diseases,” said Dr Anthony, a public health specialist.

Dr Mangar said over the past year, the Department has prescribed more than 1,500 hearing aids and provided prosthetic limbs to more than 150 persons. A hearing aid costs GY$65,000 at privately-owned facilities, but government is providing these free of cost.

Dr Mangar noted that there has been an “influx” of children with various forms of speech delays, impairment and autism as well as adults with post-stroke aphasia, a difficulty in speaking or understanding other people speaking.

The Open Doors Vocational School for persons with disabilities recently graduated 20 students, one of whom is a University of Guyana student and five others employed.