PANCAP News-in the caribbean

Reducing health challenges faced by women

The Ministry of Health in Guyana is committed to reducing the challenges faced by women in accessing health services.
According to Dr. Bheri Ramsaran, Ministry of Health, Guyana while there are many success that have been recorded by the Ministry, he still remains concerned about the many challenges that women face in the health care sector..
“Maternal mortality rates and HIV rates among young women are still too high, tobacco consumption among women is increasing, sexual and other forms of gender-based violence continue to be widespread, and there is an increasingly heavy burden of non-communicable diseases on women,” he said.
Dr. Ramsaran noted that the Ministry of Health is extremely concerned about this situation and has already aggressively introduced new services and programmes to address these issues. “Cognizant of the fact that women’s health is a developmental issue, emphasis has always been placed on gender matters. As such, every policy, strategy and/or plan formulated by the Ministry is reflective of this commitment,” he noted.
He outlined some of the successes that the Ministry has recorded as it relates to the provision of health services to women. These include the Maternal and Child Health Unit (MCH) which comprises of a robust vaccination and reproductive health programme. The MCH, Dr. Ramsaran said is a success story and is being utilized as a ‘best practice’ in many countries around the world.
Additionally, he said earlier in March 2012, Guyana was lauded by the GAVI alliance for its efficient vaccination coverage. “Our country now offers some 20 vaccines and has attained in excess of 95 percent coverage throughout the country. The latest addition to our arsenal of vaccines is the vaccine against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). This is a game-changer in the fight against cervical cancer. The future of our girls is further protected,” he noted. He said that there has been an overwhelming response from women and girls alike who are seeking to be vaccinated against HPV.   
He also noted the success of Guyana’s Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV programme which he said has achieved great milestones. According to UNAIDS’ “Keeping the Score III”, the PMTCT programme is one of Guyana’s greatest achievement in the HIV and AIDS response. There is an 89.8 percent HIV testing acceptance rate and 95.8 percent of HIV positive women are receiving a complete course of anti-retroviral treatment (ART) for PMTCT.
Guyana’s PMTCT programme falls under  Priority Area 3 – Prevention of HIV Transmission - of the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework (CRSF) 2008- 2012, which guides the work of the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP). The CRSF takes a more country-centered approach, recognizing that success in individual country programmes is essential for overall regional success in achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. Under Priority Area 3 there is a renewed emphasis on prevention as the most cost-effective approach, using evidence based programmes to enable access to services by most-at-risk populations (MARPs).    
Allison Ali