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School health screening packages to be rolled out in 2023

Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony

The Ministry of Health will be collaborating with the Ministry of Education to roll out the "School Base Package" in 2023 to screen every child for their eyes, ears and dentals along with other nutrition elements.

The Ministry of Health started an initiative earlier this year to provide screening and distribution of hearing aids free of cost to persons who need them across Guyana.

This initiative began after realising that most persons in need of hearing aids were paying between $60,000 to $65,000.

Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony says, while it was expected that mainly older adults would have accessed it, this initiative revealed that a large number of children were in need of this service.

Because of this, the Minister plans to collaborate with the Ministry of Education next year to roll out packages to provide each child with a set of screening measures for when they enter Primary Education and Secondary Education.

“Another programme that we have in the Ministry that we’re working on is a school base programme. We will offer to every school child, starting from next year, a set of screening measures. This would include checking the child’s eye to see whether they have good sight, checking their ear to make sure that they’re hearing well and also doing a dental check-up for them. There will be some other things we will be doing on nutrition and so forth.”

This will help the Ministry to better assess the health status of children across Guyana.

The Minister was at the time speaking at the launch of National Week of Persons with Disabilities, where he highlighted all strides made to expand and improve services in Disability and Rehabilitation.

The Health Ministry, through its various programmes, was able to provide much aid such as wheelchairs, walking sticks, and other items free of cost to persons who needed them.

The Government has also distributed one-off cash grants for persons with disabilities, training and better access to services.

Dr Anthony added that the Ministry was recently able to create a new classroom space for children with autism at Ptolemy Reid, and plans to create more of these spaces in the near future.

“We also know that there are a number of children who for one reason or another might be diagnosed with autism or some persons might be on that autistic spectrum. Through our programmes, we have started to expand those services right here at Ptolemy Reid.”

The Minister said they are currently working to reduce the cost for prosthetic limbs, or provide them for free moving forward.

He is also working towards providing artificial joints for persons in need of joint replacements, and plans to train local surgeons in carrying out these procedures.

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