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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Gov’t releases funds to fight HIV/AIDS among prison population

Georgetown, GINA, September 12, 2007

Government’s commitment to provide treatment and care for persons infected with HIV/AIDS went a further step today with over $119,000 presented to the Guyana Prison Service (GPS) to provide resources for HIV/AIDS preventive measures and treatment.
            The cheque which was provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs represents the first disbursement of a $2M provision for the purchase of nutritional supplements to promote the care and support of prisoners infected with HIV/AIDS.  The funds are part of a Government and World Bank project “HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Project”.



Minister Rohee said Government is committed to ensuring that measures are in place to protect and care for every Guyanese, and prisoners should not be deprived of this facility.
            “We cannot recognise any frontier. This struggle has to be fought from all fronts including the struggle where persons are deprived of their freedom and may have been infected at some point in time. Then it is quite natural for steps to be taken to provide them with the requisite treatment whether it’s preventive or otherwise in order for them to remain healthy for as along as possible in the environment,” Minister Rohee said.



            “I believe that the fight against HIV/AIDS within the prison system is an extremely important issue and any amount of resources that are to be in this respect ought to be welcomed. I am absolutely positive and confident that the Guyana Prison Service will utililise the resources to the optimum. I note that there are specific purposes to which the funds are to be used and I think the prisoners themselves will benefit tremendously from these products,” Minister Rohee asserted.
            Director of Prisons Dale Erskine expressed gratitude to the Government for its continued support.
            “We will use this cheque to ensure that they (prisoners) are taken care. There are many other things happening in the Guyana Prison Service in terms of health care. We have more medex in the system. There is currently a survey being conducted by the Ministry of Health in terms of understanding the nature of an HIV manifestation in the prison,” Erskine said.
            There will be a model for mainstreaming the management of the pandemic in the Prison Service which will seek to embrace a multi-faceted prevention strategy to protect prisoners from contracting infectious diseases, particularly the HIV virus, and the provision of care and support to prisoners living with the disease.
            The model’s three main features are: Introduction of a ‘Health Orientation Promotion Programme’ for the two admission prisons in Guyana, ‘Establishment of a Voluntary Counselling and Testing Site’ at the Georgetown Prison, and ‘pre-release Counselling’.           

Quotes

Rohee- I believe that the fight against HIV/AIDS within the prison system is an extremely important issue and any amount of resources that are to be in this respect ought to be welcome. I am absolutely positive and confidence that the Guyana prison service will utililise the resources to the optimum. I note that there are specific proposes to which the funds are to be used and I think the prisoners themselves will benefit tremendously from these products when they are purchased and used within the walls of the prisons. I feel that in this fight we cannot regonise any frontier this struggle has to be fought from all front including the struggle where persons are deprive of their freedom and may have been infected at some point in time and then if that is the case then it is quite natural for steps to be taken to provide them with the requisite treatment whether it’s preventive or otherwise in order for them to remain healthy for as along as possible in the environment where they may be I this instance the GPS.I look forward for positive results coming as a result of the usitlisaiton of these resources.

Erskine

We recognize that our inmates are vulnerable to some extent when it comes to HIV. I am happy for this collaboration to reduce this vulnerability   to a manageable state. The project proposal will defiantly impact in a very positive way and it will allow us to educate, sensitise them and care for them while there are in prison. We have a responsibility to ensure that they are care for. We will use this cheqto ensure that they are taken care. There are many other things happening in the Guyana prison service in terms of health care. We have more medex in the systems. There are currently a survey being conducted by the Ministry of health in terms of understanding the nature of a HIV manifestation in the prison. So are now tyrign to settle things down I know we are accountable for the resources given to us. 

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Interior road programme will create linkages, improve living standards  

Georgetown, GINA, September 12, 2007.

Government’s programme to strengthen the linkage between coastal and hinterland communities has resulted in significant investments being made to construct and upgrade roads in many remote areas.
This vision is being further pursued under the current interior road programme that has been allocated approximately $800M. This will create easier access to some of the country’s distant communities, enhance living standards and reduce transportation costs for the movement of persons and goods.
The 72-Mile Potaro and the Linden-Kwakwani-Ituni roads have being identified for major upgrading under this programme which is expected to start within the next three months, Minister of Transport and Hydraulics Robeson Benn disclosed.
Tender documents for upgrading of the roads are currently being prepared while equipment are being sourced to enhance the Ministry of Public Works and Communications’ capacity to effect the work. This will also cater for maintenance of roads that have been previously upgraded.
Minister Benn noted that there are many requests and identification of various roads that need improvement. It is expected that the programme will start within the next two to three weeks.
“Some efforts have been expended over the years on interior roads but this is a renewed effort to bring more improvement and better infrastructural access in the interior,” the Minister said.
Dr. Roger Luncheon at his weekly press briefing on August 30 announced that the Cabinet had granted its no-objection to the allocation of $800M to facilitate rehabilitation of roads in the hinterland communities. A significant portion of the allocation would be used to procure equipment for road rehabilitation.
The programme is finalised by various key stakeholders such as the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, the Guyana Forestry Commission, the Gold and Diamond Miners Association, the Ministries of Public Works and Local Government and Regional Development.
Government’s investments to improve access in the hinterland have resulted in the construction of roads and bridges in several areas. Over recent years, a road was built from Kamana to Waipa, Region Eight and was recently extended to Kaibarupai, the last community located along the Ireng River. Prior to construction of the road, river transport was the only means of travelling to the community and it was often difficult and dangerous during the dry season. Additionally, a road was built from Kopinang to Chenapau, works that entailed construction of bridges across the rivers and creeks.

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Mini mall to house Mandela Avenue vendors

Georgetown, GINA, September 12, 2007.

Proposed designs are currently being prepared for development of a plot of land to cater for the removal of all persons vending along Mandela Avenue, as Government continues to focus on improving safety for travellers along the thoroughfare.
It will also allow persons selling along the roadside to continue their activities in a more comfortable environment.
            Minister of Transport and Hydraulics Robeson Benn said the land adjacent to the National Gymnasium has been identified as the area to be developed and will feature a mini-mart, playground and car park. Based on the proposed design, the land will be cleared and upgraded.
            Initial discussions have been held with the vendors and officials of the Public Works Ministry while another meeting will be held shortly to discuss development of the new area and the removal process.
Removal notices were served by the Ministry earlier this year, to clear the roadways of all impediments. There have since been several meetings with Minister Benn and these persons to discuss an alternative location since the vendors claim their livelihoods will be affected. The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development has also been involved in the process.
During a meeting last June, Minister Benn reminded residents that occupancy on the road reserve is illegal and dangerous to public safety and there was no alternative but removal.
The Ministry’s campaign to remove impediments from the roadways and reserve started last year and has intensified over the past months. It targets removal of obstructions such as scrap iron, derelict vehicles and other items that are considered safety hazards. Additionally, residents whose have structures extending on the roadways have been advised to remove within their property lines.
Meanwhile, proposed designs have already been completed for establishment of a mini-mart at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Timehri, to cater for those persons vending in the vicinity of the CJIA. A plot of land has already been identified for the project.
On September 05, Minister Benn and Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Kellawan Lall visited the Linden/Soesdyke Junction and CJIA to assess the vending situation.

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Water Surveillance Plan launched in Region Six
- other regions to benefit shortly

Georgetown, GINA, September 12, 2007

Clean water is essential to good health and to safeguard the population against diseases, the Ministries of Health and Housing and Water are collaborating to ensure that safety is maintained and contamination reduced as government works at fulfilling the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half, the population without access to safe water by 2015.
            “Providing safe water is a major investment and what is currently being paid will not be enough to ensure that what is leaving the system is what is coming out of it. Persons must work with us to ensure that it is maintained so that safe water is collected by consumers,” Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy said at the launching of the Water Surveillance Plan for Region Six yesterday at the Little Rock Hotel, New Amsterdam.



He said that the implementation of the plan will provide an opportunity not only for safe water, but for good hygiene and improved health.
“I cannot promise anyone that we will have quality water tomorrow, but what is incumbent upon us is that we become vigilant of what the provision of safe water means to the people of this country,” Minister Ramsammy said.
Region Six was identified by the Ministry of Health for the implementation of the Regional Water Surveillance System (RWSS) to demonstrate the methodology for efficient control, detection and prevention of water related illnesses.
Prior to the launching of the RWSS, a three-day training which began on Monday saw participants conducting various tests to ensure quality control.
The two ministries recently inked a Memorandum of Understanding which seeks to provide safe water to all households through continuous testing and monitoring of the water quality being provided.
 Water sold by more than 20 companies was tested and some revealed the presence of microbes.  The companies have since assured that all measures will be taken to improve on the quality of water being sold.

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Guyana to participate in CARICOM Heads of State Health Summit
-
focus on combating non-communicable diseases

Government, GINA September 12, 2007

 Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will on September 15 meet in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago to start a campaign to galvanise the region to deal with several health issues.
             The Guyanese delegation will be headed by President Bharrat Jagdeo and includes Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy.
            It is the first such summit to be held and will bring together Heads of CARICOM to discuss the problem of chronic non- communicable diseases. It is being supported by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the American Bureau of the World Health Organisation (WHO).  
            Minister Ramsammy said Guyana’s participation is recognition that life-style diseases have emerged as the principal public health challenge in recent decades since great inroads were made in tackling infectious diseases that plagued the region.
            In the drive to contain chronic diseases, Minister Ramsammy noted that awareness is important since it is a result of bad food choices and low levels of physical activities. They come at a high cost to individuals and to the region’s States in terms of human suffering, expensive treatment and loss of production.
            The one-day summit will bring together decision and policy makers and other regional and international health organisations to declare actions appropriate to curtailing life-style related diseases.

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President intervenes to assist piracy victims 
Special fund to be created, enhance communications system mooted 

Georgetown, GINA, September 12, 2007

Fishermen’s pleas to government for assistance to fight against piracy has been heard and the Head of State after meeting with a number of fishermen today at State House has indicated that a special fund to assist those affected and tougher laws will be enacted to curb piracy.
            Meeting the Head of State President Bharrat Jagdeo, Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud and Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee today at State House were fishermen from the Rosignol, Parika and Number 66 Fishport complexes. 
            “We met with the fishermen especially those affected by piracy. We agreed on a number of measures that would hopefully improve the situation that deal with better communication through radio linkages, the Coastguard playing a more involved role and the response time of the Coastguard to build greater capacity and the Coastguard to respond,” the President commented following the meeting.



            He explained that the creation of a special fund was also discussed to offer assistance to those affected by the criminal activities perpetrated on fishermen.
            “We spoke about assisting through the creation of a small fund to which there would be contributions from the fishermen themselves but also a small contribution from the government to assist those who have lost their livelihoods,” President Jagdeo expanded.
The Head of State said talks were also held on toughening up the laws to make piracy a serious offence.
“We spoke about toughening up the law a non-bailable offence because we have had some cases where people were released on bail and they go straight back into hijacking. In some countries they take it seriously because people can lose their lives at sea. So we are toughening up on that. We are going to pay much attention not just to people who do the hijacking but people who buy stolen property.  They would also face severe penalties,” the President said.



            Today’s meeting is a follow-up on a promise made by the Agriculture Minister to have the fishermen meet the Head of State to put forward their concerns and suggestions to aid in the containment of piracy.
            The Minister on August 5 held a meeting at the Upper Corentyne Fishermen Co-op Society complex, Number 66 Village, to discuss several propositions that could be implemented by fishermen and which would make it difficult for piracy to take place. Over the past months, there have been a series of meetings between Minister Persaud and fishermen to examine a number of strategies to aid in the alleviation of piracy.
            This is part of Government’s efforts to reduce incidents of piracy which are affecting fishermen, resulting in severe losses. This criminal activity has been in existence for decades and has affected the livelihoods of many persons who depend on marine fishing.

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New Russian Ambassador accredited
- focus on political, economic and cultural sphere to characterize his tenure

Georgetown, GINA, September 12, 2007

His Excellency Pavel Sergiev, new Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Guyana, today presented his Letters of Credence to Head of State President Bharrat Jagdeo at State House.
            The new Ambassador said Guyana is an important country and during his tenure he will build upon the work already accomplished by his predecessor to strengthening political, economic and cultural ties between Guyana and the Russian Federation.



            “Most important is the political dialogue. We have a good mutual understanding, there are no political problems between our two countries and there is a lot of coincidence in the international sphere,” the Ambassador commented.
He said focus will also be placed in the development of economic and trade relations. This he said will be facilitated by exchange visits of persons in the private sector to get acquainted with what each country has to offer in the realm of business and economics.



            Additionally, in the area of cultural relations, he said more students would be able to study in Russia and have more cultural exchanges.
            The Ambassador said the President’s two State visits to his country served as an impetus to the relations between the two nations.
            He said soon a Government official is expected to be in Guyana for political consultations between the two countries.



The Russian Ambassador said in the area of Security his country will be able to lend a helping hand with cooperation at the level of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
He added that an agreement to effect this is yet to be inked but the precise date for that event is unknown.
The President had on July 17 bid farewell to the outgoing Russian Ambassador to Guyana, Vladimir S. Starikov at his Office in New Garden Street.
            President Jagdeo returned from a week-long trip to the Russian Federation on February 5. He was accompanied by Head of the Privatisation Unit, Winston Brassington. During the visit he met his counterpart from the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, Russian tycoon and owner of the Russian Aluminum Company (RUSAL) Oleg Deripaska, President of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation, E. M. Primakov and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in charge of the Western Hemisphere, Sergei Kislyak.



During that visit a Letter of Intent (LOI) was signed for the development of a hydropower plant, an alumina refinery and an aluminium smelter. All three projects if proven feasible should start before the end of 2011.
While in the country, the Head of State visited his alma mater, the Russian Peoples’ Friendship University (RPFU) where he met V.M. Filippov, Rector of the University, professors, lecturers and Russian students with whom he studied together.
Born in 1951 Ambassador Sergiev graduated from Moscow State Institute University of International Relations in 1973 and has a doctorate degree in History. The Ambassador is also multi –lingual, speaking Chinese, English and Spanish.
            Since 2007 Ambassador Sergiev has been the Head of Division in the Latin American Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.  He has a diplomatic rank of Envoy Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

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Early detection and treatment for cervical cancer
-VIA clinic being established at GPHC   

Government, GINA September 12, 2007

Women across Guyana will benefit from yet another intervention by Government at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.
            The Visual Inspection using Acetic Acid (VIA) test which detects cervical cancer by simple colour reactions, will be one of the permanent services offered at the GPHC.
            Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy said the test has been in use in Guyana for the past three years. It was however, not being used significantly.
            “The Ministry is adopting VIA as a national screening protocol for cervical cancer. It is recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a low cost screening technology for cervical cancer screening,” Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy said.  
            A clinic is to be established at the GPHC followed by similar clinics at the New Amsterdam Hospital and other regional hospitals. It will eventually be introduced at health centres in hinterland areas. Minister Ramsammy disclosed that persons are continuously being trained to conduct the test.
            “It is part of the overall programme to control cervical cancer and this by it self has a number of benefits,” Minister Ramsammy added.
            The Ministry will be aggressively tackling the fight to control the disease as cervical cancer contributes to 13 per cent to the total 44 per cent of cases of cancer in Guyana. It is the third leading kind of cancer recorded.              
             Awareness on the causes and effects will be an important part of the fight. A gynaecologist attached to the GPHC has been identified to head the clinic.
            “Many people are not aware of this type of test which is virtually painless and can result in many benefits. If a woman is screened and is detected to have the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), then that person can be on the alert of developing cervical cancer. It can also be treated before it reaches the late stages,” the Health Minister explained.  
            Government is also determined to introduce the HPV vaccine by next year for young girls who will reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer by safeguarding against the HPV.
            VIA is a more effective technology in identifying women with cervical cancer or who are at risk of developing the disease. Previously, the Pap smear test was used.
            Doctors will be able to use cold treatment for cancerous cells detected before it spreads and becomes uncontrollable.
            “After a VIA is conducted, we can do VIAM which is using magnifying instruments to seek and zap cancer cells with a substance that is extremely cold and this will kill the cells,” Minister Ramsammy said.
            Women have already begun to benefit from the initiative. Forty-six cases of early cervical cancer were detected during the women’s health fair recently held at the Stabroek Market Square.  

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“I have confidence in you, study hard and make Guyana proud”
- President tells 149 students preparing to study in Cuba under Scholarship programme 

Georgetown, GINA, September 12, 2007

On September 24, 149 students from across the country will embark on a journey towards academic fortification as part of a special Scholarship programme between the Governments of Guyana and Cuba lobbied for by the Head of State in 2003 when he visited Cuba.    
            During an orientation seminar held on the lawns of State House today the Head of State spoke of his expectations of the young ambassadors preparing for Cuba and gave his commitment to support them in their endeavours by giving them his full vote of confidence.



“I am confident in you, in your abilities to deal with everything that you would encounter and to make our country proud and in doing so that you would all give your best effort, study hard and ensure that what you are going to Cuba for, your purpose would be fulfilled..” he told the large gathering of parents and students.
He impressed upon them that his confidence in them surpasses the negative comments made by others.
The Head of State congratulated the students and thanked their parents for the good work done in preparing their children for the important journey they are to embark on as they depart for Cuba to further their studies in a gamut of areas.



            The President said, “As with any journey there are going to be good times and there will be obstacles along the pathway and we hope that the training you received at home and within our society will give you the skills necessary to navigate the pathway on the journey to a successful conclusion. It is not the absence of problems that makes a good character, it is how you deal with the problems that you face.”
            He said the opportunity given to them would be coveted by many others who have not been offered the opportunity to fulfill their academic dreams under a scholarship arrangement.
            The President continued in this vein, “You have now within your hands the opportunity to prepare yourselves to contribute to that better life for your country and I urge you not to let this opportunity slip by. There are many others who wanted to be where you are today, who have applied for scholarships but unfortunately we could not choose all of them, so consider yourselves fortunate.”
            He maintained that this step is a critical part of their lives and urged that they remember at all time the primary purpose of their sojourn to Cuba. The President urged them to take advantage of the opportunity of meeting diverse people to build on their multi-cultural skills as this is truly what makes an individual well-rounded.



            “I want you to use the opportunity there to learn about these things, explore what the other cultures have to offer. When you study Spanish don’t just see it as a means to your education because you need to learn Spanish to actively study; but see it as the opening up of your minds to a world…. a world of art, music and literature and immerse yourselves in that, because it helps to broaden your experience so that when you come back … you would have had a broader experience because ultimately it’s not just the professions that make us good, well-rounded people, it’s the summation of our experience and our knowledge in many other areas.”
            President Jagdeo thanked the government of Cuba for their generosity allowing so many Guyanese students to study in their country as guests of the State. He said it was during his last visit to Cuba that President Fidel Castro himself worked out the framework for the scholarship progarmme.
            He said the faculty created specially for Guyanese students studying in Cuba was an idea mooted by the Cuban Head of State.
            The Head of State spoke of the advancement made in the number of students being given the opportunity to study under scholarships. He said there has been a drastic improvement in the numbers as in the past a minuscule number of students left Guyana’s shores to study in Cuba but now hundreds are studying in the Spanish-speaking Island.
            “We should be eternally grateful to Cuba…a few years ago, maybe less than 10 years ago we used to get 14-15 scholarships a year from Cuba, so our task was to open up more opportunities for our children. We visited India and now we have seen a huge increase in our scholarships to India.”
            The programme is implemented jointly by Office of the President and the Public Service Ministry.
            Students from all across the country are given the opportunity to study in Cuba through the special scholarship programme under which they receive from the Government of Guyana a $50 Canadian stipend monthly.
            He said students have made representation for an increase in the stipend and this is something Government will be considering in the days ahead.
            Public Service Minister Dr. Jennifer Westford in addressing the students implored them also to remain cognisant of the purpose of their trip to Cuba and to conduct themselves in a manner that Guyana can be proud to deem them young ambassadors of the nation.
             She said a meeting will be staged with the students before they depart to have a candid talk on what is expected to them during their stay in Cuba.
            Minister Westford said Guyana needs the skills for the development of the country and that at the end of their studies she expects professionals to return to serve their country.
            The Minister is a proud beneficiary of the Scholarship programme.
            Cuban Ambassador to Guyana F. A Marchante told the students, “it is a good opportunity give to you to develop your ideas and dreams you have for the future. Guyana will have a very good future if you finish you different careers.”
            The scholarship progarmme which started in 2003 will end in 2010 with a total of 1268 students being able to study in Cuba.  
            Parents were allowed to ask questions pertaining to their children’s accommodation and other arrangements in Cuba.
            Parents and students were given the opportunity to mingle with the Head of State following the conclusion of the formal orientation session.

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