What is the gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy on med­i­cal as­sis­tance for fam­i­lies in dire need?

Stabroek News Sunday - - REGIONAL NEWS -

Dear Ed­i­tor, I have ob­served the pub­lic dis­clo­sure on fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance for med­i­cal pur­poses that was ren­dered to the dis­tin­guished gentle­man and for­mer mag­is­trate, Fazil Azeez, who suf­fered at the hands of a crim­i­nal. Let me take this op­por­tu­nity to pub­licly de­clare that I am in full sup­port of my brother and friend, Fazil Azeez’s full re­cov­ery and look for­ward to his con­tin­ued con­tri­bu­tion to Guyana.

As a re­sult of pub­lic knowl­edge of gov­ern­ment’s as­sis­tance to de­serv­ing per­sons, I write to en­quire about the guid­ing poli­cies that de­ter­mine the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of such as­sis­tance. In my in­di­vid­ual ca­pac­ity, as a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment and in en­gage­ments with mem­bers of the pub­lic at the of­fice of the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion, there have been nu­mer­ous re­quests for as­sis­tance for med­i­cal treat­ment both lo­cally and over­seas.

Based on my knowl­edge, as a for­mer mem­ber of Cab­i­net, I did re­fer sev­eral fam­i­lies to the Min­istry of Pub­lic Health for as­sis­tance, only for them to be told by min­istry of­fi­cials that the med­i­cal as­sis­tance fa­cil­ity was not ac­ces­si­ble in their cir­cum­stance.

I, there­fore, in­vite the Pub­lic Health Min­is­ter or the Cab­i­net, through the Min­is­ter of State, to make pub­lic the gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy on med­i­cal as­sis­tance to fam­i­lies who are in dire need, par­tic­u­larly those need­ing to travel abroad to ac­cess health care.

I ex­pect that this ap­proach would lend it­self to equal op­por­tu­nity and ac­cess, in a non-dis­crim­i­na­tory man­ner, where po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion, re­li­gion, race and class are not cri­te­ria for favourable con­sid­er­a­tion. I am sure that the line for such as­sis­tance is be­ing formed and has, prob­a­bly, en­cir­cled the perime­ter of the Min­istry of Pub­lic Health. Clar­ity on gov­ern­ment’s med­i­cal as­sis­tance pol­icy would an­swer many ques­tions that are be­ing asked.

Firstly, the Guyanese peo­ple need to be aware of the ceil­ing as it re­lates to ben­e­fits for ac­cess to med­i­cal care lo­cally: is it $1mil­lion or $6 mil­lion? If med­i­cal as­sis­tance is avail­able lo­cally, at pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions, un­der what cir­cum­stances do per­sons qual­ify for ben­e­fits? If med­i­cal as­sis­tance is avail­able lo­cally at pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions, un­der what cir­cum­stances do per­sons qual­ify for ben­e­fits?

Sec­ondly, when re­fer­rals are made for pa­tients to seek fur­ther med­i­cal care abroad, un­der what cir­cum­stances do they qual­ify for as­sis­tance and what is the ceil­ing? Is it $1 mil­lion or $6 mil­lion? Is there a net­work of med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als and in­sti­tu­tions that the gov­ern­ment is part­ner­ing with?

Thirdly, to what ex­tent, does your fi­nan­cial stand­ing, or lack thereof, qual­ify you or pro­hibit you from be­ing able to ac­cess med­i­cal as­sis­tance?

Fi­nally, who is the of­fi­cer au­tho­rised to ap­prove med­i­cal as­sis­tance. Who makes the fi­nal de­ter­mi­na­tion about ac­cess and the amount of as­sis­tance ac­cessed? Is it the sub­ject Min­is­ter? Is it the Cab­i­net? Or is it a tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer? Your faith­fully, Bishop Juan Edghill, MP PPP/C

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