A heartbreaking photograph of a mother nursing her newborn under a bed at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) surfaced on the internet Thursday. It must be utterly distressing for a mother filled with joy at giving new life but then have to endure poor conditions at the very medical facility she has put the safety of herself and that of her new bundle of job in. Such poor conditions are no doubt placing mothers and babies at obvious medical risks.On Christmas Day 2015, no other than Head of State President David Granger and First Lady Sandra Granger both visited the maternity ward at the Georgetown Public Hospital where the president vowed in the presence of Public Health Minister Dr George Norton to have improved conditions at the medical facility.As a matter of fact the President on that occasion said it is part of his job as President to be at the hospital on Christmas morning, not only to bring cheer but also to have a first-hand look at the challenges patients experience. His exact words were: “I will be working with the Minister of Health to improve the circumstances under which you work and under which mothers have to give birth. This is where life starts and if you don’t ensure you have a safe environment, that the mothers are in a comfortable environment and the staff have the resources they need to do their work, we are likely to have problems.”The obvious question now is: “What happened, Mr President and Dr Norton?” Why are our new mothers being forced to share beds, even sleep on chairs and even more upsetting forced to sleep under a bed in the maternity ward of one of Guyana’s primary public health institutions?GPHC is where 60 per cent of babies are born in Guyana and surely someone must be held accountable for humiliating and reducing our mothers to this extent. One would have expected that within a reasonable timeframe, the reported challenges the new administration claimed it inherited from the previous administration at the GPHC maternity ward would have been addressed.As a matter of fact, four months in, with million being awarded to the Public Health Ministry in the 2016 National Budget but yet still nothing is done. Earlier this year, the Public Health Minister himself promised 50 new beds for the facility, declaring that “sharing beds would be a thing of the past” but yet today we degrade our new mothers as the issue persists.There is no doubt the GPHC maternity ward needs improvements and in moving forward better management is certainly needed at the facility to develop services offered.More resources would solve to a great extent some of the problems in maternity services at GPHC. There needs to be recognition of the needs of maternity services and those needs must be given higher priority when resource allocation decisions are taken.Learning from adverse incidents is one of the key components in moving forward and as such to improve the management and general conditions at the GPHC maternity ward feedback is needed from patients.Mothers must be able to report unsafe situations and their treatment at the facility so that in future solid action and change for the better is instilled.At present there is a noticeable inadequacy in management and poor staff–management relationships at GPHC and these are what leads to poor public health services as what is currently happening at the maternity ward.Change is need at the GPHC maternity ward and this change must be rendered sooner rather than later. What has occurred to our new mothers at that medical facility is downright inhumane and more so a great embarrassment to the management of GPHC.It is time to stop the “photo-op” with new born babies and implement strategies that would improve the conditions at maternity facilities.
APTN National NewsOTTAWA-The Federal Court has ordered the Privy Council Office to either release internal emails between Aboriginal bureaucrats or better explain why the documents should be shrouded beneath the blanket of cabinet secrecy.Winnipeg-based Tribal Wi-Chi-Way-Win Capital Corporation (TWCC) went to Federal Court last January seeking a judicial review of an Aboriginal Affairs decision to create a $15.5 million loan guarantee program for selected banks and credit unions to encourage lending to on-reserve businesses.TWCC, an Aboriginal bank created by the federal government in 1993 to provide financing to on-reserve businesses, has claimed the department failed to consult Aboriginal lenders before creating the program.The court action has since led to a legal tussle between TWCC and the PCO over 30 internal emails written by Aboriginal Affairs bureaucrats.PCO has refused to hand over the documents arguing they are covered by cabinet confidence.On Aug. 22, the Federal Court-appointed official managing the case ruled that the PCO had failed to make the case for keeping the emails secret, said TWCC’s lawyer Ken Muys.The official, Roger Lafreniere, ordered the PCO to either submit the requested emails or present a better argument for keeping them secret by Oct. 1, said Muys.“(Lafrenier) said that the Privy Council and cabinet are entitled to withhold disclosure of secret documents, but the court wasn’t convinced that (the emails) were properly described to be secret,” said Muys. “He gave them a choice and he did comment (that) he would be extraordinarily surprised if the emails are somehow secret documents.”TWCC is trying to uncover the decision process that led to the creation of the program.The Aboriginal Affairs department picked Assiniboine Credit Union, Desjardins Group, Business Development Bank of Canada, Affinity Credit Union, First Nations Bank, Servus Credit Union and VanCity Savings Credit Union to take part in the loan-loss reserve program.Assiniboine Credit Union has since pulled out of the program saying it wasn’t working.Alan Park, chief executive officer of TWCC, has said that the department was putting Aboriginal lenders in jeopardy by freezing them out of the program and giving mainstream lenders a “golden-brick road” into the on-reserve lending sector.It remains unclear why the department didn’t include Aboriginal financing firms, called AFIs, in the program when the firms were created and designed to provide loans to on-reserve businesses which typically have to work harder to borrow money from banks.Created 20 years ago with $200 million in seed capital, there are now 57 AFIs across the country and they have written about 36,000 loans worth over $1.4 billion.TWCC was established in 1993 and has since offered more than $34 million in loans to 45 First Nations communities in Manitoba.While it began with only three employees, it has 150 todayThe Conservative Aboriginal affairs caucus sent a letter last year asking former Indian affairs minister Chuck Strahl to rethink the program.