(Guyana Guardian) – While the Georgetown Public Hospital is seemingly the most criticized symbol of Guyana’s healthcare system, Guyanese may be surprise to know that that medical institution is one of the most equipped state-run healthcare facilities within the Caribbean Community.

In a side by side comparison of several state funded hospitals in the Caribbean, Allan Barrette, an international Pharmaceutical Investigator who also documents the state of healthcare facilities across various regions; – explained (in an invited comment) that the Georgetown Public Hospital, which is a state funded medical institution in Guyana, was found to be more equipped and professionally staffed than the main government funded hospitals in Grenada, Antigua, St. Lucia, Suriname, and several other territories with a higher GDP.

Only the main government-run hospitals in Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas, and Barbados were found to be clearly ahead of the healthcare facilities that are available at the Georgetown Public Hospital in Guyana.

Private healthcare cost in Guyana were also found to be less costly than in any of the other Caribbean Community countries, with the Dr. Balwant Singh Hospital holding a slim lead when it comes to advance medical technology services locally.

While Barrette did not consider his information as gospel, he told the Guyana Guardian that his data was almost fool-proof and may reflect almost the same thing if a regional health care research is actually funded and conducted fairly by the Caribbean Community.

He however found that while the Georgetown Hospital is reasonably equipped, his independent data seems to suggest that around 30% of available medical technology there is not in use or is not functional for one reason or the other; while the emergency processing procedures, patient visit experience, patient complaint handling, and overall patient care accountability processes are relatively poor when compared to the other territories.

Nonetheless, he explained that just over a hundred Caricom nationals are believed to have traveled to Guyana during 2015 alone in pursuit of free health care treatment at the Georgetown Public Hospital since they would usually have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for the same healthcare services in their home countries.
The most popular group of healthcare tourists are believe to be Grenadians, Barbadians, overseas based Guyanese and Brazilians who are often reliant on surgical procedures and dental procedures which are freely done at the Georgetown Hospital in Guyana.

“For example, while an ambulance ride to the hospital or a blood test in Guyana is free, a government ambulance pick-up or a blood test at the public hospital in Grenada is not. So you can imagine how challenging and costly it can be for these people if they are to undergo a surgical procedure even at the Government run hospital there”, he said.

But while Guyana extends free healthcare to all Caricom nationals, whether they are in the country legally or illegally, most of the other member states does not offer free health care to Guyanese regardless of their statuses.

Albeit all of this, Barrette’s findings may come as a surprise or as a big joke to many Guyanese, who have often criticized the Georgetown Public Hospital and its staff for various reasons, including perceived poor services, and regular maternal deaths among other things.

But in Barrette’s view, Guyanese need to go abroad and engage the public health systems of other countries. He surmised that thereafter, they will surely learn to appreciate the free healthcare system that is available to them locally.