**Updated 10/29/16: If you live in Guyana and have (or think you have) Endometriosis, there IS an online support group created by a woman living in Georgetown: https://www.facebook.com/groups/330769713952617/**
Guyana is a small English-speaking country located on the northeastern coast of South America, next to Venezuela and Brazil. For a size-comparison, it’s slightly smaller than the state of Idaho. It’s estimated that 736,000 people live in Guyana, most of whom reside in or near the capital, Georgetown, . The majority of the country is covered in dense tropical forests. The rest is grasslands, marshes, and cultivated urban areas. Guyana has an 11% unemployment rate, and 35% of the population lives below the poverty line. Unfortunately, nearly 155,000 residents live without electricity.
According to the C.I.A., nearly 2% of the Guyanese population is HIV positive, the Zika virus is actively transmitted throughout the country, and the citizens face a high risk of diarrhea, hepatitis A and typhoid fever due to poor water conditions. In the past, there has also been a high mortality rate for mothers giving birth and/or their babies. Guyana’s healthcare system is a blend of private and public (free) clinics and hospitals, located throughout the various regions of the country.
There are approximately 383,500 women in Guyana. If one in 10 women suffer from Endometriosis, that means 38,000 Guyanese women may suffer from Endometriosis. And I have been contacted by many asking questions about symptoms, diagnostic tests, and best ways to help with the pain. It’s what spawned today’s blog. And if you’re reading this and don’t know what Endometriosis is, but you suffer from painful periods (among other symptoms), please click here to read about the symptoms, And, please, talk to your doctor. If you don’t have a doctor, please try to make your way to a clinic or regional hospital. And if you’d like, sign up for this Endometriosis Disease map and find women near you who also suffer from Endometriosis!
Due to the very rural areas of Guyana, many people are unable to seek appropriate medical care. Some walk for miles though, others travel by canoe or small plane, and yet others simply do not have the means to travel to the more-populated urban areas for medical care. The physician-to-patient ratio is staggering : less than one doctor for every 1,000 patients, and statistics show that there are two hospital beds to every 1,000 patients. A study published in 2015 stated that out of nine hospitals across Guyana, there were less than 1 (0.7) OB/Gyns, 3.5 non-OB surgeons, and 1 anesthesiologist per hospital. That same study found over half of those same hospitals reported routine water and electricity shortages. There are also numerous reports of severe understaffing for specialists, nurses, and midwives throughout the country.
Although the economic and medical state of Guyana may sound grim, there are people and agencies trying to make a difference. The Guyana Chronicle has published several health-related articles, including ones that focus on painful sex, Endometriosis, dioxin awareness, and cancer. It’s so wonderful to see the media truly pushing to increase awareness and improve medical care. The Government of Guyana is continuing to take steps to improve the quality and availability of healthcare throughout the region, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on upgrades throughout the country, as well as recruiting physicians from abroad (and encouraging local physicians to stay and practice in Guyana). The country also receives extensive aid internationally. Several doctors and organizations have devoted their time and energy into helping train medical staff in Guyana. Guyana Medical Relief, a non-profit organization based out of Los Angeles, California, secures medications and diagnostic equipment for the hospitals of Guyana. Since 1984, GMR has provided $60,000,000 worth of medical supplies and equipment to Guyanese hospitals and healthcare centers. They have also provided shoes to thousands of Guyanese children in need. GMR is just one of many organizations helping Guyana’s medical crisis.
I had the pleasure of speaking with a young Guyanese woman whom we shall call “C.S.” Five years ago, she began to have horrible cramps, heavy bleeding, and a swollen abdomen. Painkillers would help ease her pain for a while, but her body eventually rejected them. Then in 2015, the first day of her period became unbearable, nearly causing her to fall. She rushed to the Woodlands Hospital, explained her symptoms to the doctor, was given Morphine for the pain (which helped a little), and was whisked away to an ultrasound. She had cysts on her ovaries and surgery was recommended. Woodlands Hospital was too expensive, so C.S. was transported to Georgetown Public Hospital’s gynecologist clinic. There they prescribed her a birth control pill, Diane-35, for June through August of 2015. On November 4, 2015, she had the much-needed surgery, which took approximately 45 minutes. The cyst on her left ovary was 13.5cm and the one on her right ovary was 12.5cm; her surgeons were able to save both of her ovaries. Biopsies confirmed Endometriosis. One month after her surgery, she had her cycle, and has been monitoring her symptoms ever since. She continues to feel good today, her periods only have slight cramping, and her tummy is once again flat. C.S. has a 5-year-old daughter (whom she loves very much), and she may be her only child – the doctor explained how difficult C.S.’s chances of becoming pregnant may be. She urges any women who have any symptoms of Endometriosis to see a gynecologist early, go with friends or family – it could save a life. She doesn’t know of anyone else who has been diagnosed with Endometriosis in Guyana.
In July 2014, Miss Guyana Universe 2013 (and Miss India Guyana 2013), Katherina Roshana, addressed suicide, depression, and mental health issues. She also stated that Endometriosis may lead to depression, urging people to become aware of suicidal signs.
Many women around the world claim a decrease in their Endometriosis symptoms, simply by altering their diet to include less inflammatory foods. If you’d like more information on dietary changes, I have posted several articles that I’ve written (click here). Guyanese diet mainly seems to consist of rice, beans, fruits, vegetables, and curries. A traditional meat dish, Pepperpot, is a stew made with either beef, pork, or mutton, and is considered the National Dish. Chinese, Indian, and some American (Kentucky Fried Chicken) restaurants are also becoming popular in the more urban areas. Coffee, tea, juice, and alcohol are well-loved in Guyana; however, tourists are discouraged from drinking the tap water.
I assume the steps to diagnosing Endometriosis, hormonal treatments, and surgeries are comparable to healthcare around the world. I have emailed various hospitals and physicians in Guyana to see if they could shed some insight as to how they handle Endometriosis. If any respond, I will update this blog and let you know.
I have gathered a list of hospitals throughout the country. Should you need to speak with a doctor about Endometriosis, or any other pelvic (or other) pain you’re enduring, I hope one of these can help you:
Bartica Regional Hospital in Cuyuni-Mazaruni is nearly a 12-hour drive from Georgetown. It lies between the Essequibo and the Mazaruni Rivers. In 2016, the hospital received major renovations, including to the neonatal intensive care unit and their operating theater. BRH went from having four doctors, to having 16, and they’ve seen a dramatic increase of surgeries in their region of Guyana.
Davis Memorial Hospital & Clinic in Georgetown is owned by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, is staffed primarily by missionary doctors, and boasts of 40 hospital beds. They are equipped to perform laparoscopic surgeries, as well as other procedures.
Diamond Hospital is the East Bank Demerara Regional Hospital and is 25 minutes south of Georgetown. It treats nearly 100,000 patients each year and has been around since 2007. Over the years, it has seen medication shortages (including allegations of an internal medication theft ring), personnel shortages, and broken equipment; so much so that the Public Health Minister declared the hospital “a disaster.” A lot of the medical staff were imported from Cuba, which created a language barrier between doctors and patients. The government has promised to get Diamond Hospital running up to par.
Fort Wellington Community Hospital in Fort Wellington and is an hour-and-a-half-drive to Georgetown. It’s a small hospital with only 22 beds, although in October 2016 they received an ultrasound machine and have scheduled pending laboratory upgrades. They are also trying to obtain a psychiatrist and are striving to improve the healthcare for those residents in their region.
Georgetown Public Hospital in in Georgetown, has 600 beds, and is a free, government-run hospital. No payments are collected from the patients. It’s the main hub where most patients in need of extensive medical care are transferred to throughout the region. In 2016, they received much-needed critical care equipment from the Fyrish Support Group. Many employees have stated they love(d) their jobs at GPHC; however, did complain of a lack of adequate tools and information. One report stated there were only two nursing assistants available for 45 patients in the Georgetown Public Hospital’s Female Surgical Ward.
Leonora Cottage Hospital in Uitvlugt is a small hospital 48 minutes west of Georgetown. In 2009, there were no midwives available and a young mother-to-be was turned away in the middle of contractions – she ended up having to give birth to a healthy baby at a private hospital in Georgetown. There were over 17 maternal deaths in 2015 at L.C.H. In 2013, it made the local news due to an ongoing drug shortage, non-functoning toilets for patients or staff, and the discovery of a stillborn fetus in the nurse’s fridge. However, in 2016, the Public Health Minister pledged that the hospital was to receive a complete renovation of their maternity unit – to make it a safe and healthy place for women to give birth.
Lethem Hospital in Lethem, and is roughly a 10-hour drive to Georgetown. In mid-2016, the government decided that Lethem Hospital was to become the region’s hospital, but in order to achieve this status there needed to be more specialists and the staff must learn to work together, learn team protocols, better record keeping, etc. If patients need surgery, they are tranported to Georgetown or Brazil. And many residents fear inadequate medical services as well as the language barrier of Brazil. And, like much of the hospitals around the country, there are complaints of medication shortages at Letham.
Linden Hospital Complex in about an hour-and-a-half south of Georgetown. In July 2016, it hosted a National Women’s Conference. Some even claim it is the best hospital in Guyana; although, it may be facing a government audit. L.H.C. also opened the Laparoscopic Surgery Center in 2014, working in collaboration with specialists from China.
Mahaicony Hospital in Mahaicony is about an hour from Georgetown. In February, 2016, there were reports that the hospital did not have a functioning paediatric ward, despite a paediatrician working there. Residents claimed they needed to travel to Georgetown for paediatric care and are requesting the governtment’s help. The facility received a $2,000,000 ultrasound machine in August of 2016 thanks to the efforts of Guyana Medical Relief. The donation will save patients of the area the drive to Georgetown for ultrasound imaging studies.
Mahdia District Hospital is a six to nine hour drive on dirt roads from the capital. The hospital has limited power every day linked to a small grid (6pm-6am), as well as the use of a generator (10am-2pm) and solar power (only powers the radio and vacinne fridge). You could imagine the difficulties a lack of power presents to the hospital and patients.
Mibicuri Hospital in the Black Bush Polder area has less than two dozen nurses and doctors to serve approximately 4,000 area residents. Efforts are ongoing to increase the staff size at several region hospitals. Albeit small, M.H. is commended for the friendly attitudes of staff, their professionalism, and the cleanliness of the facilities. Praises aside, it also faces periods of darkness if there are power failures and the emergency generator does not work (apparently, this is more often than not).
New Amsterdam Regional Hospital in New Amsterdam and sees 20,000 patients per day. It has increased the services it provides, but has not had a significant increase in staff members to provide those services. The lack of adequate staff may cause treatment delays and/or the need for medical transport.
Port Mourant Hospital and Ophthalmology Center in Port Mourant (a 2-hour drive from Georgetown) boasts of 53 beds and offers primary healthcare, minor surgeries, and pediatric services.
Skeldon Hospital in Berbice is a three hour drive to Georgetown provides care to 200-250 people per day. In 2015, the hospital received major renovations, including the addition of an operating theater, recovery room, and intensive care unit. However, some staff members have complained of dirty well water, including reports of worms and moss passing through the faucet taps. Many nurses also complained of bats infesting the ceilings of their dormitory.
St. Joseph Mary Hospital in Georgetown is a non-profit hospital. It offers 67 beds, has 200+ staff, and is available to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Suddie Public Hospital is along the Essequibo coast and staffs 30 physicians. In 2015, an overhaul was announced to repair shoddy electrical work, roof leaks, and water damage, as well as restore function to the operating theater and upgrade equipment. The doctors have complained, publicly, about the conditions they continue to work with: clean drinking water is not provided, broken toilets, no air conditioning, the high risk of contracting mosquito-borne disease, and a lack of sleeping quarters and restrooms for staff, just to name a few. S.P.H. has also suffered drug, supply, and staff shortages. However, the Guyanese government promises to bring change to the lacking hospital.
West Demerara Regional Hospital in Vreed en Hoop is a 30-minute drive to Georgetown. It’s also slated to undergo major upgrades to end drug and equipment shortages.
Woodlands Hospital is a private hospital in Georgetown, which offers a broad range of medical services to the people of Guyana, including Zika testing, specialty surgeries, and full diagnostic imaging studies. Unfortunately, it has been the target of a robberies in July 2013 ($1,100,000 was taken) and again in October 2016 (undisclosed amount was taken).
If you have any additional information to any clinics or hospitals in Guyana, please feel free to let me know in the Comments section below. Also, if you have Endometriosis and want me to share your story, I’d be happy to! Just let me know! And I’d like to extend a very special thank you to “C.S.” – thank you for being brave enough to step out of the shadows to shed some light on your story. And for giving others the courage to do the same. ❤
Let’s connect the women of Guyana – you are NOT alone in this!
Best Country Reports – (Graphic; 2007) Population Density Map of Guyana
Caribbean Medical News – (Article; Oct. 2013) Diamond Hospital Guard “Unearths” Drugs Racket, Ejected from Compound
Citizens Report – (Article; May 2016) Major Shortage of Drugs at Lethem Regional Hospital
Cleveland.com – (Article; May 2013) University Hospitals Program Making Strides Training OB-GYNs in Guyana
Guyana Chronicle – (Article; Aug. 2010) Explaining Your Medicines
Guyana Chronicle – (Article; Jan. 2014) How the Flames of Burnished Trash Raise Hell for Humans
Guyana Chronicle – (Article; Aug. 2016) Mahaicony Hospital Ultrasound Services Upgraded
Guyana Chronicle – (Article; Feb. 2014) Mibicuri Hospital Staffers Lauded for Patient-Friendly Environment.
Guyana Chronicle – (Article; July 2014) Miss Guyana Universe 2013 Shares her Ideas on Suicide and its Prevention
Guyana Chronicle – (Article; Feb. 2015) Port Mourant – a Thriving Community Where Humble Residents Appreciate Gov’t Efforts
Guyana Chronicle – (Article; June 2015) Skeldon Hospital Staffers Raise Issues with Public Health Minister – as Construction Works Move Apace at Institution
Guyana Diaspora Project – Overseas-Based Charity Donates Heart Marchines – to Mahaicony, Bartica Hospitals
Guyana Government Information Agency – (Article; June 2016) All Regional Hospitals’ Theaters to be Functional
Guyana Government Information Agency – (Article; May 2016) GPHC Gets Medical Equipment from Fyrish Support Group
Guyana Government Information Agency – (Article; Aug. 2016) Lethem Hospital to Become Regional Institution – Public Health Ministry Working on Sourcing Specialists
Guyana News Network – (Article; Oct. 2015) Three Hospitals to be Upgraded
Guyana Times – (Letter to Editor; Sept. 2016) Deplorable Conditions for Doctors at Suddie Hospital
Guyana Times – (Article; Oct. 2016) Fort Wellington Hospital Commissions Ultrasound Unit
Guyana Times – Article; Oct. 2016) Govt Flouts Regulations to Finance Linden Hospital
Guyana Times – (Article; July 2016) Leonora Cottage Hospital Facing Drug Shortage
Guyana Times – (Article; Oct. 2016) Lone Gunman Storms Woodlands Hospital
Guyana Times – (Article; Oct. 2016) Woodlands Hospital Launches Zika Testing in Guyana
Guyanese Online – (Blog) We Care 2014 Medical & Educational Mission: July 24-July 31, 2016
Hott Caribbean Radio – (Article; May 2013) (Gyuana) Leonora Regional Hospital…Non-Functioning Toilets at the Hospitals is an Embarassment – Minister
iNewsGuyana – (Article; Feb. 2016) Mahaicony Cottage Hospital Paediatric Ward ‘Out of Service’
iNewsGuyana – (Article; June 2015) ‘Suddie Hospital theatre is a disgrace’; Major Overhaul Planned
Journal of Epidemiology and Global Health – (Study; March 2015) Anaesthesia, Surgery, Obstetrics, and Emergency Care in Guyana
Kaieteur News – (Article; Sept. 2015) Diamond Hospital is Turning Out to be a Disaster – Public Health Minister
Kaieteur News – (Article; Feb. 2013) Diamond Hospital Treated 80,012 Patients Last Year
Kaieteur News – (Article; April 2016) Endometriosis: A Common Disorder in Women
Kaieteur News – (Article; Sept. 2016) Fort Wellington Hospital Now Offers Ultrasound Services
Kaieteur News – (Article; Jan. 2009) Leonora Cottage Hospital Turns Pregnant Woman Away
Kaieteur News – (Article; Jan. 2016) Leonora Hospital’s Maternity Unit to Benefit from ‘Complete Makeover’
Kaieteur News – (Article; April 2012) Lethem Hospital Not Functioning to Residents’ Expectations
Kaieteur News – (Article; July 2014) Mibicuri Hospital Left in Darkness After Storm
Kaieteur News – (Article; May 2015) West Demerara Hospital to be Significantly Upgraded – Public Health Minister
Ministry of the Presidency – (Article; May 2016) Massive Transformation at Bartica Regional Hospital – Referrals to GPHC Reduced by 50%
Ministry of the Presidency – (Article; Nov. 2015) US$14M to Upgrade Bartica, Suddie, West Demerara Hospitals – Contract of Specialty Hospital to be Reviewed
NewsNow – (Article; April 2016) Skeldon, Mibicuri & Port Mourant Hospitals Working to Improve Service
Parliament of the Co-Operative Republic of Guyana – Budget 2012
Pitt Chronicle – (Article; Feb. 2016) In Guyana, Improving Health Care for Mothers and Babies
Powering Health – Guyana: Mahdia District Hospital
PressReader – (Article; Oct. 2016) Suddie is Far From the Best Hospital in Region Two
Simply Guyana – St. Joseph Mary Hospital
Stabroek News – (Article; Oct. 2007) Diamond gets $140M Hospital
Stabroek News – (Article; Oct. 2014) Linden Hospital Complex Laparoscopic Centre Commissioned
Stabroek News – (Article; Aug. 2015) Linden Hospital Complex Receives Defibrillator
Stabroek News – (Article; June 2015) Skeldon Hospital Undergoing Reconstruction
Stabroek News – (Article; March 2016) Staff Shortage Affecting New Amsterdam Hospital – Medical Superintendent
Stabroek News – (Article; July 2013) Taxi Driver Remanded Over Woodlands Hospital Robbery – Claims Car was Hijacked at Gunpoint
University Hospitals MacDonald Women’s Hospital – (Article) Building Women’s Health Bridges in Guyana
~ Again, I am a layman. I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. If curious, do your own research 🙂 Validate my writings. Or challenge them. And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always. Yours ~ Lisa