The president’s concern came amidst worrying
signs that since rains dumped a record amount of inches almost two weeks
ago, the country could be faced with a serious health crisis as a result
of stagnant water which remains in several communities.
In addition to the immediate need for doctors, Jagdeo identified a number
of urgently needed items, mostly for the hard-hit East Coast communities,
home to more than 120 000 people.
These include disposable diapers for both adults and children, sanitary
napkins, Ventolin for asthma sufferers, insulin for diabetics, baby food,
antibiotic cream, chlorine tablets, bleach, disinfectant and water containers.
“We need more help in the medical area. We need more doctors, especially
at this time and maybe if we get the water out, I think that’s the
most dangerous time. We are trying to clean up several thousand carcasses.
There is an endless number of animals – horses, cattle, everything.
All the livestock has gone,” Jagdeo said yesterday.
He added: “We are rattling up our infrastructure response, so we
need more pumps and excavators into the country to help to get more of
the water out and we need more help with the delivery of health care at
Asked if he had made any direct requests to Prime Minister Owen Arthur
for assistance, Jagdeo explained he had been busy managing the country’s
relief efforts but indicated a list had been sent to all CARICOM and international
countries soliciting urgent help.
“People have been on water for between eight to ten days and we
are worried about health in many of the communities. Fortunately, there
has been no major water-borne diseases so far,” he said.
The Guyana leader also noted that 30 medical teams had been specifically
deployed to affected areas.
“Later we can talk about rehabilitation and recovery, but at this
point, these are top priorities — getting the water out and taking
care of the health needs of our people,” he added.
Meanwhile, he dismissed as “nonsense” charges from the opposition
and other influential parties that his government had been politicising
the distribution of relief supplies.
“In every situation you have some people who try to capitalise and
make mileage out of this and I understand that.
“But what I don’t understand and agree with is that in such
disaster and at such a time that this should be done.
“This is not the time for politics,” he said.
During a WEEKEND NATION tour of the badly affected
east Coast communities, some residents accused the Jagdeo government of
distributing relief supplies on racial lines, charging that Indian communities
were getting the lion share.
But the Guyana president said that from the inception, the opposition
had been brought in on every committee.
“We are not attempting to hide anything,” he said, while pointing
there were initial problems with the distribution since certain districts
were not accessible because of dangerously high waters.
“We are sending truckloads of food over to them (the opposition)
to distribute to people. I am not going to get involved in this level
“Our people need us to remain strong and not to descend to these