What Allicock should have said at the UNPFII

first_imgDuringhis statement at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) on May 18, 2016, Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Sydney Allicock, issued a statement which did little to deflect from the rhetoric of speeches delivered in the past.Some of the points he raised resurface at each Forum as matters of prime importance to Amerindians, despite the level of progress achieved over the years. For instance, the issue of accessibility to quality health care continues to stand out as an area in which the Government has failed miserably to provide for indigenous peoples.The Minister is quoted as stating: “There also needs to be improvement in the provision of health care services, personnel and facilities for indigenous peoples, in particular indigenous women and girls. Provision must also be made for emergency and medical services for all remote communities”.Ironically, the Ministry that Allicock heads cannot even take proper care of the sick it houses at the Amerindian Hostel in Georgetown.The Amerindian Hostel has stood out like a sore in the management of the Ministry—and for years now. It was common knowledge in the past to hear of the lack of maintenance of the Hostel, or rather, of the incompetence of the staff stationed there who failed at maintaining the comfort of the patients it accommodated.Reports of mattresses without pillows and bed sheets, mattresses on the floor, unhygienic sanitary facilities and mismanagement of resources by Hostel staff were common. The measures implemented in the past were insufficient in countering the challenges faced at the Hostel.However, with the advent of a new administration which won the May 2015 election based on a manifesto tanked up on promises of betterment for Amerindians, one would have thought that Minister Allicock and his gang of advisors would have, more than a year later, been capable of providing quality services for Amerindians staying in Georgetown. Unsurprisingly, as anyone can imagine, the situation has deteriorated further into one of shame for the Government’s inaptitude.It is unfortunate that no one mentioned at the UNPFII that now, there are two patients per mattress at the Georgetown Amerindian Hostel, and that the Ministry remains uncooperative when it comes to funding travel expenses for patients to return home. Instead, it prefers to house in the most uncomfortable of situations, patients who want nothing more than to return to their abodes in the interior.It is now easier to understand why the Regional Executive Officer (REO) of Region 9, Carl Parker, has officially signed the interruption of fuel reimbursements for patients and school children in the Rupununi, when the very Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs is reluctant and subsequently incapable of providing for his own people.Allicock has his priorities mixed up and would rather disregard his manifesto promises, as he expends hundreds of thousands to eat, drink and sleep in Lethem for the Ministry staff during the big Rupununi Rodeo sport, while patients are being forced to sleep on the floor and share mattresses. But the Georgetown Hostel is not an isolated case.In terms of primary health care, there are communities which, because they are not eligible for title under the Amerindian Act no. 6 – 2006, or do not identify as Amerindian villages, do not benefit from a Health Centre. Many of these communities are located on the coastal strip, but fall under the governance of Neighbourhood Democratic Councils and not Village Councils. Yet, they are populated predominantly by Amerindians, in particular Arawaks, Caribs and Warrous.Strangely however, the presence of the Indigenous Affairs Ministry, and initiatives aimed at promoting Amerindian development are absent. For the Ministry, these communities are irrelevant.Consequently, it is baffling that the Minister can sit at the UNPFII and speak of the need to achieve better health care for Amerindians in Guyana, when he has fallen short of respecting his contractual obligations as the first leader of the First Peoples of Guyana.This is just another display of how hallow the words of Allicock remain, deprived of will and effort to fight for the advancement of Guyana’s indigenous peoples.last_img read more