With the Government’s reluctance to ‘clamp down’ on the unqualified, many Guyanese living overseas who used to have dental and optical work when they return for a visit, reasonably confident that it was with someone who knew what they were doing; are in for a shock. The unqualified realizing the Government did not want to tread on potential donors to the Party coffers and take a swipe at the ‘comfortable’ middle-classes were embolden around 2000 to stop all pretence of having a qualified person on the premises – and boldly advertised themselves as ‘doctors’. In many cases, talented lab Technicians simply moved into the retail side of the business.
Interesting was the public’s response – they didn’t care. The current Minister of Health, while uttering Platitudes about the importance of being qualified, felt accessing PAHO funds for the Vision 2020 and providing low-cost spectacles was the primary goal. He then did not bother to examine the existing structure and super-imposed a Refracting Program designed by the Australians for rural Africa – grandly expanding it to a Degree program offered by the local University at the behest of a Barbadian company interested in selling spectacles - having no Lecturers!! After running everywhere begging equipment and personnel it all looks set to crumble in a wash of poorly qualified setting up spectacles shops without equipment! And might I add totally missing the point of the people in the remote areas having access to spectacles.
So today’s paper records the sorry case, more to come I’m sure, of a man on the East Bank visiting a well-known Dental lab staffed by a self-qualified ‘dentist’ being the nearest place to access treatment of a sort for a sore tooth – his overseas-based relatives had had previous treatment and were happy. Careless Guyanese never bother to check the name of the person who is treating them—a throwback to the days of be-grateful-for-whatever-you get slave mentality, so no doubt a different and less qualified quack moved in. According to SN, the ‘manager’ of the establishment advised the man that the tooth needed a filling only but in these days of the Ignorant having the money and calling the shots – and let’s face it – probably knowing marginally less that the unqualified – the man insisted on having the tooth extracted so he could save the ‘bus fare’ money – no more that U$ 0.50.
He paid dearly for his cheapness – he had to endure 30 minutes in the chair with the person doing the extraction rooting around in the gums using a small hammer to ‘knock’ around the molar. I have been very impressed about the ease of extraction of my impacted wisdom teeth by a little device that hooks below the base of the tooth and levers the thing out while I was in England. This is not the first story I have heard about bits of tooth being left back stuck in the Gum—a Cuban dentist did that to someone in Berbice!
So my question is what sort of standard is the Ministry of Health applying to dubious people to allow them to administer injections and X-rays?
I was amused that for the upcoming Glaucoma week—the Government-run program did not acknowledge ‘optometrists’ as primary-care practitioners after they have balls-up the entire meaning and are re-grouping to the more expensive European system of separate spectacle sellers and doctors to examine eyes- even though Europe is moving to the British/American system of optometry as the first line of visit to screen the general population. Sigh - in the meantime - more dubious places are cropping up - like a runaway train -it will be harder to justify shutting down a business run by an unqualified person.
The unfortunate man with pieces of tooth left in 'de hole' is contemplating legal action -- I note that it doesn't sound like any antibiotics have been prescribed and I hope his tetanus shots were up-to date!