Guyana is on its way to beating the HPV Scourge

January 2, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Guyana has a successful vaccination record, dating back to 1970, and over the years the programme has expanded; not only obtaining higher coverage for antigens, but also having a further reach across the country.

Vaccination efforts show that in the 1980s, the percentage coverage for BCG, for instance, was 68 percent. This figure climbed to 98 percent in 2016. Poliomyelitis, which is one of the diseases that causes deformity to an individual, was last seen in 1962 after the introduction of the Polio vaccine.

Having beaten poliomyelitis, Guyana moved its measles coverage from 67 percent in 1995 to 100 percent last year and, in 2016, was certified as having eliminated not only Measles but also Rubella.

“Vaccination is the number one public health success story, not only in Guyana, but worldwide,” Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Officer, Dr. Ertenisa Hamilton, recently boasted.

She is now eager for this “success story” to be repeated in the country’s combat against cervical cancer.

CERVICAL cancer is the 2nd most common cancer buffeting Guyanese women. Local figures show an average annual incidence rate of 46.9 out of every 100,000 persons in the population. Guyana has a population of some 747,000.

Two out of every three Guyanese women (or 66 percent) with cervical cancer are below the age of 60.  Those between the ages of 15-39 years comprise the population with the highest risk of developing cervical cancer.

Because only four percent of all the cancers are diagnosed at stage 1, when it is much easier to treat successfully, some 27 women out of every 100,000 persons of the Guyanese population die every year from the disease, according to local figures.

The statistics also show that Afro-Guyanese women have the highest incidence rate of cancer of the cervix, with 56.1 per 100,000 affected.

Since 2012, successive Guyanese governments have taken policy positions to help stop the march of the deadly disease in the 216,000 square kilometre former British colony with the introduction of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine among the most vulnerable in four of the 10 Administrative Regions.

Under a pilot initiative between 2012 and 2014, some 6,600 girls, 11-13 years old, received the HPV vaccine, GARDASIL, to protect them against cervical cancer when they turn adults.

A combination of factors forced a premature suspension of the HPV programme in the latter half of 2014; the chief problem being a “shortfall of HPV vaccines”, according to an official Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) document.

Internally, bad press, parental scepticism, doubts among health workers, disbelief by educators, mental rejection by the Guyanese public and no strategy targeting cohorts also helped ambush the initiative.

The Guyanese government, nevertheless, reintroduced the vaccine in the last quarter of 2017, targeting 36,000 girls, Dr. Hamilton said; despite increasing misinformation that the vaccine causes paralysis, coma and infertility among other dangerous secondary burdens.

There has been no scientifically proven evidence to support any of these claims. In fact, to date, 77 countries worldwide including Canada, the USA and England have all introduced this vaccine.

The inaugural HPV campaign in Guyana contradicts the popular GARDASIL side-effects narrative, since none of the 6,600 students in the pilot programme reported negative effects of the vaccine.

GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations, is helping to back the current push by the Public Health Ministry in Guyana to protect females from developing cervical cancer by immunising girls in the 9-13 age group, with plans of expanding this also to the boys and other age cohorts.

The country’s telling vaccination accomplishments and its proclivity to attract continued strong international support is a hint that Guyana is on its way to triumphing over the HPV scourge.

Doors for the Security of your Home

January 2, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

By Brian Ramsey – Amalgamated Security Services

Periodically, one reads about thieves who force their way into a home through one of the doors. Indeed, at one time, there was a phrase used in Guyana to describe these thieves— ‘kick-down-the-door bandits’.

Undeniably, external doors are one of the first entryways considered by thieves and therefore should be a priority security area for homeowners. While many homeowners definitely consider security when selecting an external door, a lack of understanding sometimes leads to poor selection, or sometimes good selection but poor installation. In this article we will address not just the physical door, but the security of the doorway, as at times it is the other elements of the doorway that are the weak points.

All exterior doors should either be made of solid wood or metal as those materials are difficult to break through. While solid wood doors can be used, there may be difficulty in obtaining these as most commercially manufactured doors in the Caribbean are actually wood panel doors.

On wood panel doors, the sections that hold the panels in place are very thin, short and glued into place. These doors can easily be kicked apart. Similarly, many wood flush doors are actually plywood sides with a hollow interior, so they can be easily kicked apart as well and thus should only be used as interior doors.

Doors that are called ‘steel doors’ come in several designs; they can be hollow steel doors, wooden steel-backed doors or ribbed steel doors. The minimum acceptable security specification for a hollow steel door would be two sheets of 18-gauge steel (1/20 of an inch each). While this specification is the minimum, it can be penetrated by a determined intruder who has pre-planned his attack. Therefore, it would be better if the steel is thicker, such as 1/10 of an inch.

A wooden steel-fronted door can also be used as a security door. In that design, the wood thickness should be three-quarters of an inch and then 12-gauge steel (1/10 of an inch) placed in front of the wood. The steel should be bolted to the door with the nut end of the bolt on the inside of the door and so not accessible to an intruder. When cladding steel to a wooden door, the steel must wrap around the top, bottom and sides of the door so that it cannot be pried away from the wood.

A ribbed steel door would be one where the steel on the door would be 1/8 of an inch and then reinforced with steel ribs on the inside.

There is now also the option in the Caribbean to purchase doors that have a decorative facing but with a steel sheet inserted inside the door. Many of these doors come with 3, 4 or 6 deadbolts built into the door (top, bottom & sides) so that when the door is locked, all the bolts engage simultaneously.

All exterior doors should be made to swing outward. When an intruder attempts to force their way into a building, they will apply force to the door to push it inward. By having the door swing outward, it means that the intruder will be applying force in the opposite direction to which the door is made to swing and therefore it becomes harder for the intruder to force the door open.

All exterior doors should be constructed in a metal frame of steel, aluminum alloy or solid hardwood core. The door frame can sometimes be the weak point in the security of a door and allow an intruder to enter notwithstanding how good the door and locks are.

Hinges are generally screwed into the door frame and if the frame can be jimmied away from the wall, then the frame can be moved. Frames should therefore be made of solid construction to prevent it from being forced apart.

The tolerance between the door and the jamb should never be more than 1/8 of an inch. A wider tolerance means that the door can be forced open or that the bolt for the lock is exposed, allowing an intruder to see the bolt.

If not correctly installed, hinges may contribute to the weakness of a door. If hinges are surface mounted, so that the mounting screws or hinge pins are exposed on the exterior of the door, intruders can quickly remove the screws or pins and gain entry by opening the door from the hinged side.

Ideally, hinges should be mounted on the interior of the door so that they are not exposed to an intruder. If the hinge is mounted on the exterior and cannot be relocated to the interior, then the hinge pins can be welded or flanged to prevent removal. An additional protective measure would be the use of hinge protectors, which have bolts that extend into the door and the door frame so that even if the hinge pin is removed, the door cannot be detached from the hinge side.

Another alternative regarding hinges is to install ball bearing butt hinges. This type of hinge has a cap, like standard hinges, but does not have a pin. Therefore, even if you remove the top of the hinge, there is no pin to come out. Instead, there are ball bearings inside which cannot be removed. This hinge is therefore suitable for external use. Even if the cap is removed, the intruder would not be able to do away with anything else, and therefore would not be able to get the door off.

External doors are an important component of the security of a home and so care must be taken in selecting the type of door you use. The care must, however, extend beyond just the door and include all components of the doorway. In another article, we will address the use of locks on external doors.


Money Talk… Non-performing loans and the decline of lending by banks

January 2, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Loans are a necessary risk in the financial world. Companies need it to grow their businesses; and the average man, to build his dream home. Banks, on the other hand, need companies or individuals to take the loans that they are offering. The bank gets to benefit by making you, the borrower, pay an interest rate.

When banks give out loans, they are engaging in a game of risk. There is never a hundred percent guarantee that the loans will be repaid as agreed. There are a number of things which could prevent a borrower from honouring his payment plan, such as the loss of employment or an accident.

In this regard, the bank gives the borrower a period of time to service the loan. In a case where no payment is made and all avenues fail to retrieve the money, the bank has no choice but to classify the loan as a “bad debt.” This is also called a non-performing loan.

Banks are expected to keep a watchful eye on non-performing loans. Failure to do this can have a serious domino effect on the society and the economy at large.

Banks usually have a certain amount of money stashed away to clear “bad debts.” But when non-performing loans are at a high and that “emergency fund” to write off those debts gets to its minimum, then it affects the bank’s ability to provide new and upcoming businesses with new loans.

This can have an effect on the housing sector, the construction sector, the agricultural sector, the mining industry, etc.

The scenario described above essentially sums up the situation that has been taking place in Guyana over the last few years. Non-performing loans in various sectors have been rising at worrying rates. And the banking sector, to protect itself, is not so keen on lending as it used to.

It is at this point that we shall dive head on into the hardcore statistics which were provided to the Guyana Inc. Magazine by Central Bank. The Bank of Guyana is also the manager of loans which forms part of the micro-prudential regulations.




According to Central Bank, the level of non-performing loans deteriorated by a further 17.1 percent following the 41.5 percent rise at the end of December 2015.

The deterioration was attributed to five Licensed Depository Financial Institutions (LDFIs). Non-performing loans represented 11.5 percent of total loans, 1.4 percentage points above the end of December 2015. Total loans grew by 2.0 percent over the comparative period to G$262,526 Million, with five LDFIs recording increases ranging 1.6 percent to 13.3 percent.

Five of the eight LDFIs recorded increases in the level of their non-performing loans, taking the aggregate non-performing loans 17.1 percent (G$4,412 Million) above the G$25,874 Million reported at the end of December 2015. The three remaining LDFIs’ loan portfolios improved with their non-performing loans declining within the range of 1.9 percent to 8.3 percent. The 17.1 percent rise in the overall level of non-performing loans was due mainly to a 12.2 percent (G$2,412 Million) increase in non-performing loans in the business enterprises sector.




On a sectoral basis, non-performing loans expanded in both the business enterprises and households sectors by a respective 12.2 percent and 32.9 percent when compared with 2015. The increases in the services and manufacturing sub-sectors of 33.7 percent and 7.8 percent respectively were responsible for the overall increase in the business enterprises non-performing loans.

The sub-sectors with the highest concentrations of non-performing loans were the construction and engineering sub-sectors, accounting for 75.6 percent of the manufacturing sector; and the distribution sub-sector (wholesale and retail trade) accounting for 43.5 percent of the services sub-sector. The housing sub-sector (including purchase of land and real estate) accounted for 65.8 percent of the households sector.

Provision for loan losses

The ratio of provision for loan losses to non-performing loans at the end of December 2016 was 44.6 percent, up from 37.7 percent at the end of December 2015.

Risk Assessment

The overall assessment of the banks’ credit risk remained high and increasing as the ratio of non-performing loans to total loans rose to 12.9 percent, up from 11.5 percent at the end of December 2015. Poor credit administration and inadequate credit risk management were the main contributors to this rating. Three banks were rated as high and increasing due to the growing levels of non-performing loans.

Loan Concentration

Loan concentration among large borrowers deepened with exposure to the industry’s top twenty borrowers as at December 31, 2016 of G$58,578 Million, reflecting a 4.3 percent (G$2,392 Million) expansion above the level at the end of December 2015. Four LDFIs recorded increases ranging from 1.0 percent to 23.9 percent in their respective exposures, while the remaining four LDFIs had respective decreases ranging from 5.1 percent to 15.0 percent. The ratio of the industry’s top twenty borrowers to total exposure was 14.6 percent, 10 basis points above the end of December 2015 level.

Loans to Related Parties

Loans to related parties of G$9,127 Million as at December 2016 were 10.7 percent below the end of December 2015 level, following a 14.5 percent increase from the previous year. The ratio of related parties’ loans to total loans was 3.5 percent, 50 basis points below the previous year. Loans to related parties remained concentrated in the ‘other related persons’ category, which accounted for 81.3 percent of the aggregate loans to related parties, 4.4 percentage points below the end of December 2015.




Lending by banks continued to be hampered due to a high level of non-performing loans in the system for 2017. This is according to the Finance Ministry’s half year report.

The document says that commercial banks remained well-capitalized in the first half of 2017 with a capital adequacy ratio of 26.6 in June 2017, compared to a ratio of 25.8 in June 2016.

However, non-performing loans increased from 11.9 percent in June 2016 to 13.1 percent in June 2017, with 61 percent of this increase concentrated among business enterprises.

Additionally, commercial banks small savings and lending rates reduced in the first half of 2017. The small savings rate was recorded at 1.18 percent in June 2017 compared to 1.26 in June 2016, while the weighted average lending rate was 10.34 percent, compared to 10.46 percent in June 2016.

Additionally, growth in mortgage lending increased, on average, by 4.5 percent, comparing the first half of 2017 to the same period in 2016.

Lending also grew, on average, by 7.4 percent in the services sector during the first six months in 2017, compared to the corresponding period in 2016. But these gains were offset by reductions in lending in the agriculture, manufacturing and mining and quarrying sectors.

Notwithstanding the high liquidity in the banking system, the Finance Ministry said that the high level of non-performing loans, combined with apparent risk aversion, continues to hamper bank lending.

On a sectoral basis, non-performing loans in the business enterprises and households sectors expanded by 9.1 percent and 24 percent respectively when compared with the first half of 2016. Two sub-sectors services and manufacturing, within the business enterprises sector recorded increases in their respective levels of 23.3 percent and 17 percent over the end of June 2016 levels.


Statistics provided by Central Bank

Timeka Marshall: Sensual, Daring and Incredibly Talented

January 2, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

When Timeka Marshall first hit the scene with her demure single, ‘We should separate’, it was official that this enterprising young woman had a promising future in the music industry. But in every cynical society there will be doubts, and even with her captivating beauty, Marshall was no exception.

Many questioned what genre she would cling to. They cast much doubt on her singing abilities and performance skills. They wondered if she would survive the next five years to come.

More than ten years into the game, Timeka Marshall is able to smile and wave in the faces of those cynics. With numerous tracks to her name, Marshall, who was born in 1989 on Valentine’s Day, has evolved into a sensual and daring performer whose presence is known in the Caribbean and she is already on her way to the pinnacle of international acclaim.

The former student of St. Joseph High School is not only balancing an already flourishing music career, she is also dabbling in promoting her own entertainment business. She has deemed it, ‘Premium Pink Entertainment,’ a femme fetish which brings ultimate pleasures and excitement to the Guyanese party experience.

With her promotion team, Marshall is no doubt the lone rose among the male-dominated industry. But her faithful sponsors and supporters are giving her enough to stamp her authority in this sector.

According to the sultry singer, the name ‘Premium Pink’ was actually coined from two ideas. She wanted something that was a cut above the rest of her competitors, hence ‘Premium’, and a name that reflected the girl-power behind the project, which justifies the addition of ‘Pink’.

Why did Marshall try her hands at this field? Well, she described herself as a “social creature” who simply found that there is something missing in the parties held locally.

She noted that the party environment or ambience here in Guyana does not always allow for Guyanese to leave the “reserved” nature or apprehensions at the door. The ambitious party promoter is hoping to change this outlook in the industry with her “premium-pinkness”.

Though her parties have all been successful, she still feels that there is more to be done; but she is, of course, very thankful for the support thus far.

Marshall is not only a musical addict, she is also obsessed with the gym; it’s a new love she simply can’t get enough of.

She shared, “About a year ago, I was far from being in shape. My party-girl lifestyle and bad eating habits manifested into a few extra pounds. I’ve since changed my lifestyle. I do Crossfit training as many days of the week as my body and energy allows me, I try to maintain a clean diet and I’ve cut out the excessive drinking.”




Marshall’s latest single is ‘Bend Mi Ova’. This track is a smooth mix of dancehall, soca and soul. The song, which was written sometime in January by Marshall, was done on the ‘Big and Sexy Riddim’ produced by Christopher Birch of Birchill Records in Jamaica.

According to Marshall, Birch is the one who would have mixed her recent big hit ‘I Won’t Stop’ on the Jambe-An riddim, built by Techniques Records back in 2014. She told the Guyana Inc. Magazine that the ‘Big and Sexy’ Riddim was actually built this year while sitting with Birch and, as a result, she was the first artist to write and record for the riddim. She explained that both of them wanted to capture the similar air and frequency of their previous project while undertaking this new piece.

“I just wanted a song that made the ladies want to dance, so that’s where the lyrics really came from. Birch and I have long spoken about working together. In fact, this is my third time recording for him, but not every project goes as planned. After building a good artiste/producer relationship, he decided that this was a direction he’d like me to try.”

Also featured on the riddim are Jamaican artistes Vershon, Mr. G, Charly Black, Elephant Man, Tatik and Razor B. When asked how she believes her song would have fared against the other artistes on the riddim, Marshall said that she is the only female on the riddim, so that is one way in which she stands out.

She added, “Everyone has their preferences and likes, so it’s a matter of time to see how the public gravitates to it. I’m hoping it does well, of course.”

When asked if we can expect another track or album anytime soon, the songstress said that presently she is only working on singles. However, she has become selective about the projects which she pursues. “For me, it’s about working smarter than harder.”

Marshall also opened up about what she perceived to be the biggest problem facing Guyana’s entertainment industry.

She said, “As of right now, I’d say there are two problems that are at the forefront; the 2 AM curfew and no copyright laws. The curfew has affected business persons in the entertainment arena tremendously. People aren’t going out as much anymore because of the time limit. I don’t think most folks understand how the curfew affected many jobs in and around Georgetown especially. Club owners, party promoters, bartenders, DJs, light and sound rentals, taxi drivers, boutique owners and salons are, just to name a few, some of those directly affected.”

The artist added, “With regard to the non-existence of copyright laws; take for instance you create a garment, you cover all expenses necessary to manufacture and market the garment and then it becomes very popular. Everyone wants one and somehow they are able to get it for free. After all of your hard work and investment, there are no laws in place to protect you or your product.”

Marshall concluded that this is what no copyright means to artistes.

Despite artificial surface handicap, Guyana’s male and females qualify for 2018 CAC Games

December 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

After much success by the Guyana Men’s National Hockey teams of the 1980s and 1990s, it was the Women’s turn to shine at the turn of the New Millennium. A revival drive saw the women catapult from Regional underdogs to being placed among the top 8 teams of a 30 team Region in 2012.  This ascent also gave the Guyana ladies the accolade of being the biggest global mover for this period by jumping 20 spots in the global rankings from #58 to #38 in the world.

Meanwhile, the men who had not been in competition due to lack of funding, managed to secure the resources to participate once again internationally in 2014 and again in 2016. In the Pan American Indoor Championships in Uruguay in 2014, the Guyana men managed to secure its first ever bronze medal for Indoor Hockey, signalling an impressive return to the international game.

That result was followed by two stellar performances in the outdoor game, where they narrowly missed a medal in the Pan Am Challenge in Peru and finished 7th in the Junior Pan Am Championships in Toronto.

Leading into 2017, both men and women had fallen in their regional ranking as a result of not being able to compete regularly at the international level. This meant both teams would need to attend the Central American & Caribbean Games qualifiers in Kingston Jamaica in November, this year.

This outdoor task, however, would be following closely on the heels of the Indoor Pan American Cup where Guyana would play host nation to international hockey for the first time in over 25 years.

With Guyana being one of the few remaining nations in the Pan American Region without an Artificial Pitch on which outdoor international matches are played, the indoor version of the game is the only way the team can enjoy the opportunity to perform for a home crowd.

The Guyana men would enter this year’s competition as the defending bronze medalists, while the women made their international debut in Indoor Hockey.

While the indoor tournament was a huge success from an organisational standpoint, the Guyana teams fell short of the medals despite putting in good performances throughout the competition.

The men lost out on retaining their bronze medal position by losing to Canada in the third-place playoff, while the women could only manage 6th place in their first international indoor hockey showing. Not a moment could be wasted after the Indoor Pan Am Cup as both male and female teams were whisked off to Kingston, Jamaica where much was at stake in the form of a CAC Games berth in Baranquilla, Colombia in July 2018.

The CAC Qualifier would determine the final two places in the CAC Games, which would go to the top two finishers in the qualifier.

The Guyana men steamrolled their opposition in the first three games of competition beating Puerto Rico, Panama and Guatemala by handy margins to secure a record of 15 goals scored with only one conceded.

Their final pool match against Jamaica was simply a ‘dress-rehearsal’ for the final as, by that time, both teams had qualified for the final based on their progression in the tournament. Despite a strong performance, Guyana lost to Jamaica by a narrow 2-3 margin and would hope to exact their revenge in the final the very next day.

Alas, fate would deal a tough blow to the Guyanese as power difficulties with the stadium lights caused the final to be abandoned after a scoreless twenty minutes of play.

By virtue of the pool round results, where Guyana had lost to Jamaica by one goal, the gold medal was awarded to Jamaica and the silver to Guyana with both teams qualifying for the CAC games.

Despite having to settle for second, Guyana dominated the individual awards with 21-year-old Aroydy Branford securing the top goal-scorer and Player of the Tournament awards and with Medroy Scotland receiving the Best Goalkeeper Award.

In Scotland’s case, this was a repeat of the Indoor Pan American Cup, where he was also adjudged the Best Goalkeeper.

After playing unbeaten in the pool round of the ladies competition, Guyana and Jamaica would match their male counterparts by reaching the final of the qualifier and securing the final two spots in the CAC games.

The Guyanese and Jamaican ladies had battled to a 0-0 stalemate when they met in the pool round and the teams had both scored 12 unanswered goals against the rest of the competition.

While both teams had chances during an entertaining final, the Guyanese side seemed more comfortable than they did in the earlier tie and managed to gain the upper hand in possession during the final two-thirds of the match.  Their efforts were finally rewarded when striker, Latacia Chung, managed a rebound shot off a penalty corner strike in the 48th minute to put Guyana ahead for the first time. The single goal was enough to secure the victory for Guyana, leaving a stunned home crowd consoling themselves that their team had also secured a spot at the CAC games.

The performance of the Guyanese teams in Jamaica showed that the quality of hockey in Guyana is still on par or above most in the region despite the handicap of not having an artificial surface on which to train and compete.

The teams now face the arduous task of trying to prepare on grass for what is likely to be heightened competition at the games where regional powerhouses, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Mexico will be present.

Liver Cirrhosis

December 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Before examining this disease, one must first understand the importance of the liver. This organ weighs approximately three pounds and performs a myriad of functions.

These include :the production of blood proteins that aid in clotting, oxygen transport, immune system function, storage of excess nutrients and the return of some of those into the bloodstream, manufacturing bile; a substance needed to help digest food, helping the body store sugar (glucose) in the form of glycogen, ridding the body of harmful substances in the bloodstream; including drugs and alcohol and finally, breaking down saturated fat and producing cholesterol.

Now what is Cirrhosis? Cirrhosis is a slowly progressing disease in which the normally healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue. This eventually prevents the liver from carrying out its functions properly. The scar tissue prevents the flow of blood through the liver thereby  slowing the processing of nutrients, hormones, drugs and all naturally produced toxins. It also causes slothfulness in the production of proteins and other substances made by the liver.

As it relates to the specific causes of this disease, most persons would be au fait with the fact that alcohol abuse can lead to liver cirrhosis, but it is not the only cause. Liver cirrhosis can also be caused by Hepatitis C and fatty liver disease. Basically, anything that causes damage to the liver can cause cirrhosis. These could include one or more of the following:

  • Fatty liver, associated with chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes
  • Chronic viral infections of the liver, e.g., Hepatitis types B, C, and D (although D is very rare)
  • Blockage of the bile duct. The bile duct allows for the passage of bile, formed in the liver, to the intestines where it helps in the digestion of fats. In babies, this is usually caused by biliary atresia, in which bile ducts are absent or damaged, causing bile to back up in the liver. In adults, bile ducts may become inflamed, blocked, or scarred due to another liver disease called primary biliary cholangitis.
  • Repeated heart failure with fluid backing up into the liver
  • Certain inherited diseases such as:

−             Cystic fibrosis

−             Glycogen storage diseases, in which the body is unable to process glycogen, a form of sugar that is converted to glucose and serves as a source of energy for the body

−             Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, the absence of a specific enzyme in the liver


  • Diseases caused by abnormal liver function, such as hemochromatosis
  • Reactions to prescription drugs, prolonged exposure to environmental toxins or parasitic infections.


While it is true that alcoholics can harm their liver in more ways than one with constant drinking, not all of them usually get liver cirrhosis. Coincidentally, female alcoholics are at a higher risk for developing cirrhosis than men. Also, people who have either hepatitis B or C are more likely to suffer liver damage from alcohol consumption.



The symptoms of cirrhosis of the liver differ with each stage of the disease. In the earlier stages, it might be asymptomatic or present with no symptoms. However, as the illness progresses, symptoms may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of energy (fatigue)
  • Weight loss or sudden unexplained weight gain
  • Unexplained bruises
  • Jaundice and itchy skin
  • Fluid retention which leads to swelling in the ankles, legs, and abdomen
  • Darkening urine colour
  • Light-coloured stools
  • Confusion, disorientation, personality changes
  • Blood in the stool
  • Fever



Cirrhosis of the liver is diagnosed through several methods. These include the following:-

  • History and Physical exam – This is the mainstay of all diagnoses as, 90 per cent of the time, the doctor can tell what disease you are suffering from based on your history and physical examination. During a physical exam, the doctor can observe changes in how your liver feels or how large it is (a cirrhotic liver is bumpy and irregular instead of smooth).
  • Blood tests- If cirrhosis is suspected, blood tests can be done to find out if liver disease is present.
  • Other tests- Sometimes images of the liver are needed to make a definitive diagnosis. As such a computerized tomography (CT scan), ultrasound or another specialized procedure called a radioisotope liver/spleen scan may be recommended.
  • Biopsy- Diagnosis can be confirmed by taking a sample of tissue from the liver and looking at it both macroscopically and microscopically.



Some of the complications associated with cirrhosis of the liver include:

  • Variceal bleeding- This is caused by portal hypertension which is an increase in pressure within the portal vein (the large vessel that carries blood from the digestive organs to the liver). This increase in pressure is caused by a blockage of blood flow through the liver as a result of cirrhosis. Increased pressure in the portal vein causes other veins in the body to enlarge (varices), such as those in the esophagus and stomach, to bypass the blockage. These varices become fragile and can bleed easily, causing severe hemorrhaging and fluid in the abdomen.
  • Altered Mental Status which includes confused thinking and other mental changes brought about by hepatic encephalopathy. This occurs after prolonged cirrhosis and the liver cannot break down toxins, which gets into the bloodstream and then affects the brain.
  • Kidney failure
  • Reduced oxygen in the blood
  • Diabetes
  • Changes in blood counts
  • Increased risk of infections
  • Excessive bleeding and bruising
  • Breast enlargement in men
  • Premature menopause
  • Loss of muscle mass



It must be noted that there is no cure for cirrhosis of the liver. However, there are treatments that can help to stop or delay its progression, minimize liver cell damage and reduce complications.

Treatment all depends on the underlying cause. For example, when the cirrhosis is caused by alcohol abuse, stopping the consumption of alcohol would help to stop the progression. If a person has hepatitis, steroids or antiviral drugs may be prescribed to reduce liver cell injury. For those with cirrhosis caused by autoimmune diseases, Wilson’s disease, or hemochromatosis, the treatment varies.

Symptomatic management is also key to survival, so medications may be given to help with symptoms. Edema and ascites are treated through the reduction of salt in the diet and drugs called diuretics are used to remove excess fluid and to prevent edema from recurring. Liver transplantation may be necessary for some people with the advanced form of the disease.

Remember that prevention is always better than cure, so it would be better to safeguard yourself. If you do drink alcohol, limit the quantity and frequency with which you drink. Abstain or keep away from having casual, unprotected sex with multiple partners. Always take caution when handling or using synthetic chemicals, such as cleaning products and pesticides. And one of the most important precautionary measures is getting vaccinated against Hepatitis B.

Guyana observes World Prematurity Awareness Day

December 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

World Prematurity day was observed on November 17, last. Throughout the month, there was great focus on lifesaving treatments and community support.

As most may know, prematurity is the number one cause of death in newborns worldwide. Fifteen million babies are born prematurely every year and more than one million die from complications. The babies that survive often have lifelong disabilities such as cerebral palsy, vision loss, loss of hearing and breathing problems.

According to a study done by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2010, 1800 babies were born pre-term in Guyana and 100 died from complications of pre-term births.

All around the world, organizations, health care professionals and individuals join together and show support for pre-term births and their prevention.

In April 2011, the Guyana Help the Kids Organization was established and registered as a non-profit organization in Toronto, Canada and subsequently in Guyana following a successful partnership with the Canada – Guyana Medical Partnership Coalition. The organization’s sole mandate is to work with the Government of Guyana to reduce infant mortality.

The Guyana Help the Kids Organization, in collaboration with The Ministry of Public Health and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation hosted the first Prematurity Awareness Walk on November 18, 2017.

The ultimate goal of the stakeholders involved is to improve the health of babies by preventing premature births so that more babies can survive.

Trouble Sleeping? INSOMNIA may be the culprit

December 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Not all persons are so blessed as to shut their eyes for a few seconds and sink into a blissful abyss. Many persons are wide awake until early hours, twisting and turning, dreading waking up and functioning at an early hour the next day.

If this describes you or someone you know, insomnia may be the figurative monster underneath the bed keeping you (or them)  awake at night.

It’s important for us to recognize what insomnia is, as well as how a lack of sleep affects our bodies on a day to day basis.

The term ‘insomnia’ is used to refer to a variety of sleeping disorders which affect sleep quality as well as sleep quantity.

There are three general classifications used to characterize insomnia: Transient Insomnia, where symptoms last up to three nights; Acute Insomnia, commonly known as short-term insomnia, where symptoms appear up to several weeks; and Chronic Insomnia, which lasts for months or even years. It is important to note that the last category is usually a side effect associated with other primary issues.

Insomnia can affect any individual in any age category, however, studies done regarding this topic show that adult females are more likely to be insomniacs as opposed to adult males.

Certain individuals may be more prone to insomnia such as: pregnant women, those who travel through time zones frequently, persons who use narcotics or even some prescription medication, adolescents and those who may work time shifts.

The effects of insomnia may range from daytime sleepiness, lethargy, and general feelings of being unwell both mentally and physically. It may also lead to mood swings, anxiety and irritability.

This disorder is usually caused by both psychological and physical disorders- chronic insomnia is usually caused by other main psychological diseases while transient insomnia can be caused by a change in circumstances.

This means that transient insomnia can be brought on by jet lag, a change in your working hours, moving to a higher altitude and extreme changes in temperature. Insomnia can also be caused by a plethora of medical conditions. These include strokes, heart conditions and fatigue syndromes.

The extent of the effects of the disorder varies with the different diseases and may affect each individual differently. Your hormones may also be blamed for your sleeplessness, as the presence or lack of estrogen, as well as the shifts experienced during menstruation have been linked to sleep disorders such as insomnia.

However, these are not the only factors; more common ones include your snoring partner, or the fact that you may be carrying a little one inside you who is awake all night. Sleeplessness, surprisingly enough, may be caused by genetics or even certain parasitic infections.

Less surprising, however, is the rise of studies showing that insomnia may be caused by the use of media devices until the wee hours of the morning. The light from these devices may affect sleeping patterns and have an adverse effect on the melatonin levels in the body and, as a result, affect the sleep patterns.


Symptoms of Insomnia are varied, but most

commonly they include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep,
  • Feeling tired and fatigued after a night’s sleep;

especially during daytime hours,

  • The inability to focus and poor concentration levels,
  • Tension headaches (which may feel like a constricting

band around the head),

  • Gastrointestinal issues.


Sleep deprivation can affect your emotional state and mental abilities. Persons who are sleep deprived may be more irritable and prone to mood swings. This may lead to poor performance at work, as your creativity as well as your decision-making skills take a dive due to lack of proper rest

Severe sleep deprivation can trigger manic depression or even hallucinations in persons with underlying psychological conditions; leading to impulsive decisions, paranoia and even suicidal thoughts. This can also lead to an effect called ‘micro-sleep’- the body has no control over these episodes where it falls asleep for a few minutes. Micro-sleep can be extremely dangerous, especially where someone is driving – sleep deprivation may cause serious accidents.

Lack of a proper night’s rest can also negatively affect the way your body fights illness, as the immune system uses the time when you take your naps or long rests to produce infection fighting substances. This means that lack of sleep detrimentally affects your body’s ability to resist infections and fight them off.

Obesity may also be a common effect of lack of sleep. Sleep affects the levels of two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which control feelings of hunger and fullness. Leptin tells your brain that you’ve had enough to eat.

Without enough sleep, your brain reduces leptin and raises ghrelin, which is an appetite stimulant. The flux of these hormones could explain nighttime snacking or why someone may overeat later in the night. A lack of sleep can also contribute to weight gain by making you feel too tired to exercise.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, it’s important that you seek help from a medical professional. Lack of sleep has a severely detrimental effect on both the mental and physical state.

Some types of insomnia resolve when the underlying cause is treated or wears off. In general, insomnia treatment focuses on determining the cause. Once identified, this underlying cause can be properly treated or corrected.

In addition to treating the underlying cause of insomnia, both medical and non-pharmacological (behavioural) treatments may be used as therapies. It must be stressed, however, that these should be recommended by a medical practitioner, as the type and underlying cause of insomnia may not always be clear based on the symptoms.


Some home tips to include:

  • Improving “sleep hygiene” – not sleeping too much or too little, exercising daily, not forcing sleep, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine at night, avoiding smoking, avoiding going to bed hungry, and ensuring a comfortable sleeping environment.
  • Using relaxation techniques – such as meditation and muscle relaxation. Some persons even use teas and essential oils to help them relax for bed. Chamomile tea or body washes formulated to promote relaxation are popular products on the market.
  • Stimulus control therapy – only go to bed when sleepy. Avoid watching TV, reading, eating or worrying in bed. Set an alarm for the same time every morning (even weekends) and avoid long daytime naps.
  • Sleep restriction – decrease the time spent in bed and partially deprive the body of sleep, this increases tiredness for the next night.


Medical or Therapeutic treatments for Insomnia include:

  • Cognitive therapy – one-on-one counseling or group therapy
  • Prescription sleeping pills
  • Antidepressants
  • Over-the-counter sleep aids
  • Antihistamines
  • Melatonin


Insomnia is not something that we can take lightly, its effects are very real and can have long-lasting consequences on how we rest and replenish, sometimes even for the rest of our lives.

If you fear that you may be struggling with insomnia or another sleep disorder, make sure you consult a medical practitioner and ask their advice on how to banish your sleepless nights.

How do we get the Diaspora to return to Guyana?

December 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The truth is, Guyanese abroad, who are accustomed to a way of life that involves efficient systems as well as service at an international standard, are easily disenchanted at the thought of returning to their homeland.

Sure, there are opportunities for investment for these possible remigrants, but at what cost? Would you want to return to the 1960s after enjoying the technological advancements of the 21st Century? Of course not! And that is putting it lightly in Guyana’s case. Therefore, in order to get our business-oriented minds to return and re-grow their roots here, something has got to give. There are many individuals who agree with this perspective too.

Speaking with the Guyana Inc. Magazine, University Lecturer and Political Activist, Dr. David Hinds eloquently said that the fundamental question before us is, ‘How do the authorities of the day begin to encourage members of that community to return and invest in their homeland when one of the major complaints by the ones already here is the amount of hands you have to grease in a mostly backward and broken system so as to get simple things done in a professional manner?’

Dr. Hinds said to even address such a predicament one must first acknowledge that corruption and inefficiency in both the public and private sectors are problems which have deterred Guyanese from coming back home. He said that those are the areas that need quick attention.

The political activist said, “There is a start as far as tackling corruption is concerned; we now know that the roots are deep and the reach is wide, so it will take a lot of effort and time to bring things to an acceptable standard.”

The columnist added, “As far as efficiency is concerned, perhaps that is an area that the Public Service Institute could tackle—training public servants in ethics and standards. These are critical areas. So yes, a new Diaspora initiative has to be supplemented by big efforts to decrease corruption, improve standards and efficiency in government and other public agencies. Otherwise, the situation will remain the same. It would only result in deterring our business-minded people.”

Head of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Godfrey Statia, a Guyanese who has returned to provide his services, shares those very sentiments. He told the Guyana Inc. Magazine that the first step is the creation of an investment code to create good financial and tax planning, as well as systems in place for consistency in treatment to our business-oriented brothers and sisters.

“Also, there is a need for a level playing field. While foreign investment should be encouraged, it should be by tax credits rather than exemptions. Exemptions allow for greasing; but with tax credits, this would not take place. Take for instance, fuel. Exemptions for this should be removed.”

The Commissioner General also stated that tax credits would be a great system, as it forces people to comply then get the rewards. “Sure there are millions of us overseas who are millionaires in our own right. But there is a need for a level playing field. I have advocated for this and I will continue to do so.”

The Guyana Inc. Magazine also sought the opinions of Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge, as it relates to the Government’s efforts in inspiring the business community of the Guyanese Diaspora to return to Guyana.

In this regard, Greenidge noted that while there are still many areas which need to be addressed,  the Government has made some significant steps. It is on this premise that Greenidge, an Economist, spoke of Government’s ‘Go See Visits’ project, under the Regional Project for the Effective and Sustainable Diaspora Engagement for Development in the Caribbean (ESDEDC), in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Mission in Guyana.

According to the Foreign Affairs Minister, the ‘Go See Visits’ project is indeed historic. He said that it represents a collaborative effort between the Government of Guyana and the IOM, which is unique since the project is an offshoot from the Guyana Diaspora Project (GUYD). GUYD was launched in 2012 with the expressed objective of streamlining, in a sustainable manner, the interaction and relationship between the Government of Guyana and the Guyanese Diaspora.

“As you are aware, the ‘Go See Visit’ project will, for all practical purposes, complement the efforts of the Government by helping us to tap into the human and financial resources available within our Diaspora, among other deliverables. However, what is opposite to note is the fact that the project also offers the Government the opportunity to provide assistance though facilitating structured access to stakeholders, including policy makers, to help germinate business ideas that enterprising members of our Diaspora may have. It’s a win-win situation, as diplomats would say.”

“This ‘Go See Visit’ project, therefore, must be recognized as a tangible effort to further cultivate and strengthen relations with the Diaspora. The efficacy of the project, undoubtedly, is reflected in its main objective of exploring the possibilities for creating small and medium size enterprises (SMES) through the establishment of community and entrepreneurial development initiatives that will enable growth, productivity, exports and employment in low-income communities in Guyana.”

Accordingly, Minister Greenidge said that the project aspires to achieve the practical goal of creating employment in low-income and vulnerable areas, among others. And as a pilot project, he opined that its success will certainly precipitate its sustained replication, an outcome for which the Government of Guyana is most desirous.

As a result of the ‘Go See Visit’ Project, the Foreign Affairs Minister noted that the Government has received several business proposals, with regard to exploring investment possibilities in a number of areas, including Information Technology, Agro Processing, Financial Services, Tourism and Customer Services, Renewable Energy and Health Care Services.

“I would also like to state here in this interview that the Government of Guyana wishes to commend the efforts of all prospective investors and entrepreneurs who have shown the interest in responding to our request for submission of interest in participating in the project, and especially those who have been selected since the project first came out.”

The open process of inviting members of our Diaspora to submit proposals of interest was facilitated through the GUYD website, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, Diaspora organizations, and Consulates abroad.

The selection process was carried out in collaboration with the IOM Mission in Guyana. As part of the process leading up to this project, the IOM also facilitated a Consultant’s report on “An Assessment of the Needs and Interest to Support Local Initiatives in Guyana: Exploring Opportunities for Diaspora led SME’s in Low Income Communities in Guyana”.

In this regard, Minister Greenidge sought to underscore the fact that the Government’s ongoing sustainable thrust to engage and espouse the Diaspora goes way beyond obligatory efforts at fostering national identity and highlighting and appreciating our cultural diversity abroad.

“Instead, the Government of Guyana’s enhanced Diaspora engagement efforts also include critical national development pursuits that require us to harness the expertise, resources, capacities, and goodwill of Guyanese world over. And it is in this context that we should place this ‘Go See Visit’ project.”

It is no secret that the Guyanese Diaspora comprises our country’s men and women who number perhaps as many as us who reside in Guyana, and arguably even more, as is posited by some commentators.

But according to the Foreign Affairs Minister, the Government is extremely mindful of the importance of each of the constituent groups that make up the Guyanese Diaspora, whether in the Caribbean, North America, Europe, Africa, Asia or elsewhere. As such, Greenidge said that the Government is committed to ensuring, at all times, it’s stated and functional Diaspora strategy reflects this policy in a transparent and evenhanded manner.

Greenidge commented that Diaspora engagement in today’s world has taken on proportions that have evolved out of the complexities of an international arena in which rights and privileges are sacrosanct.

Similarly, he posited that national governments have had to be cognizant of these global shifts and take appropriate action at the local levels. It is in this context that he said Diaspora affairs have not only grown in complexity and influence, but also in relation to the demands and expectations of national governments.

“I am happy to inform you that the Government of Guyana, again in collaboration with the IOM, is in the final stages of concluding our new Diaspora Engagement Strategy and Action Plan, which will formally guide our relationship with Diaspora, particularly the business community. The government has absolutely no equivocation whatsoever about the critical role our Diaspora must play in Guyana’s development, as our country strives toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030, and well beyond.”

According to the Foreign Affairs Minister, the new Diaspora Engagement Strategy and Action Plan will address the concerns which the members of the Diaspora have had over the years.

He said that this comprehensive policy document will not be dormant ‘white paper’. Instead, it will be a policy guide that will require stakeholders to adhere to principles based on international and other proven best practices, and will be predicated on the unavoidable pervasive precepts of accountability and transparency.

CDB $2B Skills Development and Employability Project to be rolled out in schools

December 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The Government of Guyana, through the Ministry of Education, has launched the Guyana Skills Development and Employability Project. This venture is being funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The cost is US$12,252,000 (GUY$2.4B).

The institutions that will be targeted under this project are Fellowship Practical Instruction Centre (PIC), Region Three; Beterverwagting PIC, Region Four; Hopetown PIC, Region Five; St. Ignatius Secondary School, Region Nine; Bartica Secondary School, Region Seven; Mahdia Secondary School, Region Eight and North-West Secondary in Region One.

The aim of this project is to boost Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) in Guyana.

It will provide school leavers with the opportunity to attain and acquire the appropriate skills and competencies to successfully enter the job market, an economic enterprise or to pursue appropriate post-secondary education and training.

The project is the second of its kind in Guyana. Under the first project, the Leonora and Mahaicony Technical Training Centres and the Development of a Data, Records and Information Management System came into being. The current initiative has been described as ‘timely’ since it will answer a multitude of questions. This is according to Assistant Chief Education Officer (ag), Mr. Michael Turner.

“This project will answer the question of how to reduce the cost of access to TVET for young people completing secondary school and of course those unable because of learning or other impediments. These young people will now be able to develop skills and competencies in greater numbers because of the ease of access that will be afforded by Technical and Vocational Education being provided closer to home.”

Mr. Turner is of the view that Guyana must return to producing and maintaining the high level of skilled workers that are encouraged to remain as contributory citizens to Guyana’s economy; students that will not find it necessary to leave the country to gain better remuneration for the skills they have acquired.

CDB Portfolio Manager, Social Sector Division, Dr. Idamay P. Denny has said that the direction of the project coincides with the approach and strategic direction of the Bank.  According to Dr. Denny, at the CDB’s recent Board of Directors meeting in October 2017, a new Education and Training Policy and Strategy was approved and linked in many ways to the region’s political priority of delivering sustainable employment, social parity and inclusive growth.

“In this regard, the Bank’s agenda is clear. As the leading multilateral development agency in the region, we will continue to work with our borrowing member countries to ensure that our people and their skills are at the heart of the region’s growth and development. This is our mission.”

Dr. Denny stated that since the beginning of the 21st Century, Guyana’s economy has experienced sustained growth and poverty levels have seen some decline.  “To remain on this growth trajectory, the country has made a conscious decision to give the development of skills a much more explicit focus in its development strategy.”

This Skills Development and Employability Project is a Pilot Project, according to Chief Education Officer, Mr. Marcel Hutson. The initial exercise is expected to result in all students across the secondary sector to access skills training for the world of work or continuous lifelong education.

According to Mr. Hutson, the project will place Guyana’s secondary sector on parity with its counterparts in the Caribbean, thereby fulfilling the CARICOM TVET strategy of streamlining TVET in secondary schools, allowing students to leave school with a skills certificate, in addition to the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC).

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