With the Zika virus kicking up rumpus in Brazil, there is growing discussion about moving the 2016 Olympics from Rio de Janeiro. However, the Olympics are so big and costly that few countries could attempt to take the Games with just six months to prepare. It’s a big ask.Beijing and London, host cities of the 2008 and 2012 Games, would probably be the best bets to take over if Zika forced Rio to defer. Both cities have the facilities and recent experience in organising the biggest multi-sport event in the world. With the schedule as tight as it is, those inputs are critical.One wonders whether all the other inputs could be mobilised in time. Volunteers play a huge role in running the sporting events and visitor hospitality, and by this stage their recruitment would need to be in top gear already. Even in the case of London, work might be needed to polish and shine the stadia that housed sporting contests four years ago. This requirement would be even greater for Beijing.Even so, their venue costs would be far less.Neither city may want to take up the challenge if Rio is out. Added to that, hosting the Olympics isn’t cheap. Beijing reportedly spent US$40 billion in 2008 and London shelled out US$13 billion in 2012. The Rio figure keeps morphing, but is probably some in-between the two. That’s not chump change.NO BEIJING OR LONDONWith the short time to prepare and the costs, it’s a good guess that Beijing and London won’t come running as substitute venues this year.If the Zika threat clears soon, the best bet will be for Rio to host the Games as planned. If the mosquito-borne virus infects the Games schedule, we could end up with an Olympics in 2017.With Brazil spending tons of cash to get ready, it’s going to be hard on that sports-loving nation to be left with a big bill, no Games and none of the financial benefits from increased tourism income.It follows then that if the Zika threat causes a postponement but is resolved by year end, the world’s best athletes could be doing the samba next summer. That’s the only solution that leaves Brazil with the Games it has worked so hard to prepare for.For everyone’s health and for the sake of the Games, we can only hope the Zika solution comes very quickly.n Hubert Lawrence attended the Games in Sydney, Athens, Beijing and London.
It was recently announced that Guyana has been lagging behind in terms of the health services it provides and the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Shamdeo Persaud, has assured that the Public Health Ministry is seeking to address this issue in its new health strategy for the years 2020 to 2030.Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shamdeo PersaudThis was revealed by the CMO during a recent interview with this newspaper.According to him, the health strategy will focus on implementing a range of new services that are currently unavailable to the public.“We are in the process of developing a new strategy for 2020 to 2030 and in that strategy, we are looking at really trying to improve the range of service that is offered in the public health sector and in collaboration with the Private Sector,” he explained.The CMO did not divulge many details on the soon to be ready strategy but would only say that the Ministry is currently in the process of assessing the current Health Vision, which expires in 2020.“We are aligning our new strategy to our National Development Strategy or the Green Development Strategy along with the other global health strategies, both PAHO and WHO have strategies that extend worldwide under the Sustainable Development Goal we are particularly focused on goal number three and we have some key areas there that we need to address.”As was pointed out in a recent interview, the CMO said he hopes to have issues such as the alarming maternal mortality rate addressed.Health Vision 2020 addresses the continuation of efforts to curtail communicable diseases in Guyana. Strategic actions include the strengthening of vector control services through the establishment of a unified framework and strategic information system for vector-borne diseases.Health Vision 2020 was drafted in the early 2000s to guide national health plans for the years 2013 to 2020. The seven-year plan aimed to “improve the timeliness, accessibility and adequacy of the supply of essential, quality, safe, cost-effective, scientifically sound drugs and medical products to health facilities in all the regions” and “improve service delivery through the establishment of Integrated Health Service Delivery Networks as the foundation for renewing primary healthcare and ensuring the continuity of quality, integrated and accessible care aligned to the needs of the population” among others.Notably, Health Vision 2020 had targeted the reduction of modifiable risk factors and premature mortality from chronic diseases.Under the previous Administration, Guyana had recorded steady progress over a ten-year period in improving health outcomes for Guyanese. Specifically, Guyanese were living longer, children had increased chances of survival, the epidemic of HIV/AIDs, malaria and tuberculosis was being brought under control through an aggressive national response and, overall, the country was on its way to meeting most of its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) health targets for 2015.Guyana’s national health agenda since 2008 was guided by the National Health Sector Strategy (NHSS) 2008 – 2012.The National Health Sector Strategy 2008 – 2012 targeted the vision – “Guyanese citizens be among the healthiest in the Caribbean and South America”. read more