-GY$7 million investment sees the connection of ICT Hub, tele-medicine facility and four other key locations
The indigenous community of Orealla, located in the East Berbice/Corentyne Region, yesterday became the first indigenous community in Guyana to be connected via fibre optic cables and residents can now access free internet from six key locations that have been connected to the Government’s eGovernment network.
The GY$ 7 million project saw the use of 4km of fibre optic cables to connect an ICT Hub which is located in the Orealla Student Dormitory; the police station; Orealla’s central meeting place/benab; NCN/Radio Orealla and the Orealla Health Centre which now houses the first tele-medicine facility in the hinterland; a setup that will allow medical professionals to communicate with and acquire specialised consultation and treatment from central health facilities in Guyana and elsewhere in the world via video conferencing.
About the tele-medicine facility
The tele-medicine facility deployed in Orealla is the first of a planned eHealth initiative by government which will see residents living and working in over 100 hinterland communities being able to access affordable and modern health care using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Currently, the National Data Management Authority (NDMA) is deploying this equipment at major health institutions such as the Ministry of Public Health, Health Sciences Education, Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, New Amsterdam Regional Hospital, Linden Hospital Complex, Suddie Regional Hospital, West Demerara Regional Hospital, Bartica Regional Hospital, Fort Wellington Regional Hospital and Lethem Hospital. Once connected, health facilities within hinterland communities such as Orealla will be able to have real-time access to these larger institutions for consultation and treatment.
The e-Health solution is located at the Orealla Health Centre and will allow doctors to communicate with larger health facilities for consultation
Dr Lerone Henry, who is the doctor in charge at Orealla, said that the new system will be of great use to him and the patients at the Orealla Health Centre. “ The distance travel from Orealla to another district hospital is two hours with a boat so that time can be shortened in order to meet with other specialists via the tele-conferencing device where the doctor or the specialist on the other end can see the patient and I can explain the symptoms and signs and they can further advise me on what to do or how to stabilise the patient,” he said.
Minister of Public Telecommunications, Mrs Cathy Hughes, on April 17 visited the community for a commissioning ceremony. The Minister stated that use of the internet is extremely important, providing persons with access to any bit of information they can imagine. “The government of Guyana, under the guidance of President David Granger, realised that for too long the hinterland communities and remote communities do not have these services… so we said that we want o go to these communities and take these services to the people of Guyana absolutely free,” she said. She added that the ICT Hub, which is equipped with 10 laptops, each of which is equipped with the full list of Ministry of Education textbooks, can serve as a location where people can have their children access this vital information for free. More than that, however, the Minister gave several examples of how the residents can use the internet to enhance their businesses and earn money by advertising their services to the wide market that the internet makes available.
Minister Hughes and Mr Levi look on as a young Orealla resident cuts the ribbon at the Orealla Benab, one of the six locations connected in the community
Benefits of fibre optic technology
General Manager of the National Data Management Authority (NDMA), Mr Floyd Levi, during brief remarks stated that being connected via fibre optic cables allows Orealla to communicate with the world at lightspeed. “When we came here last year I met with residents of the village and explained what we wanted to do. Today, those plans have become a reality and it is right here for you to utilise,” he said. Mr Levi also thanked the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Ltd (GTT) for making the project possible, stating that the internet now being provided to Orealla was purchased by the Government of Guyana from GTT. “GTT was very instrumental in this project. They sent their engineers in to work with us to connect our fibre optic cable to their tower so I would like to acknowledge the technical support we got from GTT… I think they were a very good corporate partner in this venture,” he said.
Toshao of Orealla, Mr Carl Peneux expressed gratitude on behalf of the residents who, he said, are happy that they are now able to access the internet. Requests were also made by the residents to have professionals conduct basic training for the use of computers.
Following the ceremony Minister Hughes and team also donated five tablets to the village council as well as the farmer’s, fishing, women’s and sport groups in the community. Donations of kites and footwear were also made to the residents.
Orealla is located on the Corentyne River, approximately 33 miles south of Crabwood Creek.