Remarks by Ambassador Lynch at Region 1 Medical Outreach

Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
Region 1 Medical Outreach 
August 5, 2021

Her Excellency First Lady Arya Ali,
Regional Chairman Ashley,
Mayor Phang,
Mr. Shaykh Moeenul Hack,
UN colleagues,
Guyanese and U.S. NGO colleagues,
Members of the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning.  It is a privilege to return to Region 1 as part of this week’s U.S.-government sponsored medical outreach.  The week’s activities are a continuation of the March education and teaching outreach the U.S. government sponsored, in coordination with the Government of Guyana, local and U.S. NGOs, including the Global Surgical and Medical Support Group, which is responsible for the women’s health portion of this outreach.

My presence today, and that of the U.S. government, in Region 1 is not an isolated occurrence. Our Civil Affairs team has been working with NGOs in Region 1 and across Guyana for many years, providing lifesaving care to those in need.  I had the pleasure of joining the Civil Affairs Team, the CIOG, and Guyana Medical Relief to respond to the flooding in Kwakwani in June, distributing food hampers and visiting those affected by the flooding.

I have heard uplifting accounts of the successful medical outreaches being conducted this week across Region 1, with both Guyanese and Venezuelans securing the medical care they have needed, including members of the indigenous Warao community.  Dentists from the Cheddi Jagan Dental Center are here from Georgetown and are providing dental services to many who have not been able to receive dental care.  This week health care professionals have seen hundreds of people and provided over one thousand medical services.

Our presence here today was made possible because we are all successfully working together – the U.S. government, the Guyanese government, U.S. NGOs, and Guyanese NGOs.  I would like to acknowledge Sharir Chan of Guyana Medical Relief, who was responsible for recruiting and coordinating all the medical personnel from Georgetown to support this outreach, and our own Civil Affairs Team which coordinated the U.S. medical personnel for this outreach.  Other NGOs here include Diaspora Auxilium, Guyana Cancer Society, and the National AIDS Secretariat.

I must recognize my colleagues from the IOM and UNHCR who have partnered with us for this event.  The UN performs essential work to protect migrants, working with the government to ensure those fleeing from hardship are not exposed to exploitation or trafficking.  Their work would not be possible without the close cooperation of the Government of Guyana, its immigration officers, and its security officers, to ensure that the area remains safe and that all who are living in the area can live free from fear.

Venezuela continues to the be the largest humanitarian crisis in the hemisphere, and since 2017 the United States has provided nearly $10 million to UN agencies to assist the migrant response in Guyana, in the areas of health, education, and protection.  We remain committed to this assistance in order to stabilize the effects of this crisis, which has affected millions of Venezuelans across the continent.

I must recognize the efforts of Region 1 leadership, the RDC in Mabaruma and the NDC in Port Kaituma, as well as the Regional Health Officer, Dr. Steven Chefoon.  I know the regional leadership has been facing the challenges and opportunities posed by mass migration and dislocation for quite some time.  As Guyana looks to a future where more people from around the world will seek to live and work here, it will be essential for national and regional authorities, law enforcement, and international partners to work together to ensure that everyone will be able to benefit from the opportunities that migration can provide.  At the same time, this cooperation must ensure that safety and security is maintained, and that populations can live harmoniously and be protected.

Finally, I would like to thank Her Excellency the First Lady for her presence here today.  I know women’s health has been a priority for you, and this week will ensure that those living in Region 1 can receive the care they need to live safely and healthfully.  The Government of Guyana has been clear that it does not discriminate when it comes to those seeking medical attention at its facilities, and I want to amplify and support that message.  This is even more important as the pandemic continues to upend life for us all.  COVID-19 does not care who you are or where you are from.  Vaccinations protect us all, as do the safety precautions mandated by the government.  When it comes to public health, we are all in this together.

I am overjoyed at the positive response to this week’s medical outreach, which will not be the last in Guyana.  Our commitment to public health and local communities is unwavering, and I wish you all involved continued success.

Thank you.