The Guyana Foundation was invited to be a part of an International Conference on Mental Health dealing with suicide, domestic and child abuse, as well as alcohol addiction. The conference was hosted by the provincial government of Ciego De Avila and the University Of Medical Sciences Of Ciego De Avila on 18th – 20th January 2017 in the Republic of Cuba and was attended by Founder, Mrs. Supriya Singh-Bodden and Managing Director, Ms. Susan Isaacs. The Guyana Delegation was led by Guyana’s Ambassador to the Republic of Cuba, Mr. Halim Majeed, and his personal assistant Ms. Mayte Perdomo.
In May of 2016, Founder of the Guyana Foundation, Mrs. Singh-Bodden visited the University of Ciego de Avila, where Guyanese students have been studying to become medical doctors in a long standing scholarship program between the governments of Cuba and Guyana. She made a request for assistance for Guyana to be able to access training for more mental health professionals to combat the problem of suicide, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, among many issues. The government of Cuba and the Rector of the University and his team took the request very seriously, thereby, the conference was organized.
The contributors included ,Dr. Illiana Gourget Pi, an author of several books dealing with the prevention of suicide came from Santiago de Cuba; Dr Leon Marmol Sonora, a specialist dealing with alchohol addiction; Dr Grisel Maria Alonso Guitierrez, who specializes in child abuse; Dr. Carmen Rey Benguria who lectured on domestic violence; were among the main contributors.
Mrs. Singh-Bodden delivered the first presentation which was followed by the other lecturers. In her opening remarks, she thanked the government of Cuba and the Management of the University for opening up this opportunity for Guyana and the Guyana Foundation to have access to the knowledge of these highly trained professionals. She outlined the problems Guyana faces in matters of abuse addiction and particularly suicide. She shared an overview of some of the work of the Guyana Foundation to a large audience who responded with a standing ovation. Excerpts of the presentation were released on Cuban radio and television.
In a global context she stated, “The planet as we know it today is not only at risk from worrying environmental issues that force us to change the way we live, to protect our oceans, our forests, our atmosphere, Our planet is also hemorrhaging from the loss of lives as more and more people are gunned down in acts of terror, suicide, and various forms of abuse that end violently and fatally. This cannot be the way forward for mankind. We cannot begin to accept this as the norm. Something has to be done to address mental health issues and it has to be a global effort.”
The University has committed to make this conference an annual event to bring together many more countries to focus on these issues.
Meanwhile The Guyana Foundation is in the process of preparing a Memorandum of Understanding that will allow the Foundation to access Cuban resource materials and professionals to travel to Guyana to assist in its work.