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Strengthening Suriname’s Health System: The Recovery and Resilience Project /

Suriname, like many other countries around the world, is experiencing the dual burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and COVID-19. NCDs, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer, are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Suriname, accounting for an estimated 70% of deaths.

Suriname was also severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020- 2022, with approximately 82,495 cases reported and 1404 deaths. The COVID-19 pandemic greatly exacerbated the NCD burden in Suriname, with people living with NCDs at a significantly higher risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 as the virus exacerbates existing health conditions and increases susceptibility to respiratory failure, organ damage, and other complications. Continued efforts are needed to address the challenges of vaccine hesitancy and pandemic fatigue, and to strengthen health systems to better prepare for and respond to future health emergencies.

In October 2022, Crown Agents and Newmont jointly launched the Recovery and Resilience Project, with the aim of enhancing Suriname’s health system and strengthening its ability to respond to health emergencies. The project directly supports the Ministry of Health and seeks to establish sustainable improvements in the health systems, thereby reducing the burden of NCDs and COVID-19. It is organized into four workstreams that work jointly towards achieving these objectives:

  • Workstream 1 aims to strengthen the delivery of NCD services while integrating Covid-19 vaccination into routine health services. The objective is to improve the availability of information and care for patients during routine appointments, increasing vaccine uptake and decreasing overall expenditure.
  • Workstream 2 aims to coordinate and enhance behaviour change communications (BCC) around healthy lifestyle choices, including COVID-19 vaccines, ensuring messages are well-coordinated and unified.
  • Workstream 3 aims to understand and address healthcare worker hesitancy towards healthy lifestyle adoption. This will involve developing strategies, modules and trainings to encourage healthcare workers to adopt healthier lifestyles, which will serve as a positive example to patients.
  • Workstream 4 aims to strengthen cold chain capacity to ensure the safe and effective distribution of vaccines.

Since the project’s inception, significant progress has been made towards achieving its objectives. Amongst others, the Healthy Lifestyle Officer programme has been relaunched, and behaviour change activities have been carried out in East Suriname.

In October 2023, a donation by Newmount Suriname to thirteen clinics of the Medical Mission (MZ) in East Suriname and Para included medical supplies and disposables such as point-of-care diagnostic devices, solar powered vaccine refrigerators and mobile ultrasound machines. This equipment, procured by Crown Agents and worth USD 425,000, will expand health services and equitable access to care delivery, especially for vulnerable groups such as patients with chronic diseases and pregnant women.