BARBADOS’ HEALTH CARE system has come in for high praise from the Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization’s (PAHO/WHO) new representative to Barbados, Dr Godfrey Xuereb.
He made this observation during a courtesy call on Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, at the Ministry on Culloden Road, St Michael, last Friday.
During the meeting, Dr Xuereb credited Barbados for maintaining an excellent health care system and noted that it was “key for a good health service to reach all the people and to ensure that there was no stigmatisation or discrimination between those who can and cannot afford health care”.
In turn, Senator McClean reiterated government’s commitment to health care and disclosed that since post-Independence, Barbados continued to commit significant resources to health and education, given their importance to national development.
“We see the benefits [because] it is really an investment…our people are our main resource…In the absence of good health, the whole issue of productivity comes into question. And, therefore, for us, it is important. We obviously recognise the importance of working with the World Health Organization and PAHO – two critical agencies with which we work nationally and regionally – so it is important for us to be in a position to facilitate you,” she said.
The Foreign Minister alluded to the challenges posed to Caribbean governments’ health budgets by chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs). Acknowledging that battling CNCDs was one of the largest elements of the national budget, she said that a disproportionate amount went to addressing obesity and the consequences of diabetes, hypertension and cardiac challenges.
Senator McClean added: “It is important for us to focus not only on sensitising the rest of the world, but also our people, to the dangers of what are largely known as lifestyle diseases.
This is also part of our efforts now to address the issue of prevention because that is so critical and it is something that concerns me particularly [in] our youth. Perhaps this is an area in which we need to find opportunities to collaborate.”
The two officials also discussed a range of health issues impacting the region and the requisite control measures.
Dr Xuereb, a national of Malta, replaces Dr Ernest Pate, who retired as Caribbean programme coordinator and PAHO/WHO representative to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries on July 31. (BGIS)