MORE ATTENTION TO PRIMARY HEALTH CARE

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 Minister of Health, Donville Inniss

Good health, along with education and the development of strong democratic structures, provides the foundation for the continued development of our countries. 

This observation was made today by Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, as he delivered opening remarks at the start of a Multi-Country, Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on Inter-Professional and Collaborative Practice Strategies for Renewing Primary Health Care. It was held at the headquarters of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Dayrells Road, St. Michael.

The Minister told the audience, which comprised regional health care professionals, that “a population that is socially, physically and mentally healthy is necessary now, if we as a people will not only cope, but thrive in these challenging times.“

Mr. Inniss noted that primary health care continued to be a key component of health care delivery in this country, with Government allocating over $300 million to the national budget. He admitted that although Barbados had demonstrated good indicators for rates of infant and maternal mortality, life expectancy at birth, access to clean drinking water, immunisation coverage and low incidence of communicable diseases, there was still much room for improvement.

The Health Minister further indicated, that for more than a decade, the most significant epidemiological trend in Barbados had been the increasing prevalence of overweight persons and chronic non-communicable diseases.  This, he stressed, was a worrying factor which CARICOM Governments were addressing, especially through their response to the Port of Spain Declaration issued by the CARICOM Heads of Government in September 2007.

He remarked that developing and implementing comprehensive programmes and services that responded to emerging health needs was an immediate priority for the health sector. However, at the same time, he urged policy-makers and planners to “grapple with the challenges which will have to be addressed if the health sector is to provide a high quality, cost efficient service that continues to contribute to national development. 

“In addition, there is also a need for close monitoring and analysis of specific aspects of health care to provide the basis for effective contingency planning, particularly in relation to services for the most vulnerable population groups,” Mr. Inniss said. “For instance, it is likely that persons who normally access health care services in the private sector may turn to the public sector if household income declines,” the Minister added.   

In her address, PAHO’s Caribbean Program Coordinator, Dr. Bernadette Theodore Gandi, stated that in the past some of the major constraints of primary health care were “the lack of multi disciplinary approaches, thinking in silos, lack of inter-programmatic approaches and poor team work amongst health professionals.” She stressed that “inter–professional education and collaborative practices” were important strategies in overcoming some of the constraints needed to equip a healthy workforce with the skills and attitudes to deliver in a participatory approach within the health sector.

Meanwhile, in her report, Coordinator of Health Professionals and Network Chief Scientist, Nursing and Midwifery at the World Health Organisation, Dr. Jean Yan, reminded persons that the health of the nation was “the wealth of the nation”. She urged participants to continue to work together and to adopt a collaborative approach if the Millennium Developing Goals were to be achieved.

The two-day seminar attracted health-education professionals locally and regionally as well as those from the United States and Canada.

clashley@barbados.gov.bb

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