Within the next 16 months, construction is expected to be completed on a new Barbados National Reference Laboratory which will be an amalgamation of the three public health laboratories currently in operation.
At a ground-breaking ceremony held yesterday at Enmore #2, Martindales Road, St. Michael, Health Minister John Boyce revealed that Barbados was providing US$3.1 million of the total cost of US$9.1 million.
The rest is being provided by the United States Government through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Mr. Boyce said that the amalgamation of the Public Health, Leptospira and Ladymeade Reference Unit Laboratories would optimise the delivery of laboratory services as well as rationalise the utilisation of laboratory reagents and the allocation of laboratory personnel.
???Consequently, Barbados will not only benefit from economies of scale with respect to laboratory services, but will have the capacity to provide these services to the other Caribbean countries,??? he explained.
The new laboratory will have biosafety level 3 capacity and improved laboratory safety. It will also have the capability for an enhanced range and quality of tests including haematology, serology, molecular biology, tuberculosis, bacteriology, chemistry and pathology.
Noting that the construction of the new facility and the re-alignment of the management structure bore testimony to the vision for laboratory services in Barbados, Mr. Boyce stressed Government???s commitment to excellence in providing quality laboratory services for the people of Barbados.
???In today???s world of the global movement of people and commodities and where events evolve rapidly, whether it is SARS, HIN1, dengue fever, chikungunya or Ebola, countries must possess the capacity to keep their people safe from disease and other threats to life.
???The new Barbados National Reference Laboratory will enable us to continue what we have been doing extremely well up to this point, but will enable us to reach even higher standards in performance and productivity, the Health Minister stated.??
During yesterday???s ceremony, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Mr. Boyce and United States Ambassador to Barbados Dr. Larry Palmer.
Mr. Boyce expressed appreciation on behalf of the Government and people of Barbados to the Government and people of the United States for ???their confidence in Barbados and their generosity in supporting the construction of this new laboratory.???