From left: Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and Wellness, Janet Phillips; Chief Medical Officer (ag), Dr. Kenneth George; and Minister Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic pose with some of the supplies donated by PAHO, who was represented by Dr. Yitades Gebre (right). (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant-Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, has welcomed the latest donation of medical supplies from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), stating it would help to bolster Barbados’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was speaking at a handing over ceremony at PAHO’s Barbados office at Dayrell’s Road, Christ Church, on Tuesday.

The donation included personal protective equipment kits, containing surgical masks, respirators, gloves, gowns and face shields. PAHO also provided vital signs monitors, infusion pumps and 20,000 rapid antigen-based diagnostic testing kits.

Minister Bostic described the donation as timely, given the recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases.  He added that the items would complement the Ministry’s existing supplies.

He also highlighted the importance of receiving the antigen test kits at this time, indicating this would help to address the backlog of tests to be processed.

“The Antigen Rapid Test is most timely because that has been a recommendation from PAHO to help us out of the current situation. We have already started using [this test] … and this really would take us a fairly long way until we are able to purchase additional stock. This is very much appreciated,” Minister Bostic said.

The Health Minister lauded PAHO for its continued support, noting that apart from the donations of equipment and other supplies, it has also provided technical assistance.

Repeating his mantra of “no retreat, no surrender”, Lieutentant Colonel Bostic urged Barbadians to remain calm and not lose confidence in the island’s public health care system.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant-Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, speaking at a handing over ceremony of medical supplies and equipment from PAHO on Tuesday. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

“We’re making some progress, but we still have a fight on our hands; but I give the assurance that day in and day out the staff continue to work to be able to defeat this one, and at the end of the day, I am absolutely certain that we will conquer,” the Health Minister declared.

He continued: “We are here to win this battle ….  There are times we are going to be down, and as I said at the beginning of this battle, when we fall, we will dust ourselves off and pick ourselves up and start fighting again because we are committed to doing this for our country and our people.”

Meanwhile, PAHO’s representative to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Dr. Yitades Gebre, said he was confident the current outbreak in Barbados “will be managed and contained”, once appropriate interventions were implemented in a timely manner.

Noting there was no one-size fit all solution to the challenge resulting from the pandemic, as well as the delicate balance between protecting lives and livelihoods, Dr. Gebre noted the need for Government and citizens to continue to work together for the benefit of all.

“We need to learn from this experience ….  We can keep the transmission down by knowing and lowering our own risk. We need to follow through on our commitment as individuals, as communities and governments in recent weeks, to continue to build public health surveillance, to work with communities to maintain public health and social measures enforced by the Government of Barbados. We have to be able to continue to take these actions [in order] to be able to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” the PAHO representative reiterated.

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