Minister of Health, Donville Inniss

Barbados is set to create history next month, when it becomes the first Caribbean island to take over the chairmanship of the World Health Organisation.

Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, said that once this happens, he would ensure that citizens from small island developing states had a greater presence within that body.

Speaking recently to public health students at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Mr. Inniss also expressed his desire to see more Caribbean people represented on international bodies and organisations.

"I go to [Pan American Health Organisation] meetings and the folks from Latin America are … demanding and get everything, and we sit back, docile.

West Indians are not the most aggressive; we go to meetings, we recognise there is a budget and there are programmes we can benefit from, but we take a back seat to our brothers and sisters from Latin America. Then, we wonder why they are getting all of the help down there, and we are struggling over here. It is because our voices are not being heard.

"I want to see more West Indians working in these international organisations than what currently exists. Barbados is a member of the Executive Board of the World Health Organisation. We are heavily tipped, next month, to take over as chairman of the World Health Organisation. I believe it is the first time a Caribbean island will have such an honour. One of the things I’ve always said is that once the opportunity presents itself, I am going to ensure that citizens of small island developing states do have a stronger voice and a stronger presence in these organisations than we have been having in the past," he told the students.

He said that at the regional level, Caribbean countries needed to agree on what they wanted to get out of these international bodies and aggressively pursue them "without fear of favour".

Mr. Inniss added that whenever there was a need for consultants, "it is usually somebody from Latin America or Eastern Europe coming around here telling us what to do" when the region had resource persons that were just as intelligent, qualified and capable of doing the job.


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