Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, addressing the audience at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Regional Office Partners’ Meeting at the Hilton Barbados. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Plans are under way for a new state-of-the art reference laboratory to be built in Barbados.

Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, made this disclosure today, while speaking at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Regional Office Partners’ Meeting at the Hilton Barbados.

"…Recently, my ministry has entered an agreement with the United States Government to build a lab here in Barbados.?? This new reference laboratory will provide needed support to Barbados and other countries in the region," he explained.

Speaking specifically to the work of the CDC in the region, Mr. Inniss lauded the organisation for its work in responding to various health challenges such as HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and H1N1.

"I have noted that a major cross cutting theme of CDC’s work in the region is Health Systems Strengthening (HSS) which speaks to sustainability and development.?? In addition to augmenting laboratory services, there are other examples of this, which include: The Caribbean Health Leadership Institute program in collaboration with the University of the West Indies and building capacity in health research…," the Minister added.

The Health Minister also addressed the challenges the Caribbean faced with maintaining and improving its response to HIV/AIDS, while adequately addressing other pressing public health concerns with limited financial resources.

Explaining that incidences of HIV were on the decline, with a 14 per cent reduction in the number of new HIV cases over the period 2001 to 2009, and a 43 per cent reduction in the number of deaths due to HIV, the Minister, nevertheless, pointed out that the disease still continued to pose a socio-economic threat to our society, as it remains the leading cause of death among adults between the ages of 20-59.

He explained that the HIV/AIDS programme incurred costs in excess of $1.8 billion (USD) over the past decade, and contended that this current response was not sustainable economically.?? "The moment is now to further mitigate HIV’s impact, while augmenting the wider health system to ensure sustainability," he concluded.??

Over the next two days participants at the meeting will discuss a wide range of regional health issues, including: Priority HIV and AIDS Interventions; What CDC can do to support countries and partners; sustaining an effective national and regional HIV/AIDS response; and Management of Cooperative Agreements.


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