Minister of Health, Donville Inniss

Top government officials from across the region are expected to converge on the island next week to attend a high- level forum that will seek to address opportunities and challenges encountered in the delivery of effective healthcare in the region.

This will occur when the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC), together with CARICOM and the Government of Barbados, hosts the CBC-CARICOM Ministers Summit: "Strengthening Healthcare Delivery in the Caribbean: The Role of Infrastructure, e-Health and Clinical Management."

The regional Summit, which targets ministers and senior officials, will take place at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre at Two Mile Hill, from June 15 to16. The opening ceremony will start at 9:00 a.m. with addresses by Barbados’ Health Minister, Donville Inniss and Commonwealth Deputy Secretary General, Ransford Smith.

A key objective of the session is to provide participants with a much clearer idea of how to develop programmes and partnerships to successfully implement healthcare infrastructure; e-Health policies and solutions.

Following the event, the CBC will assist with developing strategies in direct collaboration with the relevant Ministries and the most appropriate private sector stakeholders, with a view to successfully addressing country-specific requirements or priorities.

The Summit is being held against the backdrop that Governments across the CARICOM region are keen to address the growing need to provide fully staffed and equipped modern hospitals to adequately meet public health requirements, in line with the relevant Millennium Development Goals.

It is therefore being seen as an invaluable initiative to provide key policy-makers with an in-depth perspective on important parameters, such as building local capacity for hospital/clinical management, cost-effective financing and procurement of medical equipment.

At the 2008 Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting in Geneva, e-health was seen as an evolving priority for countries, and Health and Finance Ministries across the CARICOM region will particularly benefit from the conference which examines the specific requirements of their own countries.

The meeting will also address the need for integrated approaches to e-Health involving not only Health Ministries, but other stakeholders such as ministries responsible for Information Communications Technology policy and implementation.

To this end, key issues on the agenda will include examining best practice approaches for the provision of electronic medical records, collaborative patient-care, tele-medicine and training.

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