Minister of Health, Donville Inniss (FP)

With a modern, state-of-the-art public health laboratory set to open in another two years, Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, has stressed the need for the continuous training of laboratory technicians.

The new facility will bring the existing laboratories – the Public Health Lab, the Leptospira Lab and the Ladymeade Reference Unit Lab – under one roof. It is a collaborative effort between the Government of Barbados and the United States’ Centre for Disease Control.

Speaking recently to students pursuing the University of the West Indies’ Faculty of Medical Sciences Master of Public Health degree, Mr. Inniss pointed out that while it was crucial for these technicians to keep up-to-date with advances in technology, it was sometimes difficult for them to get time off to receive the necessary training.

"There is always new technology coming out and we need to ensure that our staff is afforded the opportunity to learn these new skills and learn about new technology as well. I am amazed at how easy it is sometimes for other health care professionals to get time off from work to get scholarships to go and study but when it comes to folks who work behind the scenes providing such a valuable service, it is almost as though you have to quit your job and get a bank loan in order to further your education. It makes no sense," the Health Minister said.

Mr. Inniss emphasised the importance of the work done by these professionals, saying that doctors’ success was often determined by the kind of laboratory services they provided. To this end, he said Government had to ensure they were equipped with the right tools to do their job, since they provided a critical service not only to public health care, but to the private sector as well.

He acknowledged that some of Barbados’ success with respect to HIV and AIDS had to do with its ability to carry out diagnostic work, particularly in the area of confirmatory testing. These services were also being provided to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States countries which, in the past, would have had to access them in other parts of the world.

Mr. Inniss said that by having these services available in Barbados, Government had been able to bring the costs down as well as monitor how diseases were progressing in individuals.?? He explained that bringing the three laboratories together in one facility would not compromise the range of services offered, but would instead, expand these services and build capacity which, he explained, was part of the Ministry of Health’s programme to strengthen the health care system.


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