Humanitarian Awards Ceremony at Kensington Oval – April 28th, 2022 (National Heroes Day). (PMO)

While they might not be deemed as National Heroes, those who were on the frontline of the COVID-19 fight were today hailed as heroes in their own right by Minister of Health and Wellness, Ian Gooding-Edghill, during the Humanitarian Awards held at Kensington Oval.

The Minister was delivering the opening remarks at the 2:00 p.m.  ceremony which saw average Barbadians, public and private sector workers, local and international agencies and organisations being acknowledged for their contributions to the COVID-19 effort.

He said the event was quite fittingly taking place at Kensington Oval, the location of “numerous cricketing triumphs for Barbados and the West Indies”.

“We, in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, salute and celebrate the honourees in our still unfinished national series against COVID-19, which we are confident will not result in a draw far less a defeat, but in an eventual decisive victory for our beloved native land,” Gooding-Edghill told those in attendance, which included President of Barbados, The Most Honourable Dame Sandra Mason, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus.

The Health Minister pointed out that without the “unselfish efforts” of those being honoured, Barbados would be worse off in its ongoing battle against  COVID-19.

He expressed gratitude to his predecessor, Lieutenant Colonel The Most Honourable Jeffrey Bostic for leading the Ministry of Health and Wellness, along with senior public health officials, during the early days of the pandemic.  He added that his combined leadership of the frontline teams has brought the country “this far”.

The Health Minister also thanked WHO’s Director General, Dr. Tedros, for travelling from Geneva to recognise the humanitarian efforts of all the honourees.

Humanitarian Awards 2022 (52)

“Dr. Tedros your presence in Barbados is symbolic of the genuine bond of friendship that you have formed with our Prime Minister; the respect and admiration that a small developing island has for you and your leadership of the World Health Organization.  We thank you for your continued passionate and confident global leadership, at the World Health Organization which continues to leave an indelible mark on the global community, especially during this COVID-19 phase,” he emphasised.

In his remarks, Dr. Tedros said he had deep respect, attitude and admiration for those who rose to the challenge during the pandemic.

“It gives me enormous pleasure to be here today to recognise the incredible contribution of Barbados’ health workers.  I offer each of you my deep respect, gratitude and admiration.  It is at times like this, times of crisis in our darkest days and hours, that we learn so much about ourselves and others.  We learn what’s truly essential, our health… and we celebrate the people who relieve our suffering and save our lives.  You, the… heroes of Barbados, rose to the largest global challenge in a century, putting your lives at risk to protect others.  And in doing so, you embodied your national pledge.  I pledge allegiance to my country Barbados, and to my flag to uphold and defend their honour and by my living to do credit to my nation, wherever I go,” he stated.

Mr. Gooding-Edghill also acknowledged the leadership of Prime Minister Mottley during the pandemic whether it was having the vision to establish the isolation centre at Harrison’s Point in St. Lucy, securing adequate COVID-19 vaccines, or her “unbridled determination and inspiration that preserved economic, social and national stability during a period of global uncertainty”.

“No other prime minister in the history of an independent Barbados has had to grapple with a pandemic and lead Barbados through the rampant phases of COVID-19 contagion, which could have left us with perpetual disorder and disaster. Mercifully, as we look around beautiful Barbados today, it did not happen. Prime Minister, you’ve earned and left your name on history’s page,” he said.

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