A cross section of the audience at the symposium. (C. Pitt/BGIS)??

Despite the continued investment in education and training, Barbados is yet to truly develop a culture of research in all areas.

Minister of Health, Donville Inniss pointed this out today as he addressed the start of the 11th Annual Professor E. R. Walrond Scientific Symposium in the auditorium of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).

He said: "Our culture still forces us to go to school, get an education, get a well paying job, create a family, get a house, work hard, watch the kids grow, retire and then go meet your maker. Life around here is like a revolving door with too little creativity. There is a culture that says things are best done when we keep doing them the same way our forefathers were doing them.

"This same culture creates a management system in both [the] public and private sectors that does not encourage, facilitate or reward research in relevant areas. This same culture would gladly find money for a new office tower or new furniture, but not research facilities."

Mr. Inniss: "We believe foreign nations and foreign nationals must do the research and we will buy their products and services. I dare say that such notions must be relegated to the dustbin of ancient management practices if we are to truly move our society forward in a sustainable manner. Whether it be in manufacturing, medicine, management or any other area, the Caribbean must, as a matter of urgency, cultivate a research culture – this is one major way in which we can open new frontiers."

While commending the participants, Mr. Inniss urged them to "continue to think outside of the box, to challenge our traditional way of doing things and to find innovative solutions to our complex challenges".?? And, he told organisers of the event that the symposium could only "stimulate and encourage bright, intellectual minds to use their abilities to bring about positive changes in the health status of Barbados and the Caribbean region".

Research was deemed by the Minister as playing a significant role in improving health and health equity by developing and evaluating interventions, and by the transferring of knowledge into working solutions to health problems. "In addition, it has been argued that research is vital to economic growth and development," Mr. Inniss underlined.

The role of the Chronic Disease Research Centre was also highlighted and it was explained that the Ministry’s support of the facility was aimed at making inroads on research in the area of chronic diseases. ??He noted that research relevant to cancer, diabetes, disease of the eye and wound healing had been conducted, and he said, "such research would be used to address our high incidence of chronic diseases in our population, as well as allow the Ministry to make a determination on cost-effective intervention and treatment."

It was further pointed out that research was even more critical, especially given the current economic and financial climate that exists globally.?? "The short-term and long-term implications for the health of nations will be significant. We are being forced to sit up and re-examine our status within the world environment.

"We have to find answers and solutions to our present socio-economic climate, for this will impact greatly on the health of our nation; especially, as we look at the current trends in health," Mr. Inniss maintained.

The symposium was inaugurated in 2001 as part of the academic activities celebrating Professor Walrond’s lengthy tenure in the field of medicine and his contribution to academia and the community. It is intended to harness the resources, expertise, and knowledge in the area of health in general and medicine in particular.


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