The Ministry of Health and Wellness has expressed concern about the declining birth rate in Barbados over the last decade.

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George, said today that since 2007 Barbados has recorded a 15 per cent decline in births, with a drop from 3, 258 births in 2007 to 2, 346 births in 2017.

Describing the situation as “worrying”, the medical professional stated: “Declining birth rates, coupled with an ageing population, will have a significant impact on our ability to project for the future requirements of national development.”

Speaking at the opening of a conference hosted by the World Pediatric Project, in partnership with Rotary International and the Pan American Health Organization, which opened in Barbados today, Dr. George announced that the Ministry of Health and Wellness would be starting a national dialogue on the issue.

The pursuit of a national solution, he explained, would involve a multi-sectoral approach, including ministries and agencies such as the Ministries of Youth and Community Empowerment, Finance and Economic Affairs, and People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, and the National Insurance and Welfare Departments.

Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kenneth George. (FP)

The two-day conference has as its theme Improving Perinatal Care in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.

The Chief Medical Officer revealed that funds had been allocated for the implementation of a national plan of action on neonatal health in Barbados, adding that the plan would provide for strengthening and investment in antenatal care, support for safe and incident-free childbirth and quality medical care in the first four weeks of an infant’s life.

Dr. George told the audience of regional clinicians and administrators in neonatal care: “The way forward in improving perinatal and neonatal care in Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean seems to lie in improving the quality of care, which can be achieved by providing training for staff in neonatal intensive care methods.”

He said he was confident that the ideas, deliberations and recommendations which would emerge from the conference “would not only usher in a renewed understanding of this complex area of health care, but would be implemented to improve perinatal care in Barbados and across the wider Caribbean”.

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