Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, briefing the media??on the National Collaborative Haiti Relief Effort.??At right are Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sen. Maxine McClean, and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Sen. Irene Sandiford-Garner.

Some 126 Barbadian health care workers have offered to be a part of this country’s medical response in Haiti.

This was revealed by Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, last Thursday, during a press briefing at Government Headquarters on the National Collaborative Haiti Relief Effort.

The Health Minister noted that those persons who pledged their services included emergency medical technicians, general practitioners, emergency practitioners, pharmacists, surgeons, psychologists, psychiatrists and nurses. He stressed, however, that Barbados would not necessarily send 126 persons to Haiti.

"All of us have to accept that our health care system has its challenges as it is right now, and we will not be so irresponsible as to deplete our challenged health care system in a quest to assist others.

"We are very committed to the cause in Haiti, but you have my assurance that our response from a health care perspective will not pose any further challenges to our heath care system here," Mr. Inniss insisted.

He further stated that the deployment of individuals from any CARICOM island would be done on a rotational basis, so that a large number of individuals would not be sent at any one time. ????

The Health Minister also revealed that at the end of January, CARICOM’s medical team had dealt with 700 Haitians, including major and minor surgeries, skin tractions or fractures, and generally, the stabilisation of individuals.

"Our health team also delivered 23 babies, immunised 160 persons, and managed about 49 intensive care cases, [while] the Jamaica Defence Force medical team has seen approximately 332 patients so far," Mr. Inniss reported.

Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, acknowledged that a request had been made by the Charge d’Affaires of the United States Embassy, for Barbados to undertake the care of some Haitians at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. She noted, however, that unfortunately, the request could not be facilitated at this time.?? ??

Senator McClean explained that persons with orthopaedic, spinal, head injuries, amputee cases, etc., along with the necessary relatives to support those persons, would have to be accommodated.??

She added: "Most importantly, is a request that the country absorbs medical costs and takes full responsibility for treatment. Barbados is currently struggling to bring our health system back to the desired level of capacity and service delivery. Therefore, I do not anticipate that such a request can be honoured, as articulated, because we have first and foremost to ensure that we can meet the demands. We are not in a position to provide that support because we are not talking about short-term, minor situations."

Minister McClean reiterated that Barbados’ commitment was to participate in Haiti in the short-term by providing medical support. "I think that’s the most efficient and effective use of our resources. In that way, we can deal with hundreds of patients…?? Our resources are best used where we can have maximum effect," she opined.??

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