Communication between the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the general public about the COVID-19 pandemic is set to get a much-needed boost with the establishment of a dedicated Health Communications Team.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced, this evening, that from as early as next week, the four-member team is expected to become operational under the leadership of Ambassador Elizabeth Thompson, who is set to return to Barbados over the weekend.
The Prime Minister made this announcement during an address to the nation, accompanied by Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, and Chairman of the Cabinet Subcommittee on COVID-19, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott.
“I was recalling [her] to work from home in Bridgetown, as an Ambassador Plenipotentiary from the end of January, and I’ve asked her to bring forward that date, immediately to this weekend.”
The Prime Minister said she selected Ambassador Thompson as a former Minister of Health, an effective communicator, and a person who suffered from COVID, to lead that process of communications.
She added that Ambassador Thompson was also instrumental in the early years of the fight with HIV/AIDS, and for provisions being made for pregnant women to receive AZT to reduce mother-to-child transmission.
Acknowledging that better can be done to communicate with the public on the issues being faced during the pandemic, Ms. Mottley stated that health communications was a dedicated field, and it was on that premise that the team was established.
President of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners, Dr. Linda Williams, has also accepted the offer to be a member of the team.
Ms. Mottley said Dr. Williams is not only a doctor, but also an epidemiologist. “I have expressed our regret that the level of communications has not been as good as it should be, and I’ve agreed with Dr. Williams that we can do better. And to that extent, I have asked her to serve on this and she has willingly agreed to be a part of this team,” she said.
The third member of the team is former editor of the Nation Publishing, Tyson Henry, who is presently working in Public Affairs. He will assist in the generation of content and ensuring that it reaches all quarters within the Barbadian society in short order.
However, the Prime Minister said the fourth person identified to be a member of the team was a specialist at the Ministry of Health and Wellness “for years”. However, she did not disclose a name as the individual was not yet consulted.
“My friends, we are juggling a lot, and therefore I’m not going to fool you. The notion that I can come here every day, or even Minister Walcott, or Minister Bostic is going to be difficult …. That Health Communications Team is critical while we at the same time keep the nuts and bolts going, and do what we have to keep Barbadians safe and to keep our country safe,” the Prime Minister stated.
Ambassador Thompson will be replaced by Ambassador Francois Jackman, who will leave the Embassy in Beijing to take up the post of Permanent Representative to the United Nations.