Caribbean Programme Coordinator with the PAHO-CPC office, Dr. Bernadette Theodore-Gandi;??Principal Adviser on Health Inequalities for the Department of Health for England, Maggie Davies and Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, listen attentively during??the??Meeting on "Building Health Leadership for the CARICOM Region",?? hosted by the Pan-American Health Organisation.

Health leaders across the CARICOM region have been urged to take proactive and innovative steps towards achieving developmental goals, amid challenging economic times.

This plea came today from Barbados’ Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, as he addressed regional delegates meeting here on "Building Health Leadership for the CARICOM Region", at the headquarters of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), at Dayrells Road.

Mr. Inniss said: "Our dynamic world scene demands that we are always equipped with the tools to accomplish our goals, despite our situations. The health system of the 21st century is confronting new challenges to achieve national and international health goals in an increasingly global marketplace.

"An increase in our disease burden and limited resources in a challenging economy, call for health leaders to take proactive and innovative initiatives to achieve our developmental goals."

The Minister listed some of the demands on the health system and the economy as including "the right to healthcare, the introduction of new technologies, the opening of our borders to trade, the growing migration of populations and the expansion of regional and sub-regional integration processes."

He stressed: "This calls for us as health leaders to act across sectors to formulate and implement actions to achieve balance between economic growth and social development. Consideration must also be given to our bilateral, sub-regional, regional and global treaties and agreements."

Referring to our local situation, Mr. Inniss told delegates that Barbados was confronted by challenges that required strong public health leadership, including the rise in the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital between member countries.

And, he declared: "The dynamics of this phenomenon give rise to the need to ensure equity in access and quality of services, the greatest value for our health dollar, the development of coordinated social financing mechanisms and the need to secure competitive human capital."

It was also pointed out that Barbados was addressing these issues through partnerships with the PAHO, the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Caribbean Health Leadership Institute and Alumni Network to develop its leadership capacity.

Mr. Inniss explained: "The Diploma and Masters in Health Services Management, Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Public Health at the UWI, Leadership for change for Nurses, and Leaders in International Health Programme offered through PAHO, all set the foundation for Barbados to develop a strong cadre of professionals to lead our health sector. This will not be an overnight or short term process but can be achievable through forums such as this."

The two-day workshop will see delegates sharing information and experiences on ongoing work in health leadership development and presenting findings from the assessment of such leadership.

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