Minister of Health and Wellness, Ian Gooding-Edghill and Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, in discussion during their meeting at Kensington Oval while officials look on. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Barbados’ priority areas in the health care sector were discussed on Thursday when Minister of Health and Wellness, Ian Gooding-Edghill, met with Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, at Kensington Oval.

Minister Gooding-Edghill, after congratulating Dr. Tedros for receiving the Honorary Freedom of Barbados Award, and expressing Barbados’ gratitude for the assistance provided by the WHO before and during the pandemic, identified three areas for which the island requires assistance. 

Those areas are: the need for a behaviour risk factor survey, which would help to create current data to inform public health policy, especially pertaining to non-communicable diseases (NCDs); the enhancement of the public health laboratory to perform genomic sequencing, which would be ideal to detect and monitor current and new COVID-19 variants, and boosting the resilience of the health care sector to respond to new and emerging public health threats, including pandemics and climate change.

The Director General congratulated Barbados for the increase in the sugar sweetened beverage tax from 10 to 20 per cent, and encouraged the country to pursue other initiatives to tackle NCDs. He pledged that WHO would soon relaunch a fight against those diseases. 

Dr. Tedros also noted that technical assistance and financial support was critical to assisting Barbados in addressing the areas of concern.

Those present at the meeting included Minister of State in the Ministry, Dr. Sonia Browne; Permanent Secretary, The Most Honourable Janet Phillips; Chief Medical Officer, The Most Honourable Dr. Kenneth George; Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anton Best, and United Nations Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries, Didier Trebucq.

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