??
Minister of Health, Donville Inniss??

Government has placed priority on developing an equitable, efficient and accessible health care system that contributes to the national development of our country.??

This was stressed by Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, as he addressed the Barbados Nurses Association (BNA) seminar to mark International Nurses Day on May

12, under the theme Closing the Gap: Increasing Access and Equity at Southern Palms Hotel, St. Lawrence Gap, Christ Church.

He said: "… Barbados is in the process of completing a National Quality Council Bill which will standardise the delivery of safe, efficient and effective care across all sectors.?? The main purpose of quality improvement is to build an environment in which everyone in health care recognises his or her role in the delivery of quality care and is prepared to take responsibility for making positive changes."

One element of continuous quality improvement, the Health Minister added, was data-driven analysis. He said: "We are confronted with a high incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases which has profound implications for the planning and execution of our health strategies. ??In February of this year, the Barbados National Registry (BNR) for Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases presented its annual report to staff in the Ministry of Health. The information provided will be instrumental in the provision of information about cardiovascular diseases. This data will allow us to evaluate the disease burden and guide policy responses and programmes.

While commending nurses for their "significant contribution to the sustainability of

our health system", Mr. Inniss noted, however, that registered nurses had professional obligations to maintain their competencies in order to ensure the safety of their patients.?? He told them that the strategy encouraged by the Ministry was continuous education at all levels of the profession. And, the Health Minister indicated that plans were in train to establish a BSc. Programme at the Barbados Community College and that the Nurses Bill, Rules and Regulations 2008, already reflected changes made to upgrade the regulation of the nursing profession.??

"Continuing education is now a key element for re-registration.?? This is a proactive measure to ensure that the integrity and quality of the nursing profession is maintained," Mr. Inniss stressed.

With reference to the BNA theme, he Inniss said, equity required fair treatment of all individuals and groups regardless of their ethnicity, gender, physical or mental ability, residence, employment status, religion or culture.?? And, it was explained that health care must be accessible to the entire population.??

He remarked: "To facilitate access, information on the range and availability of services should be provided so that individuals can make informed choices about their care.?? Accessibility also requires that services provided are sensitive to an individual’s cultural, physical or mental capacity and social needs."

The need to achieve both access and equity, the Health Minister maintained, lay at the heart of the Millennium Development Goals, agreed by 192 member states in 2001.

jgill@barbados.gov.bb

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