Minister of Health, Dr. David Estwick

Improved information management systems throughout the Ministry of Health will soon allow for better communication with other health care related departments and institutions such as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).

Minister of Health, Dr. David Estwick told this to participants today as he addressed the Eighth Annual Professor E.R. Walrond Scientific Symposium held  in the auditorium of the QEH.

The Minister said, “It is envisioned that when the system is fully implemented it will be possible for health care practitioners to have online access to the results of their clients’ diagnostic tests. This could aid greatly in their capacity to make critical treatment decisions in a shorter time span.”

 “Public health managers will also be able to gather relevant surveillance data from various institutions in a timelier manner. This is a vital requirement in this age of new and re-emerging diseases of significance to public health.”

The improved health information system is part of a wider Barbados Health Sector Reform Programme, through which the European Development Fund is providing assistance to the Government, towards the implementation of the Barbados Strategic Plan for Health.  Other measures include mechanisms for purchasing services from the non-governmental health sub-sector and more flexible management systems for polyclinics.

Giving the rationale for the improvements, Dr. Estwick noted that there was a change in disease profile from acute to chronic diseases, an increase in road traffic accidents and violent injuries, which resulted in high demand for health care services and led to increasing cost. He said, “This situation calls for more support from Government in order to modernise the infrastructure that is necessary for the practice of medicine.

“Increasingly, there is a demand by both patients and practitioners for high technology which is growing faster than the available financial resources within the health system.”

He reminded participants that the Ministry had already established a Chronic Diseases Registry, which was being hosted by the Chronic Disease Research Centre (CDRC) of the University of the West Indies. He said, “This is a significant event because the Registry is the first of its kind in the Eastern Caribbean with only 15 to 20 well established registries of this kind in the world today.

“The Registry will document the incidence, natural history and outcomes of cases of cardiovascular disease, stroke and cancer. These are three of (the) five leading causes of mortality among adult Barbadians.”

While alluding to the expenditure on drugs, hospitalisation, productivity and family life as a result of these diseases, Minister Estwick said: “The product of the Registry will enable all of us policymakers and practitioners to more effectively plan policies and programmes based on evidence and I do hope that the data gathering process will be facilitated by the Hospital’s ethics committee.”

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