Minister of Health, Donville Inniss (left) accepting the over $90,000 in medical equipment, comprising oxygen concentrators and feotal monitors, from Trustee Chair of the BIBA Charity, Lisl Lewis (centre). Looking on is Executive Director of Barbados International Business Association, Henderson Holmes.(C.Pitt/BGIS)

A higher level of service within the polyclinics can be expected as more equipment and training become available to staff.

This was intimated yesterday when Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, and a team of health officials met at the Edgar Cochrane Polyclinic in Wildey, St. Michael to accept over $90,000 in medical equipment from the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) charity.

Commending BIBA for its "generous contribution" that would benefit all eight polyclinics across the island, Minister Inniss said: "Your contribution will help us to deliver a higher quality service to those who come before us. The polyclinic system or the primary care sector in the Ministry of Health is invariably the first point of entry into the public health care system by most Barbadians and we continue to strive every day to improve the service.

"I know it is not easy and we [the Ministry] get licks every day… but we need to continue to stay focused and steadfast and know that the service we provide is one that will make a difference in the quality of life of Barbadians."

The donation by BIBA comprised eight foetal monitors and nine oxygen concentrators. While outlining the use of the oxygen concentrator, Mr. Inniss said they would allow for the provision of oxygen "to those who will need it but also it will reduce our dependency on the bottled oxygen which by extension, allows us to use that expenditure to take care of other parts of our health care system".

He added: "Our position is that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital will make sustainable gains if we continue to make improvements at the primary care level. The QEH is continuing to provide too many primary care services to citizens of Barbados and we need to pull that back from the QEH and into the polyclinics.

"But it can only happen if we continue to ensure that our staff are trained and retrained to deal with those challenges that come before them in the primary care sector. It will only happen if we ensure that we have the kind of equipment available within the polyclinic system that allows you doctors and nurses and other health care providers to provide the service you need to provide. It will only happen if you have the kind of physical work environment that is conducive for delivering the higher level of service that you need."

The Minister also highlighted the importance of doing this against the backdrop of reducing the cost to Government. He said: "The number of Barbadians who come before us in the primary care system merits us getting it right at this level. If we don’t get it right at the polyclinic/primary care level in terms of the preventative level of health care, [and] the early diagnosis and treatment and management of the illnesses at the primary care level, we are going to continue to be placing more and more pressure on the State to provide more and more expensive interventions at the tertiary level and all of you I believe, share this view and that is why we must continue to make improvements at the primary care level."

One of the nine oxygen concentrators (right) and eight feotal monitors (left) donated by the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) Charity to polyclinics as part of a thrust to improve health care delivery on the island.(C.Pitt/BGIS)

Noting that the Health Ministry would continue to forge similar partnerships with other non-governmental organisations, Mr. Inniss stressed: "We cannot do it alone, we really need all of the NGOs, civil society and [the] private sector to come on board and help us to improve our health care system in Barbados."

Meanwhile, Trustee Chair of BIBA Charity, Lisl Lewis, in noting that the BIBA charity was formed in March 2010, said its specific aim was to facilitate the association’s members, friends and colleagues in making donations "in a concentrated and cohesive way…to give back to the community."

She added: "Since then we have raised funds from our member firms, individual members, local companies have given of their time, energy and expertise and we have been able to make two donations now to public health care in Barbados."

Revealing that the first one was made in 2011 in the form of vital signs monitors to the QEH’s Accident & Emergency Department, Ms. Lewis noted that cost approximately $90,000.??

Echoing the sentiments of Minister Inniss, she said: "This year, we are very proud to lend this assistance to the polyclinic because the polyclinics represent the first line of defence of primary health care in Barbados."


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