The provision of primary health care, through the polyclinic system, is an important service to Barbadians.

This was stressed by Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, recently, as he addressed the Dinner and Awards ceremony in celebration of the Edgar Cochrane Polyclinic???s 25th anniversary, at the PomMarine Hotel, Hastings, Christ Church.

Mr. Inniss acknowledged that this type of care, provided by polyclinics, was of ???tremendous importance???, not only because it relieved the burden on our secondary and tertiary institutions, but also ensured ???that the health needs of our communities are adequately and efficiently met.???

He explained: ???Over the years, the polyclinic system in Barbados has evolved from mere health centres providing basic curative and preventative services. Today, we have a more comprehensive, multi-purpose health care system which provides a wide range of services that cater to the health needs of the communities in which they are located.???

Pointing out that technological and medical advancement had impacted on the improvement in the quality of life and life expectancy, he said: ???Evidence has shown that people are living longer as a result of these developments and advancements. Developments in technology have also impacted on the individual and people are well equipped in this information age to seek out the knowledge they need, to stay in tune with their health requirements.???

Mr. Inniss added: ???You therefore as health practitioners have to be prepared to respond to a clientele that is well informed about their health needs.???

It was also noted that the role of health care providers was made more complex as they sought to provide necessary care and treatment to a more demanding public.?? The Health Minister maintained: ???It is vital that the education and training of staff must remain applicable to the current health patterns.???

Staff was further reminded that a key objective of the Health Ministry was to ensure persons not only achieved longevity but enjoyed productive lives. ??And, Mr. Inniss explained: ???The programmes in the polyclinic system have been created and geared towards the control and prevention of these diseases. It is noted that at Edgar Cochrane Polyclinic like the others, the nurse goes into the communities to provide follow-up treatment. In addition, two resident doctors make monthly visits to the elderly.???

He acknowledged the polyclinic???s milestone of reaching its Silver Anniversary of service, and the contribution of the awardees.?? The Minister pointed out: ???The primary objective of Government is to ensure that our primary care system remains robust in spite of current global trends and this can only be achieved through the unwavering commitment of the staff and health care providers within the polyclinics.

???I would therefore, like to encourage you to continue to build an intimate relationship with the communities you serve.???

The Edgar Cochrane Polyclinic was opened in 1981 as the General Practice Unit, serving first as a facility for medical training. ??This Facility was jointly funded by the University of the West Indies and the Government of Barbados.?? Unlike other polyclinics, it operated as part of the University Medical Programme for training family physicians, both at the Diploma and Doctoral levels.

Today, the polyclinic caters to some 30,000 individuals, one secondary school, five primary schools, two special schools and a number of businesses in its Wildey catchment area.

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