Argentina’s Ambassador, Gustavo Martinez Pandiani (second from right) chatting with from left: PAHO/WHO Representative, Dr. Godfrey Xeureb; Ambassador Gail Mathurin of the CARICOM Secretariat; Jessie Schutt-Aine of PAHO; Minister of Health and Wellness Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic; and Songee Beckles, Laboratory Director, Best-dos Santos Laboratory. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

Barbados is among 14 CARICOM countries participating in a project aimed at strengthening the region’s capacity to detect, analyze and monitor antimicrobial resistance.

Speaking at the launch of the project last Friday, Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic, said that antimicrobial resistance could be likened to “a burning fuse connected to a bomb waiting to explode”.

He noted that the world had become so dependent on antibiotics to cover everything from surgery to childbirth, as well as animal husbandry and food production, that with increasing antimicrobial resistance, countries now faced a number of threats.

He outlined some of these as the return to unsafe childbirth, increased illness and death with surgical procedures, re-emerging diseases such as tuberculosis, threats to food security and food safety, as well as economic losses to countries and developmental regression.

The Government Minister disclosed that the project, which is a collaboration between CARICOM, the Government of the Republic of Argentina and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), would create systems for the sharing of data and opportunities for research.

This, he said, would add to the body of knowledge on antimicrobial resistance in lesser resourced countries such as Barbados.  He commended the Republic of Argentina for its willingness to share technical expertise, and PAHO for facilitating the South-South cooperation.

Noting the involvement of the Best dos Santos Public Health Laboratory in the project, he acknowledged the dedicated management team and staff for their excellent service to the people of Barbados and their Caribbean neighbours.

Lt. Col. Bostic promised that government would provide all the resources necessary to ensure that the laboratory became fully accredited internationally, so that it would be able to do a lot more testing and become the hub for the Eastern Caribbean.

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