Health Minister John Boyce has underscored the value of the evidence-based approach in formulating policy and designing programmes to stem rising levels of non-communicable diseases in Barbados and the rest of the region.

He noted that for too long there has been concern about the lack of adequate data and information to guide financial, human resource and social policies.

In response, the Ministry of Health has been ???quite aggressive??? in supporting research and surveillance, allocating 0.1 per cent of the health care budget to strengthening research capability and capacities, in accordance with the international best practice.

Minister Boyce was speaking this morning at the opening of a research capacity building workshop on Improving Chronic Disease in the Caribbean through Evidence-based Behavioural and Social Interventions.

The workshop, which is taking place at the Hilton Barbados Resort, is being sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and has attracted health care professionals from eight Caribbean countries.

He told the gathering that one way in which the Ministry was building its research capacity was by conducting risk factor surveys every five years to get a reliable picture of the contribution of smoking, diet, physical activity and alcohol to the NCD profile of Barbadians.

In addition, he said that through the recently launched MedData, a health information system being implemented throughout the polyclinic system and at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, there would now be ???seamless movement of patient information over a secure platform??? which would allow for enhanced decision-making.

Mr. Boyce praised the research work being done by the Barbados National Registry (BNR), established in 2007 as a national surveillance system for stroke, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

He noted that the registry, a strategic partnership between the Chronic Disease Research Centre of the University of the West Indies and the Ministry of Health, had demonstrated its value to the way health services were delivered.

???The BNR has been a catalyst for strengthening the management of stroke through the establishment of a Stroke Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in 2013. There has also been scaled-up capacity for the management of acute myocardial infarction with an increase in acute care bed capacity in the Intensive Care Unit,??? he disclosed.

Additionally, the Health Minister said, the BNR had helped Government to improve death certification processes through the training of doctors in the public and private sectors as well as provided multiple continuing medical education training activities for health care professionals.

Mr. Boyce stressed Government???s commitment to providing the best possible healthcare to the population, working with partners in non-governmental organisations and the private sector.

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