Minister of Health John Boyce today shot down claims by opposition Shadow Minister of Health Dr Maria Agard that the reduction in health care expenditure had led to a shortage of available pharmaceuticals to the sacrifice of the quality of health care provided to Barbadians.
Boyce was resolute that no such thing had occurred. Furthermore, he said, his Government continued to seek efficiency in the Drug Service in Barbados and that was not to the detriment of the provision of quality drugs.
He also warned that the atmosphere of confidence that Barbadians had in the health sector must not be eroded by, what he called, the propagation of stories by the Opposition, which they could not support.
While admitting that there may be a shortage “from time to time of one drug or the other”, he said a very careful selection of the regime of available drugs was done to ensure that patients had a choice.
“So a medical practitioner prescribing treatment for a patient does not depend on one drug alone. We would not be a sensible society if we were structured like that; so they have a choice of drugs . . . .
“The honourable member for Christ Church West will get up and call out all kinds of names because she knows I don’t know any . . . . We are not saying we are perfect but we certainly believe that Barbadians can be very proud of the work that is being done in the health service. I want to thank the members of the Drug Formulary who manage the availability of pharmaceutical and thank God I am not aware of any serious outcry,” he said.
“I want to I leave the question of supply for the provision of drugs in Barbados to the Drug Formulary committee, we at the ministry look at the policy in respect to the provision of drugs and we continue to tweak the system to ensure that Barbadians are getting the best quality drug at the best prices because that is the important factor.
“The Opposition is going to talk about cuts . . . . I want to look at it as a reduction in costs to the service. So when we look at the reduction in cost to the service, for instance the supply of drugs by two million dollars it is not to cut the quality of drugs provided or the quantity, it is to seek to utilize facilities and agencies like the Pan-American Health Organisation more, to make sure that we get the best prices for our drugs and I think that the providers of pharmaceuticals in Barbados are aware of my thinking in this regard and they continue to work with us,” Boyce added.
Boyce also noted that Barbados was now signed on to a cooperation agreement with PEPFAR of United States for the funding of consolidated laboratories. This would see the island’s three laboratories merged and be located at Enmore in Collymore Rock.
This he stressed would allow Barbados to stay on the cutting edge of diagnosis and record keeping in our health system. Construction is expected to begin by August this year.