Barbados is getting a new state-of-the-art National Reference Laboratory.
The facility to be constructed at Enmore #2, Martindales Road, St Michael, across the street from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, should be ready in another 16 months.
Today, Minister of Health John Boyce and United States Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Dr Larry Palmer signed a Memorandum of Understanding related to the project. They also participated in a ground breaking ceremony signaling the start of the project.
Boyce told those present, including Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Tennyson Springer and Chief Medical Officer Dr Joy St John, that as a result of the construction of the $9 million lab, the Public Health, Leptospira and Ladymeade Reference Unit Laboratories would be amalgamated.
Boyce said construction of the facility and the realignment of the management structure were testimony to Government’s vision for laboratory services in Barbados. He also stressed the importance of such services in a country which depends heavily on tourism.
“In today’s world of the global movement of people and commodities and where events evolve rapidly, whether it is SARS, H1N1, Dengue Fever, Chikungunya or Ebola, countries must possess the capacity to keep their people safe from disease and other threats to life,” he said.
“Possession of such capability provides the foundation for a better quality of life, enabling societies to achieve their goals and enabling people to contribute to national development. As a country which is dependent on tourism as a key driver of economic development, we are ever mindful of the need to place a high value on safety and to maintain the highest standards in the environment and health care.”
The minister said with the construction of the new state-of-the-art laboratory, Barbados would not only benefit from economies of scale with respect to laboratory services, but would also have the capacity to provide these services to other Caribbean countries.
In his brief remarks, Palmer said the United States was proud to be partnering with Barbados in the project which would have a regional focus.