Physician Dr Raymond Massay has criticized the increase in the number of offshore medical schools in Barbados, suggesting it was a betrayal of the medical profession here by the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration.
Speaking at the oath taking ceremony for the University of the West Indies (UWI) graduating medical class of 2017 at Mahogany Ridge, St Thomas, Dr Massay said the foreign schools had been welcomed here through the proverbial “30 pieces of silver”.
Parliament last year approved the Education in Medicine and other Health Professions Bill, paving the way for more offshore medical schools to join the one already established here.
Speaking on behalf of the UWI Medical Alumni Association, Dr Massay recalled that the association was born in 1984 out of a need to stave off the inflow of offshore medical schools into Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean.
However, the cardiologist blamed the ruling DLP for creating a view of offshore medical schools as an “economic panacea” and for facilitating what he deemed to be a backward medical shift.
“In the beginning of the association times were different. The party in Opposition [the Barbados Labour Party] was the party in power, and the party in power [the DLP] was the party in Opposition,” he said, adding, “at that time the idea of the offshore medical schools as an economic panacea was definitely not on.
“The idea of selling your sovereignty for 30 pieces of silver then was also an anathema to us young socialists,” Dr Massay said, adding: “My, how things have changed!”
He said that at the time of the association’s formation “the express challenge was to take on the presence of the offshore medical schools in the West Indies because they were casting a negative shadow on the University of the West Indies”.
The prominent doctor was supported in his comments by retired Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at UWI, Cave Hill Sir Henry Fraser, who described the offshore universities as business entities of convenience.
Sir Henry told the graduating class: “Today’s world is seduced by glamorous claims of many kinds of alternative practices, and also by the claims of business oriented medical schools, offshore schools, otherwise known as the for-profit schools, providing a special kind of medical education for those who don’t make it into the North American schools, or for Middle-Eastern students using it as a stepping stone into the US of A.
“Their reason for existing is business first because the demand exists and medicine is the business of their business.”
He warned, “our great University of the West Indies and the standards we set and we have all received, tailored to the needs of our Caribbean people, are under constant threat by a new society”.