Minister of Health John Boyce is appealing to Chinese authorities for urgent help in the training of Barbadian nurses in the area of critical care nursing.
He made the appeal to Chinese Ambassador Wang Ke at the Chinese Embassy on Friday night, during a special farewell reception for the first delegation of the Chinese medical team and welcome of the second delegation.
Under that programme, eight Chinese nurses and doctors spent approximately six months in Barbados carrying out medical aide services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) as they also provided a level of support and training to local doctors and nurses in some specialized medical fields.
That team will depart in about a week. However, the second batch of eight nurses and doctors arrived on the island last week and will spend one year under the same programme.
Welcoming the new group and thanking the first set of medical practitioners for their contribution to the health care system here, Boyce said he wanted to see “even stronger bonds” between the Chinese team and that of the QEH.
Coming out of the first staging of the programme two local doctors will receive training in a hospital in China on scholarship thanks to a donation from one of the team members.
“I hope that can be expanded and that exchange can be developed upon,” Boyce told the gathering that included Chinese Ambassador to Barbados Wang Ke, QEH officials, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
“I, however, believe this is a challenge I am going to put out to my Ambassador friend [Wang Ke] that we need, at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, some urgent support in critical care nursing and I believe this would be an arrangement which we would look forward to settling with you – 15 or 25 nurses who will sit with us and help us train . . . some of our young nurses in some of the very important specialities which are associated with health care today,” said Boyce.
He pointed out that there have been major changes in health care delivery over the years and therefore specialists in almost every area of medicine were necessary.
“So I believe Ambassador, that this is an area of cooperation which we can look at, not on a permanent basis to put Barbadians out of opportunities but as a way of even training more of our nurses and doctors in some of the many specialties right here on the ground in Barbados and using our facilities as they stand,” he explained, adding that “even as we plan for a new facility we have to ensure that the one that we have is operating perfectly and at its best capabilities”.
An emotional Wang Ke, who spoke ahead of Boyce, said she was reluctant to say goodbye to the first delegation.
“On the other hand we are glad to warmly welcome the doctors and nurses of the second delegation of China medical team,” she said.
She said over the last six months, the first team performed 76 surgeries, treated 500 outpatients and carried out hundreds of various operations and laboratory work, of which she was very proud.
However, perhaps one of the most “touching” stories was that of the team leader Consultant Surgeon Hepatobiliary Surgery doctor Shiqiao Luo, who performed the first of its kind in Barbados liver tumor surgery.
After being awarded US$5,000 Dr Luo donated it to the QEH to help two local doctors to get training in a hospital in China next year.
An emotional Dr Luo, who has already accepted an invitation by the QEH to “come regularly in the coming years” to carry out surgeries here, described his experience of the programme as “a blind date that turned out to be a sweet relationship”.