A representative of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) is warning that with the new and emerging health challenges facing the region, there is need for different skillsets among health care practitioners.
Addressing the opening of a sub-regional workshop at the Accra Beach Hotel this morning, PAHO’s representative to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Godfrey Xuereb highlighted the growing prevalence of non communicable diseases (NCDs), while stressing that a new calibre of health workers was needed to not only deal with these diseases, but also the complications which arise from persons who were now living longer with NCDs.
“As Barbados moves past its 50th anniversary of independence, we find that the health profile of the island and in that respect, the Caribbean, has dramatically changed. NCDs are now the leading cause of disease burden and with this has come a need for a new cadre of health workers that were not known or required when Barbados was seeking independence,” Xuereb explained.
“We are now talking about death and disabilities from NCDs but as we improve our health system, we now have people living longer with these chronic diseases. Consequently, the probability of developing disabilities from NCDs increases. Therefore, we need a new cadre of workers to not only deal with the diseases, but also the disabilities that they contribute to,” he told participants in the workshop on the Caribbean Roadmap on Human Resources for Universal Health 2018-2022.
Xuereb also suggested that the education sector, as well as the labour market, needed to respond to the changing health needs.
“Fifty years ago no one would have heard of a dialysis perfusionist, radio imaging technician, occupational therapists and renal dietician. These are but a few of the human resource diversities that we need to think about. How many of our students at this point in time know about these opportunities
that we have? How many of these professions do you see advertised in the media? We need to not only diversify our cadre of health professionals, but we also need to publicize these professions,” the PAHO official said, adding, that same type of response was required to meet the needs of Barbados’s aging population.
“We now have an aging population which also creates the need for another cadre of health professionals such as persons who specialize in dementia nursing and other specialists that deal with the whole issue of aging. To have these professionals available we need not only the health sector, but also the sectors dealing with education, information technology and labour to be on board,” he stressed.