The Pan-American Health Organization Director Dr Carissa Etienne believes that Barbados should be a centre for sub-regional health care owing to the small sizes of economies of Eastern Caribbean territories and medical expertise available here.
Following her delivery of the 43rd Sir Winston Scott Memorial Lecture the Dominican second-term Director of the United Nations hemispheric organization responded to a question on sharing medical resources between her island and Barbados saying that this island is best-suited to be the designated home of specialized medical care for the surrounding states.
“Barbados has a high concentration of health specialists and it could be a hub for many of the Eastern Caribbean islands particularly those that surround Barbados,” Dr Etienne said at the Frank Collymore Hall last night.
Prior to taking up her post at the helm of PAHO Dr Etienne served as an Assistant Director for Health Systems and Services for the World Health Organization (WHO) and had co-directed the World Health Report 2010 Health System Financing: the path to Universal Coverage.
During her feature address last night she emphazised the need to curtail wastage in the health services which are as a result of mismanagement and duplication. There would be risk of much duplication and wastage, she said, if small Caribbean states went about their total health care individually.
“One of the things that governments also have to take a note of is how do we reduce the inefficiencies because 20 to 40 per cent of the investments in health are wasted,” she said.
On the idea of Barbados being an Eastern Caribbean medical hub Dr Etienne said this is a question of shared resources and shared services. “It has been recognized for a very long time within the Caribbean, particularly within the Eastern Caribbean, that it is not sustainable that every island develops all of the specialties that it will require to deliver care to its population.”
According to her the concept was not new. “For a long time our governments have been studying – in 1995 there was a huge study – how do we establish centres of excellence where each country develops a certain level of specialization, and how do we devise the financial mechanisms that would make it easy patients to access those services,” she added.