BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday February 29, 2012 – Regional governments need to join together to address health care challenges.
Minister of Health, Mr. Donville Inniss made this charge during the 28th Caribbean Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) manager’s meeting in Barbados recently.
Commending the success of the team to date with collaborating research and development of vaccines, Mr. Inniss lamented that the same co-operative spirit was lacking from other areas of the Caribbean group.
He attributed this lack of a genuine partnership to a relatively weak and inadequately resourced Caricom Secretariat which was expected to provide a high-level management role.
The health minister made it clear that while intentions were noble, the structure and resources of Caricom bear little relation to the harsh realities of citizens throughout the region.
He noted that one of the challenges which continued to face public health care was the disconnect between decisions made at the regional and political levels, and the realities of small open economies.
And, he holds the view that some solutions to these issues, lie with the creation of centres of excellent which can be built in member states to cater to the needs of the region, rather than each country struggling to provide such facilities on their own.
Mr. Inniss’ suggestion is for an ultra-modern cancer centre in one island, a paediatric facility in another and an ophthalmology centre in another.
“Access to affordable and decent health care is too critical to the economic survival of this region and its people for leaders to be shouting empty rhetoric across the waters and trying to build kingdoms unto themselves. We really must do what has been done at the grass root levels for many years – build friendships and lasting relations,” he said.