Prime Minister Mottley: Barbados A Leader In Public Health

Barbados has proven it is a leader in public health by producing some of the world’s best in the field, says Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley.

Speaking at the official ceremony to recognise the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory as a World Health Organization’s (WHO) National Influenza Centre on Monday, Ms. Mottley said the island should want to assert itself as a global public health leader, having produced the likes of stalwarts such as Sir Kenneth Standard, Sir Kenneth Stuart, and Sir George Alleyne, a former head of the Pan American Health Organization.

She said their names were synonymous with excellence in public health improvement in the Caribbean and the Americas over the last century.

Prime Minister Mottley pointed out that the laboratory’s designation as a National Influenza Centre was a measure of “immense pride”.

She noted that while there were two other regional entities that would be conducting the same work as Best-dos Santos – the Caribbean Public Health Agency and the Virology Laboratory at The University of the West Indies, neither of them was doing it at a national level.

“I want to thank all involved in this process, the staff [at Best-dos Santos], the Ministry of Health, who would’ve allowed this country to benefit from this most important designation as a national influenza centre…. To have a national lab so designated is a measure of immense pride for us. Barbados has made big investments over the years in our human capacity, in our skills, in those willing to do science at The University of the West Indies and elsewhere.

“Those persons with degrees without opportunity and capacity will come to nought. And, therefore, the ability to have continuity of policy, especially in the social sectors and economic sectors, across governments, change in governments, is a critical aspect of the political stability of our nation.  This [achievement] goes back across three governments now… and we have shown it is possible to be able to reach global excellence, and to have this designation by the World Health Organization says to the rest of the world that this lab has reached these standards and is capable of being trusted,” Ms. Mottley stated.

She said it was not a question of ‘if’ the next pandemic will happen but ‘when’, adding that pandemics were usually a cycle of panic and neglect. “It is up to us as a Government to ensure that panic and neglect is removed from our experience in preparation for the next pandemic,” the Prime Minister asserted.

She said investment in the Barbados Living Laboratory Project opened up Barbados to producing serious research instead of staying on the confines of monitoring and diagnosis.

Ms. Mottley added that Government was also investing in creating the regulatory framework needed for the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.  She cited Carlisle Labs, stating that institution could now undertake significantly more because of Government’s investment.

The Prime Minister said there were plans to meet with other pharmaceutical producers this week, to continue efforts to build out the framework for that industry.

“Last year, we launched the Barbados White Book, which will lead to the level of legislative reform necessary, as well as the investment and regulatory framework necessary to become involved in serious research,” Ms. Mottley stated.