Although the COVID-19 variant Omicron has proven not to have the same “shadow of death” as its predecessors, the first meeting that will be convened by a new Barbados Government will be one on health.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley said both the pandemic, as well as the problems posed by Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) would be a priority. She was speaking at State House (formerly Government House) on Wednesday during the swearing in of the new Government.
At that meeting will be new Minister of Health and Wellness, Ian Gooding-Edghill; Dr Sonia Browne, Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Wellness with responsibility for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and non-communicable diseases; The Most Honourable Dr Jerome Walcott, senior minister with responsibility for Social and Environmental Policy and technical officials in the ministries.
Mottley said going forward, Government would have to “think outside of the box” on a number of issues.
She said the expectation was that the number of people contracting COVID-19 would rise both globally and locally.
“Against that backdrop, I ask each and every Barbadian to continue to exercise personal responsibility and restraint and to recognise that how and what you do is always within your powers,” Mottley said.
Up to January 25 in Barbados, 277 deaths have been attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic from 41 355 confirmed cases.
“From the very beginning we have said that we can think and we can reason. And it was clear to us from the outset that Omicron was not going to be of the same level of seriousness as Delta and that simply there was not the shadow of death that Delta and others had portrayed with Omicron, and to that extent, we will respond appropriate to the risk, as we always do.”
Dr Sonia Browne, Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Wellness (right) seated next to Sandra Husbands, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Business Development. (Picture by Jameel Springer)
The Prime Minister said chronic NCDs remain one of the “greatest threats to the stability” of Barbados and it is for this reason Browne was appointed.
“Our hospital continues to be filled with persons, who, if we can get them to take greater control of their own personal health will allow us to be able to see a significant reduction in the numbers of persons who are then required for critical treatment and care in our system,” Mottley said.
Additionally, greater attention will be paid to the living conditions of people with disabilities and MP for St James North, Edmund Hinkson, will chair a commission which will be convened for this purpose. The appointment of Senator Andwele Boyce will also serve to bring these issues to the front burner. Mottley said one in every five people in Barbados are living with a disability.
Former Minister of Health, the Most Honourable Jeffrey Bostic, retired from elective politics on January 18. (SAT)