Call for more specialist doctors
PRIME MINISTER Freundel Stuart thinks the time has come for Barbados to offer more specialist medical programmes in areas of deficit such as cardiology and nephrology.
Stuart made that call on the opening night of the UWI?Medical Alumni Association’s 10th International Medical Conference at Accra Beach Hotel and Spa on Tuesday.
He said this was vital judging from the continued demand for medical aid to send patients abroad.
“This is not only to meet Barbados’ needs but also those of our Caribbean neighbours, who for several years have looked to the QEH to assist in the provision of specialist care,” he added.
Before a packed audience that included Acting Minister of Health Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo and Professors Mickey Walrond, Nigel Harris and Henry Fraser, Stuart also said that it was generally acknowledged that the wellness of Caribbean people was in part a credit to the many graduates of the University of the West Indies “who have contributed to the shaping of our health care system over the years”.
Stuart noted that UWI now had more than 40 000 students across its three campuses, with 6 000 graduating every year.
Acknowledging that the brain drain had affected all countries in the Caribbean, he said thousands of medical students had graduated from the campuses of the UWI over the years, but many of those who emigrated in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s for postgraduate specialty training had never returned to the Caribbean.
The Prime Minister said he was pleased that the development of the postgraduate programmes at the UWI had helped to keep more physicians in CARICOM.
“Our governments are now better positioned and can now reap the rewards of the massive expenditure on the training of doctors and at the same time build our skill mix in the health sector. But, of course, this has a cost attached to it,” he said.
Stuart also said that Government had recognised the significance of continuing medical education. His statement comes against the backdrop of the first reading of the Medical Profession Bill in Parliament on Tuesday.
“UWI has been instrumental in providing continuing medical education. It is the medium through which health care providers become familiar with up to date treatment protocols. As a result, health professionals are able to provide better quality care to their patients.
“This legislation is intended to ensure, inter alia, that continuing education is a sine qua non for reregistration of medical practitioners in statutorily prescribed circumstances.
“Continuing medical education will therefore enable our medical practitioners to be up to date on the latest techniques in medicine and encourage evidence-based practices,” he said.
On this night, there were awards for Professor Fraser and Dr Clive Gibbons. Scholar/historian and public orator Fraser was the Continuing Medical Education (CME) Awardee Of The Year while Gibbons took the Dean’s Award For Outstanding Teaching Over 30 Years.
Dr Martha Ramirez-Torres, from Tortola in the Virgin Islands, was the biggest winner of the night. She captured the coveted Arnott Cato Foundation Medical Student Of The Year prize after having the best overall performance in the final MBBS examination at the Cave Hill Campus.
Ramirez-Torres also captured the Lionel Stuart Prize For The Best Overall Performance In Surgery.
Dr Uma Gaur, who hails from New Delhi, India, but is now resident here, won the Dean’s Appreciation Award for her contribution to the new Phase 1 programme;
Dr Shabier St John, 25, won the Merck Sharpe And Dohme Prize for the highest mark in the final medicine examination; Dr Katrina Best claimed the Harley Moseley Prize for the best candidate in anaesthesia clerkship, and Dr Basil Thorpe took the Barbados Association of Psychiatrists’ Prize.