Over 25 per cent of cardiovascular events or heart attacks in Barbados lead to death. This is way above the global figure of five per cent.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Wellness with responsibility for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), Dr. Sonia Browne, said the hospital was working to bring the national mortality rate down to the global average.
She was speaking during a donation of items to the QEH by the Barbados Canada Foundation, valued at $144,677.88. The Foundation presented the hospital with Pri-Med Level 3 ASTM Masks – 2,304 boxes containing 1,152,000 face masks, five electrocardiogram (ECG) machines, and five ECG carts.
ECGs are used in the Accident and Emergency Department and on the hospital wards to assess “what is happening immediately in terms of a person’s heart rhythm and heart pace”. The equipment will aid in the National Cardiology Programme.
Dr. Browne explained that the Ambulance Service had benefitted from training and equipment. She pointed out the aim was to educate the public on the process they should follow if they or someone they know are experiencing a cardiac episode.
“That is one of the plans we have so that you know what symptoms to look for, who to call, and to trust the system when you do call. The ambulance service will get to you and get to the hospital on time where you can seek the treatment. So, this is what we’re looking at now, and in the future, looking to decrease the mortality of patients having heart attacks.
“But that also leads on to my pet, which is the non-communicable diseases (NCDs). We all know that Barbados is a bit out of control with respect to the NCDs. We can’t blame everything on COVID, but COVID precipitated a lot of the increase in the incidence of NCDs here. So, with the advent of increase in diabetes mellitus, as well as hypertension, the risk of heart attacks and strokes, obviously, have increased over the last two years, but has been increasing steadily before then. There are players on board; the researchers on board with the Chronic Disease Research Centre (CDRC), where we can get the data that we need to effect change,” she stated.
The Minister of State thanked the Barbados Canada Foundation for their generous donation, noting that she looked forward to more “philanthropic efforts” from the diaspora.
Director of Engineering Services at the QEH, Paula Agbowu, said the hospital was looking at doing a five-year recapitalisation project, where the equipment requirements of the QEH would be assessed.
“[This will be] based on the equipment needs that we currently have and the new equipment that we would like to purchase. We are looking in the region of $110 million over the next five years. What we need to do is to have consistent and constant injection of monies into our capital works programme, so we can continue to keep this entity functioning and as modern and equipped as we possibly can,” she said, adding that she encouraged entities like the Barbados Canada Foundation to donate to the hospital to help with its recapitalisation programme.
Vice Chairman of the Barbados Canada Foundation, Sylvester Hunte, implored Barbadians in the diaspora to either work with the Foundation or contribute whatever they could to assist the QEH.
“We could really make a significant impact on the hospital’s ability to look after the health care needs of our friends and relatives who live on this island and of ourselves when we travel because my wife and I are here in Barbados. If we have a health care event, guests will be lined up right here at the QEH.
“So, it’s not like we’re giving away money to some unknown entity; we’re helping ourselves. I feel very strongly about giving back. I think it’s important to do so because none of us, whatever station we reach in life, we didn’t do it on our own. It’s through collective effort,” he emphasised.