Congratulations to Dr. A.P. Da Silva, current President of BAMP, the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners, and Dr. P. Adams, current Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI Cave Hill campus, both Family Physicians, both BAMP members, who now hold esteemed positions within Barbados' medical organizations.
These positions also have the potential to raise the profile of family medicine, a profession that, in spite of our indigenous University of the West Indies (UWI) establishing postgraduate training in the Caribbean for more than three decades, have not been able to attract any career pathways within our public health services here in Barbados.
Speeches by our health decision makers increasingly point to the need for improved primary care, in particular to effectively tackle the epidemic of the non-communicable chronic diseases (ncds), to reduce the load on our lone tertiary institution the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), and to reduce the exponential rise in demand that health care makes on our Ministry of Finance, especially for high-cost high-technology tertiary care. However, these speeches are not matched by actual efforts to improve our primary care services. And it is not a state secret that career opportunities for tertiary care specialties are significantly limited here.
Recent research in the USA, our rich neighbors to the north, shows that In areas of the country where there are more primary care providers per person, death rates for cancer, heart disease, and stroke are lower and people are less likely to require hospitalization. Patients with access to a regular primary care physician have lower overall health care costs than those without one, and health outcomes improve (1).
Dr. P. Adams and Dr. A. P. Da Silva thus have the unenviable task of taking health ‘to the next level’ in Barbados, perhaps by actually convincing our health decisions makers that family physicians do indeed have a role to play. This author wishes them all the best for the future.