Health Care in Barbados is currently provided by government funded and privately run facilities. The government funded facilities include nine polyclinics (primary care) located throughout the island (four in St. Michael, one in St Peter, St. Philip, Christ Church, St. George and St. John), the Psychiatric Hospital (psychiatric care) and Queen Elizabeth Hospital (secondary/ tertiary care) located in St. Michael.
Primary care is the initial interface between the patient and the health system. Secondary/ tertiary care requires more specialised skills and equipment e.g. Surgery.
Privately run facilities include general practices, specialty clinics, emergency health centres (FMH and Sandy Crest Medical Centre) and Bayview Hospital. Residents may attend a polyclinic according to their geographic location or seek care at any private facility of their choice. Unlike some countries there is no obligation to register with a doctor on arrival in Barbados or to continue care with a particular provider.
One of the advantages of this system is that there is range of readily accessible services from antenatal care (care of baby and mother before birth) to geriatrics (care of the elderly); from emergency care to rehabilitative care.
The University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Cave Hill campus is now in its 2nd year of entrants into the undergraduate preclinical medical programme -the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in conjunction with UWI has been training clinical and post graduate medical students for more than forty years. This has potential for economic and intellectual benefits for the university and the country as a whole.
Currently legislation is in the final stages of being drafted which will have an impact on the practice of medicine on the island. One of the major initiatives is the implementation of a specialist register which will serve to ensure that persons are indeed qualified in their specialist field. This would serve as a tool for recognition on an international level.
We can boast of having highly trained doctors spanning a very wide range of specialties. These include various medical specialties and subspecialties such as gastroenterology, cardiology, gerontology oncology; surgical specialties and subspecialties such as orthopaedics, ophthalmology, plastic surgery, urology and rhinolaryngology; rehabilitative services and radiology services which are both diagnostic and interventionist, to name a few. The majority of doctors in Barbados have completed their primary medical training at the University of the West Indies and subsequent post graduate training in the region, North America, and the UK and some have even trained as far away as Australia.
The Future of Health & Wellness
Medical Tourism is an industry which is growing rapidly worldwide. This involves traveling to a foreign country for medical care. We can justify our island as a place suitable for providing healthcare for patients throughout the region. The infrastructure certainly exists for Barbados to maximize this and perhaps change our mindset from that of service providers to the local population only, to develop the capacity to become providers of healthcare to the region and indeed the world.