Barbados making strides in Global Health Collaboration Initiative

20 Sep 2023
Laboratory training in Barbados

Bridgetown, Barbados, 19 September 2023 (PAHO) - The Best dos Santos Public Health Laboratory could soon become a World Health Organization (WHO) collaborating centre for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) detection and surveillance.

This was revealed by Dr. Amalia Del Riego, PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries (ECC), during the opening ceremony of a training workshop for laboratory technologists. These laboratory technologists work in public health laboratories in Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Haiti, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname.

The workshop is taking place at the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory from September 19 to 22, 2023.

Entitled ‘Training on Molecular Detection and Diagnosis of Carbapenemase Genes in Gram-Negative Bacteria’, the training forms phase 2 of the Cooperation among Countries for Health Development (CCHD) project on AMR detection and surveillance.

WHO collaborating centres assist WHO support countries to build capacity to develop and implement AMR surveillance.

Dr. Del Riego said of the training: “This and many other multi-country trainings that have happened just this year in the Best dos Santos laboratory demonstrate the interest this laboratory and the Government of Barbados have in fostering south to south collaboration. We hope this soon translates into Best dos Santos becoming a WHO collaborating centre on AMR.”

Dr. Del Riego added: “We appreciate the support provided by the Government of Argentina in the past, and currently for antimicrobial resistance detection and surveillance across the Caribbean. We wish to acknowledge the support of Malbran Institute (Buenos Aires, Argentina), a WHO collaborating centre for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance.”

Molecular training provides countries with the capacity to diagnose AMR, one of the most important emerging threats. The training involves detection of disease-causing organisms which are virtually resistant to all known antibiotics.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George, reiterated that AMR training is a priority for Barbados, which is evident as both human and veterinary laboratory technologists are attending the workshop.

Dr. George said AMR diseases are becoming more prevalent and therefore thanked the Government of Argentina for their continuing support for training. “Your support, both technically and financially, through the Malbran Institute is designed to support and promote antimicrobial stewardship across the Caribbean.”

The CMO recalled that in 2019 the World Health Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution calling for continued high level commitments to implement multisectoral national action plans. “Barbados”, he said, “is in the process of developing a framework to achieve this goal.”

Dr. George expressed his appreciation to PAHO for providing its technical expertise to the Best dos Santos Public Health Laboratory. PAHO was credited with providing influenza surveillance and laboratory testing support, “with a view to establishing the Best dos Santos Laboratory as a recognized influenza testing site in the subregion.”

Chargé d'Affaires of the Embassy of the Argentine Republic in Barbados, Mrs. Vanesa Romani, recounted that in 2018 Argentina, PAHO and Caricom signed a commitment establishing the Cooperation among Countries for Health Development (CCHD) project. This made it possible for two technicians from the Best dos Santos Laboratory to attend training in Argentina.

Romini said the training received has improved the ability to deal with emergencies.