Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, has addressed the rumors surrounding the arrival of Ghanaian nurses to assist the island nation with healthcare, calling them inaccurate. The nurses arrived following a Human Resources Agreement between the two countries when President Nana Akufo-Addo visited the island nation in June 2019.
Mottley said prior to their arrival, there was “a lot of fake news and a lot of talk” that got her wondering if those comments would have been the same if the health workers were coming from eastern Europe, Barbados Today reports.
Out of the 95 nurses who arrived in the Caribbean nation on July 30, nine of them tested positive for COVID-19 the next day. The infected nurses are currently receiving treatment in isolation while the others went into the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
“I hope that Barbadians accept that we are dealing with people who have come to help us. We have had the benefit of 100 Cuban nurses, we have the benefit of these nurses, there has been a hiccup for only nine of them, but I have asked both doctors who are better qualified than I am, to be able to speak to the fact that not just these nurses, but doctors and nurses over the world have been exposed to the virus and have returned to the front line in order to be able to save more lives,” she said.
Mottley made those comments during a press briefing to address concerns pertaining to the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country over the weekend. The Caribbean island has so far reported over 130 cases with 100 recoveries and seven deaths.
The Prime Minister justified taking in the Ghanaian nurses, saying their medical system is currently understaffed. She, however, reiterated her government’s commitment to increasing the current number of Barbadian nurses albeit it’s going to take some time to train and get them ready, Barbados Today further reports.
“In the interim, we need to take care of those patients who are in urgent need of the assistance,” said Mottley. “And I want to say to all Barbadians, that our brothers and sisters have come from across the Atlantic Ocean to help us and to buttress and to reinforce our health services and I really do hope that we will treat them as honoured guests.
“There is no reason even with this hiccup, for any concern, but I believe that if we continue, once they are out and you are working with them, that you will see and appreciate what many of us do.
“They will add tremendous value and help us to save many lives in this country that we might not otherwise be able to save. Our health system is not perfect, but it is still better than most across the world.”
The head of Infectious Diseases at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Dr Corey Forde, also provided an update on the condition of the nurses.
“They are all doing quite well and are in good spirits and thus far have related quite well to the staff,” Dr Forde said. “I would go as far as to say Prime Minister that one of them wanted to know if they could work at the facility with us. With regards to the others who are in quarantine facilities, apart from one who got ill, who is doing quite well now, they are quite fine.”
Speaking after their arrival, Barbados‘ Minister of Health Lt Col Jeffrey Bostic, said: “These nurses will be working at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital as well as the primary healthcare sector, that is the Geriatric Hospitals and polyclinics.”
Bostic added the current COVID-19 pandemic means they couldn’t have arrived at a better time.
“But that is not the only thing that we have to deal with as a Ministry of Health,” Bostic said. “We have the remainder of the healthcare sector to take care of even though we are fighting this battle and your presence here today and certainly when you start to work in a couple weeks’ time would enhance our capacity to deliver the quality of healthcare services that we have been doing for years, and that we will continue to do.”
He continued: “Even though we have to divert some of our efforts to fighting COVID, we are now in a better position to deal with the remainder of the healthcare system in Barbados. And we are very happy for you.”