REMARKS AT THE OPENING OF THE BANK’S HEALTH FAIR – JUNE 2, 2011
Staff of the Central Bank of Barbados, Exhibitors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good Morning and Welcome to the Bank’s Annual Health Fair.
This event has become an integral part of the calendar of activities for health awareness in Barbados. I can well remember the first time the Bank hosted a fair of this nature. We were looking for ways to celebrate our 25th Anniversary in 1997 and one of our work colleagues, Mrs June Skeete who has since passed away, suggested that a health fest be included in the week of activities. At that time, it was a novel idea for a central bank and indeed for most institutions to go public on health issues; the only other major effort of this kind was sponsored by one of the daily newspapers in Queen’s Park. However, we held the fair and it was a roaring success and , if my memory serves me well, we have not looked back since then. So if for no other reason, we should continue to support this annual event to honour June’s memory.
But there is another reason why the Bank must persist with this fair. Our broad mission is to promote the economic development of this country. What better way is there to achieve that goal than by making good health a national priority! You have heard time and time again that Barbados’ richest resource (some say only resource) is its people. Well that resource needs to be in excellent shape if it is to perform at its highest level of efficiency. In our factories we do maintenance on machinery and equipment to keep them in tip-top shape; on the farm we pull weeds and fertilize the land to ensure the highest yields. it must be equally or more important to pay attention to the physical and mental wellbeing of our people in the interest of keeping Barbados as the country of choice in the developing world.
Of course when it comes to healthcare, the saying that prevention is better than cure is particularly true both for the individual and nation. Let us be frank. Many of the people who become ill never fully recover, even with access to the best possible treatment. It therefore makes sense to do whatever you can to avoid getting ill. But it is also comforting to know that if you do get ill that you are aware of all of the possible interventions that can help you to better manage your condition and improve the quality of life. Healthcare is increasingly becoming a individual responsibility. Government cannot do it all; the costs are too high. Each one of us has to make the maintenance of good health a personal project. But to do this we need information.
Every year, this fair provides information on both prevention and cure in respect of physical and mental health. From looking at the list of exhibitors for this year , it is obvious that the organizers have again tried very hard to get the involvement of as wide a range as possible of healthcare providers. There is clearly an emphasis on chronic non-communicable ailments since from all accounts the incidence of these diseases is causing some concern for health planners. Complementary to this, you can get information on mental health and nutrition as well as have access to product sampling, medical testing and personal care. Several non-profit organisations are also in attendance. Later in the day, please feel free to take part in the line-dancing session on the terrace of the Frank Collymore Hall; it is good exercise.
Before concluding, l need to give a few kudos. Of course our gratitude goes first of all to the exhibitors, many of whom have been onboard from the beginning; thanks as well to you ladies and gentlemen of the public for your attendance for yet another year. Kudos to the Human Resources Department who took the lead in organising this event.
Having said that, I can now declare open this year’s Health Fair.