||Central Bank Of Barbados
On behalf of the Central Bank of Barbados family, welcome to the 43rd edition of the Sir Winston Scott Memorial Lecture.
I extend a warm welcome to our distinguished lecturer, Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director of PAHO, and a proud Caribbean lady who has made the delivery of healthcare worldwide, her passion, her mission, her life. Dr. Etienne, welcome to the Bank and to Barbados.
I am also delighted to recognise on your behalf, as well, members of the Scott family who join us annually to celebrate the life and work of their patriarch, the late Sir Winston Scott, an outstanding Barbadian physician and Barbados’ first native Governor General.
We value your commitment to and support for this lecture series, and thank you for allowing us to continue to honour this outstanding Barbadian in a series that holds the record for the longest lasting event of this nature in Barbados.
We are confident that this year’s lecture on “Healthcare Reform and the Role of Technology” would resonate strongly with the man for whom this lecture is named. Sir Winston enjoyed an illustrious medical career and volunteered his services to this nation: he delivered public health lectures; taught hygiene to primary school students and offered free health checks at a secondary school. He recognised, appreciated and promoted the nexus between the health of the people and the health of the nation.
Started in the late 1970s, these lectures reflect the visionary leadership of Sir Courtney Blackman, the Bank’s founding father.
Sir Courtney built a solid foundation for thought leadership programmes for which the Bank is now renowned and for which it has earned an enviable reputation in Barbados and the Caribbean.
I commend all successive leaders of the Bank including our own Governor Haynes for sustaining the series, and for upholding the vision of our first leader.
The lectures, like our other thought leadership initiatives, are a platform for the country to engage with, share with and learn from internationally-acclaimed speakers with varied expertise, backgrounds and perspectives.
We are putting Barbados in touch with pioneers who are innovating, inventing, discovering and transforming.
Our guest lecturer is herself a game changer. Born in neighbouring Dominica, Dr. Carissa Etienne is reforming and transforming international healthcare, championing universal access to healthcare and health coverage and spearheading “the right to health”.
We are honoured to have her address us and I do believe that we have made a record in the lecture series by consecutively hosting two female lecturers of Dominican heritage that are dedicated to human development.
This lecture on “Healthcare Reform and the Role of Technology” is very opportune. We in Barbados value the high degree of public provision of health care services, which has resulted in government spending about 4% of GDP on healthcare in support of reduced infant mortality rates, increased life expectancy and the general well-being of our populace. At the same time we recognise that greater use of technology is critical to modernising our society and economy, and the efficacy of healthcare provisioning, is no different. Furthermore, this is paramount to us being smarter in our efforts to increase productivity, revitalise our economy and improve our competitiveness.
We at the Bank are in the vanguard of promoting the use of technology in the financial services sector.
Recently, you would have heard of efforts by us and the Financial Services Commission (FSC) to promote and encourage financial technology companies and the application of Fintech to improve the range and delivery of financial services. We joined with the FSC to launch a regulatory sandbox, to test new fintech products and services in a closely supervised environment. We believe that such technologies can safely reduce the cost of financial transactions and provide more efficient services to consumers without undermining the financial system.
We further believe that opportunities exist for us to use these very technologies such as blockchain applications, in the delivery of healthcare and particularly digital ledger technology to securely store medical records. These opportunities and possibilities must be explored, and we stand ready to facilitate such, without compromising the stability of the system.
We therefore welcome Dr. Etienne’s insights on these matters as we too look for ways to incorporate technology more widely in providing healthcare services, ever cognisant that technology is the foundation of the empowerment economy, and pivotal to the further development of our nation.
Ladies and gentleman, these are evolutionary times. Like you, I keenly anticipate the presentation from Dr. Etienne. I thank you.