BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: This country is set to create history next month, when it becomes the first Caribbean island to take over the chairmanship of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
According to reports, Barbados taking over the chairmanship of the WHO will mean that citizens from small island developing states will have a greater presence within the organization.
Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, said he wanted to see more West Indians working in international organizations.
“Barbados is a member of the Executive Board of the World Health Organisation. We are heavily tipped, next month, to take over as chairman of the World Health Organisation,” he said.
“I believe it is the first time a Caribbean island will have such an honour. One of the things I’ve always said is that once the opportunity presents itself, I am going to ensure that citizens of small island developing states do have a stronger voice and a stronger presence in these organizations than we have been having in the past.”
The health minister also said that, at the regional level, Caribbean countries needed to agree on what they wanted to get out of these international bodies and aggressively pursue them “without fear or favour”.
Inniss said that whenever there was a need for consultants, “it is usually somebody from Latin America or Eastern Europe coming around here telling us what to do” when the Caribbean region had resource persons that were just as intelligent, qualified and capable of doing the job.
“I go to (Pan American Health Organisation) meetings and the folks from Latin America are … demanding and get everything, and we sit back, docile,” he said.
“West Indians are not the most aggressive; we go to meetings, we recognize there is a budget and there are programs we can benefit from, but we take a back seat to our brothers and sisters from Latin America,” he said.
“Then, we wonder why they are getting all of the help down there, and we are struggling over here. It is because our voices are not being heard.”