Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and her team are willing to look “outside of the box” to tackle the Omicron variant as the cases continue to rise globally and in Barbados.
Ms. Mottley is also committed to tackling the climate crisis, and chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs), which continue to impact society.
She gave a snapshot of the issues high on her administration’s agenda while addressing the Swearing-in Ceremony for Members of the Cabinet, Members of the House of Assembly and Government Senators at State House on Wednesday.
Ms. Mottley told her audience that the first meeting, following the ceremony, will be with the new Minister of Health and Wellness, Ian Gooding-Edghill, and the Minister of State in the Ministry, Dr. Sonia Browne, the coordinating minister for social and environmental matters, and the technical officials “recognising that we may have to think outside of the box on a number of things because we do not fight this pandemic as a single source issue”.
The Prime Minister continued:
But we also fight it as part of a global community that has seen a significant disruption in the supply chain and therefore our capacity to access things as basic as tests, right through to other aspects, continue to be issues with which we must be continuously engaged as we go forward.”
Ms. Mottley shared that the latest information, from advisors at the “highest level” in the Pan American Health Organization and literature she received last week, suggested that between October 2021 and the end of March this year “it is anticipated that half of the world’s population, or to be more precise more than 3.5 billion people will, in fact, contract COVID-19, and particularly the Omicron variant”.
She cautioned that although health officials had predicted that Omicron was not as serious as the Delta variant, Ms. Mottley gave the undertaking that her government would respond appropriately to the risks, and reminded Barbadians to exercise personal responsibility and restraint in their actions.
Touching on the climate crisis, Ms. Mottley said government’s Roofs to Reefs Project was critical in this regard, in light of the 2,500 families displaced last year as a result of the freak storm and Hurricane Elsa.
She disclosed that 90 per cent of the families who lost their homes or sustained damage by the two climatic events were below the poverty line, and pledged government’s commitment to resettle all Barbadians that had been impacted.
Ms. Mottley stated: “It is for that reason that the government’s efforts on the Roofs to Reefs Project remain a critical part of this government’s new agenda because we must seek to ensure that every Barbadian household is as prepared as they can be, to fight the ravages of the climate crisis over the course of the next decade.
What does that mean? That we have to strengthen the quality of our housing and our rooftops; that we have to ensure that every Barbadian household has the capacity to keep water available to their household, and that we must make sure that keeping water includes the absolute commitment to conserve water in our midst, because there is a genuine shortage of groundwater across the globe.”
Regarding CNCDs, Ms. Mottley proffered the view that it remained one of the greatest threats to the stability of the country.
It was, for this reason, the Prime Minister said that there is a Minister of State in the Ministry of Health, with responsibility for the day-to-day functioning of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and CNCDs.
She reasoned that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital continued to see an increasing number of persons whose condition, if brought under control, would result in a significant reduction in the numbers requiring critical treatment and care in the health care system.