Concerns over declining birth rate in Barbados

(CNS) – Barbados has expressed concern at the declining birth rate over the last decade.

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George, speaking at a conference, hosted by the World Pediatric Project, in partnership with Rotary International and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), said since 2007, the island has recorded a 15 per cent decline in births, with a drop from 3, 258 births in 2007 to 2, 346 births in 2017.

He told the conference, which ends later on Friday, that the situation is “worrying”, adding “declining birth rates, coupled with an ageing population, will have a significant impact on our ability to project for the future requirements of national development.”

George said that the Ministry of Health and Wellness would be starting a national dialogue on the issue.

He said the pursuit of a national solution would involve a multi-sectoral approach, including ministries and agencies such as the Ministries of Youth and Community Empowerment, Finance and Economic Affairs, and People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, and the National Insurance and Welfare Departments.

The conference had as its theme “Improving Perinatal Care in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean” and George said that funds had been allocated for the implementation of a national plan of action on neonatal health in Barbados.

He said that the plan would provide for strengthening and investment in antenatal care, support for safe and incident-free childbirth and quality medical care in the first four weeks of an infant’s life.

“The way forward in improving perinatal and neonatal care in Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean seems to lie in improving the quality of care, which can be achieved by providing training for staff in neonatal intensive care method,” the acting Chief Medical Officer told the audience of regional clinicians and administrators in neonatal care.

He said he was confident that the ideas, deliberations and recommendations emerging from the conference “would not only usher in a renewed understanding of this complex area of health care, but would be implemented to improve perinatal care in Barbados and across the wider Caribbean.”