The Minister of Health Dr. the Hon. Duane Sands said he pledges to support a re-examination and increase in the salary scales for health professionals working in medical laboratory careers as part of a larger review across the health system with an eye to addressing health careers where the country is facing critical shortfalls in staffing and recruitment. “Likewise, I am also committed to engaging the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) and Ministry of Health in dialogue with respect to providing greater incentives to attract and retain laboratory professionals and other allied health professionals, Dr. Sands said at the PHA Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) ‘Department of Pathology and Laboratory Services Professionals Week’ Opening Ceremony in the Critical Care Block, April 23, 2018. He said with the assistance of those in the profession and guidance of relevant experts, he will seek to implement a medical technology program locally through The University of The Bahamas to facilitate the education, training, and certification of new lab professionals up to the Baccalaureate level in The Bahamas.
Dr. Sands also noted that the theme of the week, “Laboratory Professionals Get Results” is timely as in recent years, The Bahamas like many nations in the Caribbean, has weathered significant infectious disease threats. “Indeed, just in the later months of 2017, public concern was heightened as several reported cases of tuberculosis were detected in public schools, in Eleuthera and several businesses. This instance allows me to pull the curtain back on the many important functions executed by our medical laboratory services, allowing the public a brief glimpse in the diverse and dynamic department that supports the care we deliver to the Bahamian people.” He said the Microbiology Department at PMH’s laboratory was instrumental in testing for the tuberculosis bacteria, allowing for timely diagnosis and prompt medical intervention.
The Health Minister said the Serology Department in conjunction with the Microbiology Department has been critical in the national response to potential outbreaks of the Zika virus, Dengue Fever, and Chikungunya; while the Haematology Department continues to screen for malaria. “These and other serious infectious diseases are not endemic to The Bahamas, but they could be it not for the excellent work done in our medical laboratories; they help to provide a strong response to an outbreak.” He said the lab’s Chemistry Department helps with the diagnosis of high cholesterol and cardiac arrest. This is an increasingly important discipline as the country continues to see epidemic rates of non-communicable diseases and the very serious complications arising from these serious chronic illnesses.
Dr. Sands said the Cytology Department deals with the examinations of pap smears and Histology assists physicians in the diagnosis of whether a sample tissue sent for analysis is benign or cancerous. “When one considers how much a diagnosis depends on conducting the proper labs, you gain an appreciation for the professionals who work in this field and why they ought to be celebrated.”