Category Archives: Health

The politics of Ebola

Barbados ebola

“There is no need for the pharmaceutical companies to covertly engage in genocide in Africa. The Africans are doing an excellent job of genocide on themselves.”

The Editor
Barbados Free Press
Grape Hall, Barbados
West Indies

Dear Sir/Madam,

There was a letter in the Daily Nation of September 30, 2014, entitled: “Ebola a weapon of mass destruction?” written by Mr. Leonard St.Hill. The gist of what he had to say is as follows: he advises that the absence of speculation (presumably its origins) over Ebola virus raises some suspicion.

He goes on to state “that too many epidemics in Africa seem to have the effect of weapons of mass destruction which can result in genocide.” He concludes that Africa is serving as a laboratory where the pharmaceutical (western) industry, use native Africans as test subjects to ascertain the efficacy of the pathogen and antidote, whilst making a financial killing.

In the past in your newspapers, I have stated that persons should always stick to their areas of technical expertise and that the majority of Barbadians are scientific illiterates. Mr. St. Hill falls under both headings. He displays gross ignorance of microbiology and biotechnology and is guilty of disseminating false innuendos to an uninitiated public.

The major pharmaceutical companies have little interest in doing research into little known tropical diseases. The returns on their investment are not worth it. The people of Africa are too poor and cannot afford the cost of a complete regimen of treatment. Continue reading


Filed under Africa, Barbados, Health

Caribbean Governments must remove laws criminalizing homosexuallity

“Public health academia has known for decades that to effectively curb the global crisis of HIV/AIDS we have to remove institutionalized oppression that re-enforces homophobia. It is not a panacea but it is a major part of the solution…

Twelve of the fifteen CARICOM member states still criminalize homosexuality…

Harassment, silence, intimidation and homophobic laws are a major hindrance on the efficacy of HIV outreach and prevention. It compromises the fight against HIV and AIDS.”

by Sean Macleish for Barbados Free Press

The Caribbean is second in the world to Sub-Saharan Africa in the rate of HIV infection. The primary mode of transmission in the region is heterosexual intercourse with high risk groups to include men who have sex with men (MSM) and there is intersection between the two.

Public health academia has known for decades that to effectively curb the global crisis of HIV/AIDS we have to remove institutionalized oppression that re-enforces homophobia. It is not a panacea but it is a major part of the solution.

Countries that criminalize homosexuality marginalize MSM which pushes them underground and helps to fuel the HIV epidemic. Treating people with dignity and respect facilitates effective HIV education and prevention. It reduces the discrimination many Caribbean Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender experience when accessing health services. Studies and the resulting data have consistently demonstrated that homophobia contributes to higher HIV infection rates and that internalized homophobia also increases your risk of HIV infection.

People who place a high discount rate on their lives tend to participate in higher risk behaviours. The decriminalization of homosexuality to reduce the global crisis of HIV/AIDS is a policy endorsed by the United Nations, World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization, and many non-governmental organizations. This is the consensual public health approach. Twelve of the fifteen CARICOM member states still criminalize homosexuality as of date.

SVG Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves gets it wrong…   Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Health, Human Rights

Gardasil HPV vaccine controversy continues

“Orchestrated Campaign of Intimidation” or a lively debate?

Katie Couric gets hammered for daring to challenge big business. Gardasil and the Public Flogging of Katie Couric

BFP’s thanks to Larry


Filed under Barbados, Health

Scuba diving accident at Harlequin’s Buccament Bay: Friends question emergency care, lack of insurance


“The shocker is that the injured diver was not evacuated to Barbados until the next morning – after additional serious damage happened overnight.”

“Harlequin has offered no support to injured dive instructor Michael Richards…”

Harlequin and St. Vincent news media say not a word about this story…

An experienced diving instructor at Harlequin’s Buccament Bay was evacuated to Barbados for critical care after he was seriously injured on the weekend of November 16, 17, 2013.

From what we’ve been able to gather, Bajan Michael “Richie” Richards fell unconscious after a dive and was taken to Milton Cato Hospital: but the shocker is that he was not evacuated to Barbados until the next morning after additional serious damage happened overnight.

Diving friends and co-workers are incensed and say that Richie should have been evacuated on an emergency basis right away because St. Vincent does not have a re-compression chamber, so by the time any further symptoms became apparent it would be too late.  Any diver knows that unconsciousness within a few hours of a dive is a critical indicator of decompression sickness and serious injuries possibly already done. A gas embolism (“air bubble”) in the brain or heart can kill or maim for life, and if a diver falls unconscious within a few hours of a dive, it is immediately a critical situation even if the victim regains consciousness and appears to have no other symptoms such as joint pain. Dive physicians worldwide agree on one thing: any sign of gas embolism and the diver should get moving towards a hyperbaric chamber immediately by the safest possible means.

Some of Richie’s friends and divers in general are pointing to a statement on Barbados Free Press by Kay Wilson, the owner of Indigo Watersports Ltd., as proof that Richie’s condition was not taken seriously at the time.

Ritchie’s employer Kay Wilson said…

“The following morning it became apparent that his injuries were more severe than anyone could have expected and he was transported with hours to Barbados for treatment.”

One diving colleague told Barbados Free Press “The wrong decisions were made at each step until it was too late. Richie is facing months of treatment and may not fully recover. Immediate evacuation and treatment could have made the difference and probably would have made a big difference in the seriousness of his injuries.”

Richie’s friends are also concerned that he has no insurance and that Wilson stated his dive was “after work”. Divers quite correctly point out that diving illnesses and injuries are often cumulative from multiple dives, and that the earlier work dives that very day were certainly part of the problem. They see Wilson’s statement as a poor attempt to shift liability away from Richie’s employer. They also question why a diving company would not have proper insurance for their diving instructors and students to get them quickly to a chamber the moment a problem happens.

Did Richie have a working dive computer? Was it supplied by the employer? What standards does his employer insist on? Are those standards really enforced or does the work schedule override safety? Does the employer monitor dive logs against work schedules and classes? What was his schedule for the past three months? As a working diver, did the employer arrange medical supervision and regular checkups?

No Ms. Wilson: this is not as simple as “Ritchie was diving after work”.

Barbados Free Press hopes that Richie recovers quickly. As usual, should Kay Wilson or anyone wish to say anything to our readers we would be happy to feature their comments in an article and give it the same prominence.

Further information about hyperbaric chambers and treatment in Barbados and St. Lucia:

BADASS – Barbados Divers Association

Iyanola Dive Ventures – St. Lucia Hyperbaric Center

Here are some of the exchanges about Michael ‘Richie’ Richards that happened at Barbados Free Press:  Continue reading


Filed under Health, Sports

Why is Dengue Fever up 300% so far this year?

Mosquito dengue Barbados

Dengue is serious business, and a secondary infection can be a disaster shutting down the liver or damaging the heart.

That’s serious business alright.

Epidemic Dengue is also serious business when it comes to tourism and the economy.

So what is the government doing about a spectacular 300% increase in cases?

It should be a national emergency, but all I see is the same old, same old.

Some things never change.


Filed under Barbados, Health

Where will Burger King Barbados get its beef patties?

Hey… I’m just asking!

And are large food franchises really any worse than smaller operations?

The Guardian: Burger King reveals its burgers were contaminated in horsemeat scandal


Filed under Health

Unregulated gift giving between doctors and patients follows an old Bajan tradition


There once was a time on this island when doctors did not drive BMW and Mercedes autos. There was a time when a doctor would go about his visits and stay for a meal, and perhaps receive nothing more than a meal because that was all there was. Several weeks later maybe a kingfish would be delivered to the doctor’s home and gratefully received because the doctor, like everyone, was struggling too. At Christmas time especially people would drop off what they could, and if a doctor’s son needed a better job, there was likely one to be found. If a tyre puncture needed attention as likely as not the doctor would return to the garage to find that someone had already taken care of the bill.

Those days are gone, but the gift giving has not gone. If anything the ‘gift giving’ between doctors and their patients has ramped up to impressive levels both in frequency and in the value of the bribes er, ‘gifts’ received by the doctors.

Why has this happened? Is it because the patients and citizens value the doctors and freely supplement the doctors’ salaries out of respect and thanks?

Perhaps…. but where do we divide the grateful gift givers from the subtle pressures by doctors that they could arrange that test a little earlier ‘if only the radiologist would be reasonable’ ???

We know how things work ’bout hey, and so does the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners. That’s why the BAMP wants to address this ‘gift giving’ topic as soon as possible – because they say it has the potential to undermine the system with fraud and bribery.

The docs are right. Now, if we could only convince the politicians to do the same!

Please read the article Docs playing dirty at Barbados Today Online, but if it’s not there, we’ll have it here…

Docs playing dirty

by Emmanuel Joseph

The unregulated practice of gift-giving between doctors and patients in Barbados is creating fears of possible fraud and bribery in the minds of the hierarchy of the local medical representative body. Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Health