Prime Minister Mia Mottley has lauded the Barbados Fertility Clinic (BFC) for its contribution to Barbados' medical tourism product.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the clinic's 20th anniversary [recently], Mottley applauded the BFC for achieving and maintaining international accreditation while fulfilling the dreams of thousands of families across the world.

“You have done it in a way that has brought medical tourism to a centre for us and having people visiting here in the seamless way in which it happens,” she said at the BFC in Hastings, Christ Church. “All of this brings pride and honour to our country but, importantly, foreign exchange and jobs as well.”

Prime Minister Mottley assured management that the Government looked forward to working with the centre to review the possibility of expanding the practice to attract other types of medical services, as well as medical tourism generally.

“Our population is only 300 000 and if we limit ourselves to the 300 000 here we would never be able to have either the scale or the depth of services. And that is why we see Barbados as a global domicile for the provision of medical services,” she said.

“We can accommodate you from anywhere in the world and once we continue to grow out these range of services then I have every confidence that that which we have invested over the years in our people would bring the return which we need.”

The BFC is the only IVF clinic in the Caribbean to have JCI accreditation which is considered the gold standard in global health care. The clinic is focused on individual care and committed to providing the highest quality medical care with an established and success-proven, internationally trained medical team. It has a track record of offering a commendable IVF success rate to patients who travel to Barbados for treatment.

In 2005, the BFC moved to its current location, Seaston House, Hastings, which was renovated to meet its needs and provide a single-site clinic.

Medical Director Dr Juliet Skinner recalled that in 2009, the BFC opened a satellite clinic in Trinidad, and a decade later opened the doors of a full IVF clinic in the Cayman Islands.

BFC, which began with a team of four, now has 55 staff members.

Dr Skinner said the centre has followed scientific advances in the IVF field to stay at the cutting edge.

She acknowledged that with 90 per cent of the clinic's patients being non-Barbadians, the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted the clinic.

“But we can proudly say that not only did we weather that storm, but we, in fact, are busier than ever,” Dr Skinner said. “We must also prepare for the future and strategically ensure that BFC is on track to celebrate its 30th and 40th anniversaries to come. Today, we would like to thank all those who have played a role in this achievement.”

Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who accompanied Prime Minister Mottley to the event, congratulated the BFC for its outstanding work, as he shared that, globally, an estimated 48 million couples and 186 million individuals experience fertility problems.

However, Dr Ghebreyesus said in addition to many of these families being unable to access fertility treatment, they face the emotional challenges of not being able to become pregnant.

“Reading about your work, getting information from your colleagues about your work, I think documenting this experience within the last 20 years would be important,” he told the BFC. “And sharing it with other countries could be part of our advocacy to show countries that this is possible, it can be done.”

“So, if you agree, you should think about it. Of course, we would be happy to document your experience and share it with the rest of the world so others can benefit and use your experience as a model,” the WHO Director General said.

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