Address by Honourable Damian E. Greaves at the Regional Council Meeting And Strategic Planning Meeting of The Caribbean Association Of Medical Technologists
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Honourable Damian E. Greaves


Minister For Health, Human Services, Family Affairs And Gender Relations


At The


Regional Council Meeting And Strategic Planning Meeting Of The


Caribbean Association Of Medical Technologists


Saint Lucia – May 05th, To 09th, 2006


Theme: “laboratory Professionals – Providing Answers, Guiding Cures”.


Whenever as minister I get a chance to say thank you to people and organisations that work in the interest of the public, I feel a deep sense of satisfaction. Therefore I am grateful for this opportunity that you have afforded me. I would like to thank Casmet, the Caribbean association of medical technologists, for its over five decades of work in this region. Casmet was born in 1954 and identified an ambitious set of aims and objectives that have guided the work of this organisation over the years. In particular, I want to highlight today one of the objectives of Casmet. The one that reads, “To encourage high standards of professional conduct”.


Professionalism demands the following attributes:

    1. Knowledge of the discipline

    2. Understanding of the culture and environment in which we operate

    3. Application of an ethical code


These attributes when clearly understood by an individual and implemented in a disciplined and continuous manner result in professional conduct.


In this modern world of technology and access to information, the acquisition of knowledge is not difficult, however professionalism demands that we do the hard work, burn the proverbial “midnight oil” and continuously acquire knowledge. I appreciate the hard work of Casmet over the years in ensuring that medical technologists receive the appropriate core knowledge of the discipline in the educational institutions. I want to exhort Casmet to work in the area of continuous professional development and examine ways that through partnership with government we can implement a system that not only facilitates acquisition of knowledge, but also guarantees that all medical technologists will be continually updating themselves. In Saint Lucia we intend to enact the health practitioners bill that will introduce formal registration and licensing of medical technologists. One of my main reasons for championing this bill is the intention to have regulations that will ensure a system of continuous professional development. I look forward to your input and support in this important initiative.


I am always heartened by Caribbean organisations of Caribbean people addressing Caribbean issues. Who better than us understand our environment? My distress often comes when I hear Caribbean and more specifically saint Lucian professionals dismissing their own culture and environment. I hear people lamenting existing conditions casting aspersions and blame. Much of what people describe is true, conditions are not what they should be, resources are never enough to satisfy our wants and even our needs. The question is how should a Caribbean professional and indeed Casmet respond to our challenges? I should leave the answer for you articulate, but I will propose my answer for you to reflect on. I believe that as Caribbean people, we cannot lament and then opt out with excuses like “these fellas not listening” etc. We must stand the professional ground, articulate the solutions, be creative, use our skills to constantly push and drive the improvements necessary in the system. Remember every inch of ground is important. That is every workplace, every forum, every meeting, every paper, every memo is an opportunity to improve the system. Be constant, be guided by the attributes of a professional. You are Caribbean people, you know the culture and environment, you are trained professionals you know what needs to be done. Your mission is to create the healthy nexus between the two, to ensure that as a people we achieve what we must. There is no room, no quarter for failure. Frustration you will face, yes, but you cannot allow frustration to derail you. Wheel and come again. Look how far we have come and take heart, we have further to go and we can do it.


I am pleased to have been the minister under which the iso15189 standard for medical laboratories was formally accepted as our national standard. Annex c of this standard is entitled “ethics in laboratory medicine”. I want to highlight professional ethics. It has been my experience that when things are good and there is no pressure it is easy to abide by ethical principles. The real test is when there is pressure. The measure of the person is not where you stand in good times but rather where you stand in times of adversity. It is on the battleground of adversity that ethics will save you as it has saved me. You can never deviate from fundamental ethical principles. Principles such as honesty, fairness and the welfare of people. All codes of ethics are built on these principles. The one adopted in iso15189 details for laboratory professionals how these principles should be applied in laboratory practice. It is good to have the code documented, we need to have the code constantly applied. I pledge my support in this area and I look forward to yours.


In closing I refer to your theme “laboratory professionals- providing answers, guiding cures” this theme says a lot, it emphasizes the need for professionalism, it also highlights the critical role that laboratories play in providing answers for health professionals and governments to act in an informed and evidence based manner. I congratulate you on two counts, one for your choice of profession and two for your commitment. Both of which are vital for this region and of course for my own country Saint Lucia.


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