Barbados’ newest medical facility, focusing on women aging well and better managing the effects of menopause, was officially opened by the Honorable Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, on Tuesday, Oct. 18, World Menopause Day.
BioConnect Medical Centre is the brainchild of Dr. Roberta Corona and Rachel De Gale, the facility’s medical director and chief executive officer, respectively. The medical center aims to revolutionize the treatment of menopause and how women, and society in general, see that stage of a woman’s life.
Addressing those gathered at the clinic, located at The Avenue, Canewood, in St. Michael, De Gale disclosed that with the global shortage of hormone replacement therapy, BioConnect will be working with Export Barbados to help address the deficit. Through this effort, they will build on the relationship with Export Barbados, which offered technical assistance and support in setting up the clinic.
“With 44 million people in the Caribbean, we need to take care of our population, and we will be looking to establish a connection to produce our own hormone replacement therapy. Barbados is poised to be the life science headquarters of the Caribbean. When we partnered with Export Barbados in February of this year, one of the first highlights was to acknowledge that Barbados’ area code, 246, spelled the word bio. Bio means life in every language, and it was from this discovery that our name was created,” De Gale said.
Mottley, in her address, said efforts are on to make Barbados a location of excellence for life sciences in the Caribbean and the Americas, and she lauded the principals of BioConnect for starting the clinic on the island.
Alluding to the clinic’s medical tourism potential, Mottley said, “I have every confidence that Barbados can be a stellar example of the medical tourism framework that we want the world to see. We can, from this location, deliver excellent health care at affordable prices, but it means getting every part of the ecosystem correct.”
Mottley said, “In the same way that we have other people visiting Barbados for other medical services, I expect that this clinic would also boost that capacity of the country to be seen as a premier center for the delivery of medical services.”
Mottley used the opportunity to encourage Barbadians, men and women, to take better care of themselves and “know their status” concerning NCDs, including cancer. She noted that although early detection does not solve every problem, “it gives us the best possible chance.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Corona noted that the services the centre offers are in high demand as the global population of postmenopausal women grows. She indicated that by 2025, one billion women, almost 30% of the global population, will be in menopause. Noting that people are also living longer, Dr. Corona, the only certified menopause practitioner in Barbados, explained that women will spend at least a third of their lives in postmenopause.
The medical director insisted it is vital to recognize the symptoms of menopause because failure to do so can lead to the misuse of precious health care resources through unnecessary referrals to specialists and specialized tests.
“Seventy-five percent of these women will experience menopausal symptoms, and one in three will have severe debilitating symptoms, disruptive to personal and professional life. In fact, a recent study showed that due to menopausal symptoms, about 50% of women are forced to resign, have to go on early retirement, or are denied a promotion. Women in menopause without proper counseling and adequate treatment are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes type 2, osteoporosis, and dementia,” Dr. Corona said.
BioConnect, in addition to offering gynecological services and menopause management, looks forward to filling the medical literature gaps regarding menopause in women of color. BioConnect will gather data to help rewrite some of those menopause guidelines, which primarily target white women.