“I have a passion for working with key populations"
Dr. Rashida Daisley is the 31-year-old Clinical Director of the Barbados Family Planning Association (BFPA) and is also the president of the Barbados Association of Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (BAEP). “I have a passion for working with key populations and that’s what lead me to work at BFPA,” She says and takes pride in BFPA's continued leadership of sexual and reproductive health services in Barbados.
Offering a spectrum of gynecological care while also conducting specialized clinics, steadily expanding its practice to include more general services including antenatal care. There is a men’s clinic that addresses both SRH and physical and emotional wellbeing while BFPA’s surgical clinic offers minor surgeries such as hernia repair, lumpectomies, and vasectomies.
Despite funding challenges, BFPA has committed to providing critical support to the under-served LGBTQ+ community in Barbados by partnering with NGO - Sexuality, Health and Empowerment (SHE) to provide affordable, high quality and inclusive health services to lesbians, bisexual and queer women, as well as non-binary and transgender persons - an effort spearheaded personally by Dr. Daisley, while also supporting pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEp) and STI clinics at Equals Barbados, another LBGTQ+ organization on the island.
COVID-19 and filling the gaps
Dr. Daisley says she is pleased that clinical services were able to continue throughout the pandemic, unfortunately, COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on Barbados’ economy and society. As a tourism-dependent nation, a large proportion of the Barbadian workforce became unemployed in a very short period which in turn negatively affected the ability of marginalized persons to access basic services or even basic hygiene products.
BFPA sought funding and donations to fill this gap and was able to secure funding from international organizations such as UNFPA, as well as donations of sanitary items from the Lady Box Project, a local NGO aimed at ending period poverty.
With funding from IPPF assisting in the provision of services to key populations such as persons living with HIV, men who have sex with men, sex workers, and LGBTQ+ persons. The allocation of funds to provide services to these groups allowed BFPA the financial space to direct its efforts to their other clients.
Perhaps surprisingly, a relatively large subset of BFPA’s clients are older persons.
“The majority of people that BFPA interacts with are pretty open but that is probably because the people who seek out BFPA are already open-minded enough to access services at an organization with the words ‘family planning’”, Dr. Daisley laughed, “we do get a lot of referrals.”
Perhaps surprisingly, a relatively large subset of BFPA’s clients are older people, many of whom started coming to BFPA as young people, while a small number of older persons do still seek out services because they are sexually active. Unfortunately, they grew up in a social climate where sexual and reproductive health education was virtually non-existent and the work to provide them better access is ongoing. Dr. Daisley explains that the older population often do not think that they need to see the doctor about their sexual activity because there is no possibility of pregnancy. They are also not aware of the breadth of STI testing available. “When I ask them when was their last STI test, they usually say a few years ago at a health fair.” When probed, many of them disclose that they have only ever been tested for HIV and are not aware of many of the other STIs.
In contrast, younger persons tend to have a healthier and more informed approach to sex and sexuality. Dr. Daisley observes that there is an increase in young people coming to be tested with their partners, and she attributes this in part to the important work that the BFPA’s Youth Advocacy Movement has done over the years, and essential to the progress of comprehensive sexual education.