Former Minister of Health and MP for North Andros and the Berry Islands Dr. PERRY GOMEZ, has died.
He was 76.
Dr. GOMEZ passed away quietly at home.
In a statement, Prime Minister Philip ‘Brave’ Davis paid tribute to Dr Gomez, saying he was a “true son of Bahamian soil”.
“Today, our nation mourns the loss of a giant in public health and a true son of Bahamian soil, Dr. Michael Perry Gomez. Dr. Gomez’s life epitomized the very spirit of selflessness, commitment, and passion for the health and well-being of our people,” Mr Davis said.
“For over three decades, Dr. Gomez spearheaded efforts that not only transformed the landscape of public health in The Bahamas but also reverberated across the Caribbean and the world. From his groundbreaking work in reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV using AZT treatments to pioneering partnerships that made crucial medications more accessible to our people, he left an indelible mark. It’s hard to imagine where we would be in our fight against infectious diseases, especially HIV/AIDS, without Dr. Gomez’s visionary leadership.
“I fondly recall the many times Dr. Gomez and I sat down to discuss the intricacies of our public health policies. His infectious enthusiasm, combined with a profound depth of knowledge, was truly inspiring. Every interaction was a masterclass, and I often left our meetings with renewed faith in our nation’s capabilities and potential.
“Dr. Gomez’s life story, from his humble beginnings on Family Islands to his celebrated contributions in the field of medicine, serves as a beacon of inspiration for all Bahamians. His dedication to public service and his unrelenting pursuit of excellence have paved the way for future generations of medical professionals in our nation.
“Beyond his accolades, which are numerous, Dr. Gomez was a compassionate human being who treated every patient, every colleague, and every student with the same level of respect and care. Whether you were a fellow doctor, a young intern, or someone seeking his expertise, Perry made you feel seen and heard.
“His legacy extends beyond his pioneering work in medicine. As Minister of Health, Dr. Gomez displayed a profound commitment to ensuring that all Bahamians had access to quality healthcare. His belief that healthcare is a human right, not a privilege, resonated deeply with me and has continued to shape our government’s policies.
Today, as we grieve his loss, let us also celebrate the life of a man who truly exemplified what it means to serve one’s nation. To the family of Dr. Gomez, Ann and I extend our deepest condolences. Know that the legacy of Dr. Perry Gomez is etched into the heart of our nation and will continue to inspire us for generations to come.”
Education: Dr. Gomez was born and raised in the Berry Islands, just north of New Providence, Bahamas. Upon graduation from High School, Perry studied at the University of the West Indies where he earned a degree in medicine in 1971. Immediately thereafter he proceeded to Wayne State University where he specialised in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases. This preparation began an exciting and eventful life of selfless and unsurpassed public health service in The Bahamas. He has also published widely with his most celebrated work being his contribution to “Fourth Generation Enzyme linked to Immuno-Absorbent Assay for the Simultaneous Detection of HIV Antigen and Antibody”.
Civics/Social: Dr. Gomez used his vast professional and leadership skills to assist our Caribbean sister nations in the fight against HIV/AIDS. He was the Standing Chair of the Executive Council of the Caribbean HIV and AIDS Regional Training Initiative; serves as Co-Chair of the regional initiative for the Elimination of Vertical Transmission of HIV and Syphilis and was a member of the Executive Board of PANCAP. Internationally, Dr. Gomez has served on various technical advisory bodies of PAHO/ WHO, UNAIDS and the Clinton Foundation. It is against this background of solid performance that Dr. Gomez has been the recipient of several prestigious awards.
In 1998, he received the “Merit Award of the Government of the Bahamas” for contribution to Medicine; in 2003, he was admitted to the Most Excellent of the Order of the British Empire; in 2005, he was named “Civil Society Person of the Year of The Bahamas”; also in 2005, he was recognised as The Bahama Journal’s “Person of the Year” and in 2010, received the coveted “Sir Linden Pindling Award for Excellence.”
As the Bahama Journal summed it up in its tribute of 2005, “the good doctor has been the epitome of what world class is all about and we have a responsibility to reward excellence”. In 2010, Dr. Michael Perry Gomez was the recipient of the PANCAP Award for Excellence for his remarkable accomplishments and lifetime of distinguished service. PANCAP is the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS.
Professional/Career: Dr. Gomez, a career public servant, has devoted his entire professional life to improving the life, health and welfare of the Bahamian people in addition to our Caribbean neighbours. For more than three decades, he placed his considerable and renowned skills as an internist and infectious disease specialist to the service of the people of The Bahamas and, indeed, the wider Caribbean. Dr. Gomez is internationally known and recognised for his work in the National HIV response in The Bahamas. This pioneer is the founder and Director of the National HIV Programme of the Bahamas and, as a complementary initiative, also founded the AIDS Clinical Services Programme at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Nassau. Under Dr. Gomez’s leadership, HIV transmission rates in The Bahamas have declined by more than 30%; HIV transmission from mother-to-child has all but disappeared; 72% of all persons with advanced HIV receive requisite treatment, while 100% of all persons with HIV and TB co-infection receive full treatment for both conditions.