By Elesha George
A new executive was elected to lead the Antigua and Barbuda Nurses Association (ABNA) on Tuesday, and already it has a packed agenda. Chief among their bullet-point list is the need for more scholarships to be made available for nurses.
Yesterday, the President-elect of ABNA, Soria Dupie-Winston, said the government needs to ensure that the health professionals are equipped so that they are able to specialise in various fields of nursing.
She told listeners to OBSERVER’s Voice of the People programme, “We know worldwide there’s a shortage of nurses. And I mean nurses are going in droves to the US, to Canada, to [the] UK for want of a better term, greener pastures and in order to ensure that we maintain or retain our nurses, not only we as a people, but we, as a government, have to ensure that we provide opportunities for capacity building where nursing is concerned in Antigua and Barbuda.
“We are looking to ensure that we have constant dialogue with the government especially with the Ministry of Health. We realise that some of the nurses feel a bit despondent and demotivated at present [and] that’s why they’re leaving in droves. There are quite a few persons who have left this year alone and from the consensus that you get, persons are feeling that the government doesn’t care, management doesn’t care about us, and you know what we’re going somewhere else where we think they will care.”
The president-elect continued: “Just the other day, I heard of two excellent nurses who have decided to migrate and they have actually already left. And I felt real hurt when these nurses were leaving but I can understand their frustration and why they want to leave, but we’re hoping as a new executive that we can at least provide some sort of comfort to our membership that things will definitely get better.”
In recounting her own experience to attain higher education in the field, Dupie-Winston explained how difficult it had been for her to solicit enough money to pursue her career goals.
“I recently came back from studying about a year or two years ago and I found it very hard in terms of getting financial assistance to pursue my studies and I could have given up but I persevered. I had to go and knock on many doors to get scholarship and to get sponsorship. I have had options to travel abroad. Even where I went to study, I was asked to stay and I said no, I’m going back home because I want to see things better in Antigua and Barbuda,” the ABNA president-elect said.
But to see that change, she insists that nurses should be treated fairly, given proper working conditions and remuneration, so that they may be able to provide the excellent quality care that residents in Antigua and Barbuda have been calling for.
Also high on the executive’s agenda, is to ensure that the authorities continue to address the poor working environment, particularly at the clinics, which is said to be frustrating some of the nurses.
“We would like to see more action being done than talking. We would like to see progress, we would like to see work being done,” Dupie-Winston stressed.
Other members of the new executive include the First Vice President, Arlea Gregory; Second Vice President, Michelle Llyons; Treasurer Virda Francis; Assistant Treasurer Sonia Grant (retired nurse); Secretary Ronis Browne; and Assistant Secretary, April King Francis.
The other members are Elenora Warner (President of the Caribbean Nurses Organisation), Juliette Gloade, Roselia Joseph, Julianna Smith, Carolyn Daley-Lewis and Stacy Jeffers.
The out-going president is Karen Josiah.