Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Colonel Jeffrey Bostic. (FP)

I am honoured as Minister of Health and Wellness to salute nurses internationally, and especially those living and working in Barbados, on International Nurses’ Day, Tuesday, May 12.

This annual celebration of the important contribution made by nurses to the healthcare sector worldwide is particularly notable this year as it falls within one of the most severe health crises in living memory – the COVID-19 pandemic.

The invaluable role nurses play in monitoring and evaluating patients, administering medicine, consulting with other healthcare professionals and providing healthcare education to patients and their families cannot be overstated.

Amid this global pandemic, that role has been magnified times-fold as these frontline workers turn up to their jobs every day intent on providing the best available care, and helping to save as many lives as possible.

We hear and read about the heroic acts of nursing professionals all over the world as they treat and care for those infected by this highly contagious viral illness, sometimes at the risk of their own lives, for many have been stricken and some have died.

While this type of sacrifice may be hard for some people outside of your profession to understand, I know that those of you who have chosen this vocation fully embrace the notion that being a nurse is more than a job.  It is who you are. 

Your aptitude to be empathetic, to feel compassion and to provide comfort is what drew you to this profession, and it is these qualities that make you the diligent, committed healthcare professionals that you are.

(Stock Photo)

It is imperative that nurses are provided with all the personal protective equipment they need to carry out their duties each day, and here in Barbados we have worked hard to ensure that our healthcare teams have ready access to everything they require.

In this challenging environment, our nurses are not only working within the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the polyclinics, the Psychiatric Hospital and the geriatric facilities but they are now also working within our quarantine and isolation centres and the field hospital, dealing directly with those infected, or suspected of being infected with COVID-19.

Our local nurses are being ably supported by a contingent of specialist nurses sent to Barbados by the Government of Cuba.  I take this opportunity on International Nurses’ Day to once again express the gratitude of the Government and people of Barbados to the Government and people of Cuba for this valuable assistance to our country.

The World Health Organization has designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, in honour of the 200th anniversary of the birth of the world’s most famous nurse, Florence Nightingale.  The theme for this year’s celebrations is Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Nursing the World to Health.

On this International Nurses’ Day, I join all Barbadians and everyone resident in this island, in commending you, the nurses, whether you are in public health or private practice, for your excellent work during these unprecedented times.

We celebrate you and thank you for your sterling contribution to health care in Barbados.    

Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic      

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