HONOURABLE DAMIAN E. GREAVES
MINISTER FOR HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES, FAMILY AFFAIRS AND GENDER RELATIONS
ON THE NURSING PROGRAMME IN CUBA
On Thursday, August 10th, 2006 I traveled to the Republic of Cuba for an official meeting with the Minister for Health of Cuba, technical personnel from that Ministry as well as the Director and staff of Nursing Instruction of the School of Nursing in Cuba.
Our main subject of discussion was the Registered Nursing Programme now being pursued by one hundred and eighty two (182) student nurses from Saint Lucia under a scholarship scheme funded by the Government of Cuba. Recently there has been some uncertainty and speculation about the nature and status of the qualifications the students would receive after they have completed their studies in the next three (3) years.
Following my discussions in Cuba, I wish to confirm that the studies being undertaken by the Saint Lucian nursing students in Cuba will make them eligible to sit the Caribbean Nursing Examination so that they can become Registered Nurses in Saint Lucia. This is exactly the same practice followed by nursing students at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College. One cannot become a Registered Nurse in the Caribbean unless one successfully completes this Caribbean REGIONAL NURSING Examination. Furthermore, an offer has been made by the Cuban Authorities for the student nurses to continue for an additional two (2) years of study in order to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, SHOULD the students do well ENOUGH AND should they express their desire to do so.
I have requested and acquired a syllabus for the Nursing Programme which will be submitted to the General Nursing Council of Saint Lucia for its own assessment. The General Nursing Council will therefore ensure that the programme in Cuba will be synchronized with what obtains at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College.
A team comprising the General Nursing Council, the Saint Lucia Nurses Association, the Human Resource Department of the Ministry of Education, the Coordinator of the Health Science Division of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College and the Principal Nursing Officer of the Ministry of Health will be visiting Cuba to hold discussions with the school regarding the training programme for our nurses.
It is essential to appreciate the importance of the Cuban nursing scholarships to Saint Lucia. As a result of space constraints and the shortage of qualified nursing tutors, Sir Arthur Lewis Community College can only train approximately twenty (20) nurses every three years. Consequently, in the circumstances where Saint Lucia faces a shortage of qualified nurses, the opportunity to be able to have almost two hundred (200) trained overseas within the same time period will be invaluable.
Let me now turn to the conditions under which the nursing students live in Cuba. I held meetings with the students during my stay in Cuba and the majority HAS expressed their satisfaction with their circumstances, the manner in which the Cubans have treated them and they are eager to pursue their studies. However, there are fourteen (14) of them who for personal and family reasons, cannot continue the programme and will be returning to Saint Lucia. I will be meeting shortly with the parents of all the students to brief them on the situation in Cuba. They will be notified in writing of the date of this meeting.
In closing, let me once again assure the people of this country that the Ministry of Health and the Government are firm in their commitment to improve the quality of health care in Saint Lucia. I wish therefore to reiterate the deep appreciation of the Government of Saint Lucia to the Government and people of Cuba for the Cuban Nursing Scholarship Programme that allows us to pursue this commitment in the area of the human resource development of our health sector.
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