NURSES from the Bahamas are part of a corps from the Caribbean who will soon be more skilled at providing care for children afflicted with blood disorders and cancers.
Drawn from Barbados, the Bahamas, Jamaica, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines, the nurses recently enrolled in a specialised one-year Nursing Training Programme at the University of the West Indies (UWI) School of Nursing in El Dorado, Trinidad and Tobago. The training is part of a partnership with SickKids Caribbean and is being funded by the FirstCaribbean International Comtrust Foundation, the charitable arm of regional bank, CIBC FirstCaribbean.
The nurses, many of whom specialise in caring for children suffering with various forms of paediatric cancer and blood disorders, will form the first cohort in this segment of the training.
CIBC FirstCaribbean’s partnership with SickKids Foundation began with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in Barbados in 2013, when the bank pledged to provide $1 million over a seven-year period to train medical professionals specialising in the care of paediatric patients affected by cancer or blood disorders such as sickle cell disease. The partnership is being undertaken in collaboration with the UWI.
SickKids Foundation is a charity registered in the Caribbean, to, among other things, fund training for Caribbean medical professionals as part of the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative (SCI) through the Centre for Global Child Health at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada.
“Childhood cancer, affecting our most vulnerable citizens, is particularly heart-breaking,” said Trevor Torzsas, the bank’s Managing Director, Customer Relationship Management and Strategy and a Trustee of the FirstCaribbean International Comtrust Foundation. “Unfortunately, some of the children of our employees have been touched by diseases like cancer and sickle cell anaemia. For us, therefore, this programme to provide improved care for our region’s children is personal,” he added.
In addition to enhancing knowledge and skills in safely caring for patients with cancer and blood disorders, the training also focuses on caring for the whole family, by recognising that family is the constant in every child’s life. In addition, the moral distress nurses experience in caring for these patients will be addressed by teaching them coping strategies.
The overall objective of the initiative is to enhance the care for children in the region who are affected by cancer and blood disorders, and ultimately increase the survival rates. The five-year plan that was developed by SickKids in association with their Caribbean partners, addresses the region’s gaps in capacity to advance diagnosis and the treatment of paediatric cancer and blood disorders.