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May 26, 2004

Nurses seek more respect for profession

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Here’s a riddle. What is it that Rodney Dangerfield can’t ever seem to get, that Aretha Franklin has to spell out, and Belize’s nurses find lacking? News 5′s Jacqueline Woods has the answer.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

There are just over four hundred nurses working at various medical centres in the country. These dedicated men and women assist doctors in providing care for the sick… And while the Nurses Association of Belize strongly believes that nurses are the backbone of the health care system, the N.A.B. feels they are not given the respect they deserve.

Matthew Martinez, President, Nurses Association of Belize

“The various conditions of work under which nurses are now working, the constraints under which nurses are working at this time would definitely lead to a large number of nurses leaving the health care system or actually going into other fields, or leaving the country for greener pastures.”

Jacqueline Woods

“What are some of the working conditions?”

Matthew Martinez

“What happen is for example salaries, salaries is a big concern at this time. As a matter of fact, re-numeration and compensation for work that is being done, and for our qualifications. Because we also notice that we are not being recognised fully by the people who we are working for, the institutions under which we work, and the government. Because for example, as nurses we are qualified, many of us are highly qualified and highly skilled, but what happen is we are not being placed in the proper areas where we should.”

N.A.B.’s president Matthew Martinez says they are not sure exactly how many nurses have left the profession, but throughout the region Caribbean nurses are being systematically induced to relocate abroad.

Matthew Martinez

“The regional nursing body and the Caribbean Nurses Organisation have noticed that nurses have done research and through their research they have found out that nurses are leaving the Caribbean region en route to the United Kingdom, they are being recruited by agencies from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. Those are just three areas, three countries that are actually recruiting nurses and they are actually recruiting heavily.”

Today the N.A.B. invited health professionals to discuss the challenges and make recommendations. The meeting, held under the theme ?Caribbean Nurses ? Lighting the Way to Professional Excellence,? focused on the recruitment and retention of nursing personnel and the overall improvement in the delivery of health care in Belize.

Matthew Martinez

“I believe that some day something can be worked out for nurses as long as we sit and discuss the issues with the correct personnel in the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Public Service in our government.”

The recommendations formulated at the end of today’s meeting will be compiled and presented to the Minister of Health for consideration. Jacqueline Woods for News 5.

Matthew Martinez is the first male N.A.B. president to be elected since the Nurses Association of Belize was established in 1956.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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