The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - Joshua St. Aimee have to work hand-in-hand with the min­istry in do­ing that. Our mem­bers are the peo­ple who are work­ing in health­care in

With the Owen KingEuro­pean Union Hos­pi­tal still not fully op­er­a­tional, and the St. Jude re­de­vel­op­ment project near­ing its 10th year, it’s no se­cret that there are many chal­lenges con­fronting the health sec­tor. Last year the Saint Lu­cia Med­i­cal and Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion made head­lines with its con­stant chal­lenges to govern­ment pol­icy de­ci­sions. Now the SLMDA has un­der­gone a mas­sive shake-up.

At the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing last Satur­day, Dr. Merle Clarke was elected pres­i­dent, in place of Dr. Alphonsus St. Rose, who had fronted most of the SLMDA’s pub­lic con­fronta­tions with the Chas­tanet govern­ment. He served from 2017. The full ex­ec­u­tive com­prises Dr.

Leonard Surage (vice pres­i­dent); Dr. Alphonsus St. Rose (im­me­di­ate vice pres­i­dent); Dr. Marisa Ja­cob-Leonce, (sec­re­tary); Dr. Twyla LouisFer­nand, (as­sis­tant sec­re­tary); Dr. Lisa Charles (trea­surer); Dr. Ta­mara Se­mei-Spencer (spe­cial­ists’ rep­re­sen­ta­tive); Dr. Janin Dublin McIn­tyre (den­tists’ rep­re­sen­ta­tive); Dr. Johnoma Gif­fard (ju­nior doc­tors’ rep­re­sen­ta­tive); and Dr. Monique Mon­plaisir (pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer).

Hav­ing served as the vice pres­i­dent on the 2015-2017 ex­ec­u­tive, Clarke said her de­ci­sion to run for pres­i­dent was a sim­ple one. “I do think that we needed some fresh blood for the SLMDA be­cause we’re at a some­what tricky place as it per­tains to health­care in Saint Lu­cia. I was vice pres­i­dent, so I’m aware of what it takes. I felt that I was ready, at this point, to take on the man­tle of lead­er­ship. We do have a fairly young ex­ec­u­tive, lots of fresh new faces and we’re hop­ing to get lots of new ideas out of them and the gen­eral mem­ber­ship.”

Dr. Clarke re­vealed that a ma­jor part of her man­date is pro­vid­ing health ed­u­ca­tion to the pub­lic and en­sur­ing in­di­vid­u­als are liv­ing healthy life­styles. “We need to be pre­vent­ing chronic dis­eases, which are the ma­jor prob­lems that we face,” she said. “I think we are naïve to think that we’ll be able to pay to treat the end-stage prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with those chronic dis­eases. We need to get Saint Lu­cians to un­der­stand we don’t have a choice, and fail­ure is not an op­tion. We need to find a way to get peo­ple to un­der­stand all that needs to be done to en­sure ours is a healthy and pro­gres­sive na­tion.”

As for the new SLMDA ex­ec­u­tive’s re­la­tion­ship with the govern­ment: “Cer­tainly we un­der­stand our role in guid­ing health­care pol­icy, but we do Saint Lu­cia so we do have a very im­por­tant role to play, and we recog­nise that.” The or­ga­ni­za­tion also recog­nises “the ur­gent need to move to the OKEU.”

How does the new pres­i­dent plan to tackle the is­sue of con­sul­ta­tion? Dr. Clarke said that when she served on the pre­vi­ous ex­ec­u­tive there would be quar­terly meet­ings with the health min­istry.

The plan is to con­tinue this ini­tia­tive, and if need be, hold them even more fre­quently. She said: “Rest as­sured this ex­ec­u­tive will make it clear to the au­thor­i­ties that we are the peo­ple on the ground, this is what we’re faced with, and this is what from our per­spec­tive needs to be done. Of course they have their own role in sourc­ing the money, and so on. But we also need to give our per­spec­tive, and we cer­tainly plan to do that.” Out­go­ing pres­i­dent Dr. St. Rose was at press time un­avail­able for com­ment.

Newly elected pres­i­dent, Dr. Merle Clarke, will lead a fresh-faced ex­ec­u­tive for the two-year ten­ure.

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