ST. ROSE MAKES ROOM FOR NEW SLMDA LEADERSHIP!
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.