Above: A nursing student facilitating a training session as part of leadership development Below: Nurses and educators pause for a photo outside the UWI School of Nursing in Trinidad.

Bridgetown, Barbados, February 01, 2019 – Twenty-seven nurses drawn from five countries across the region have all successfully completed specialised training in the care of children with cancer and other blood disorders.

The nurses all successfully completed the Paediatric Haematology/Oncology Nursing Diploma Programme at the University of the West Indies School of Nursing in Trinidad, with the last cohort finishing last April.

Twenty-six of the 27 nurses from Barbados, The Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who completed the specialised one-year programme, were part of SickKids-Caribbean Initiative.

In 2013, with the support of SickKids Foundation the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative (SCI), a partnership with the University of the West Indies (UWI), Ministries of Health, hospitals and institutions in six Caribbean countries was established. This partnership focuses on building sustainable local capacity to diagnose, treat, and manage paediatric cancers and blood disorders.

Regional bank CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank also came on board with the initiative pledging USD$1 million over a seven-year period (2014 – 2020) through its charitable arm, FirstCaribbean International Comtrust Foundation. As nurse training partner, the bank funded the full training for all but one of the 27 nurses.    

“We are truly proud to be a partner with SCI and to support the life-changing work they have been doing across the region to ensure that hundreds of children diagnosed with cancers or blood disorders have access to the very best care delivered by trained professionals,” said Colette Delaney, Chair of the FirstCaribbean International ComTrust Foundation and Chief Executive Officer of CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank.

“The work of the dedicated doctors and nurses of SCI have greatly improved the outcomes and enhanced the quality of care and quality of life for so many of our most vulnerable citizens – our children,” Ms. Delaney added.

Officials of SickKids recently paid a courtesy call on Ms. Delaney where they updated her on the great strides which have been made in the treatment and management of paediatric cancer cases across the region.

To date the SCI has significantly improved the diagnosis and care of scores of children across the region. In Jamaica and St. Lucia alone 57, 790 newborn sickle cell disease screening tests were conducted.

In addition, seven telemedicine centres were established, 302 consultations have taken place, 179 specialized diagnostic tests were done on patients newly diagnosed with leukemia, 528 patients were registered in local oncology databases, 21 lectures held on the work of SCI and three doctors trained under the Haematology/Oncology fellowship programme.

The initiative has also added to the library of regional medical literature and resources with the completion of five supportive care guidelines and five clinical care guidelines documents. Seven custom built local data bases were established in SCI partner hospitals to record and track patients and seven local data managers hired and trained in those territories.