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Belize Celebrates Nurses Week

May 12 is recognized as International Nurses’ Day, an event on the national calendar which concludes Nurses’ Week here in Belize. The day is set aside each year to mark the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. Reporter Vejea Alvarez tells us more.

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: Today nurses across the globe are celebrated for their unwavering supports and contribution to the healthcare system. They’re described as the superheroes without capes that kept us going during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lizett Bell, Chief Nursing Officer at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, says they are truly the backbone of a nation’s health.

Lizett Bell, Chief Nursing Officer, Ministry of Health and Wellness: “The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that nurses play a significant role in healthcare, and without them, accessibility to quality care can be jeopardized. We must recognize the nurses’ efforts and their heroic commitment to the people of this country. Many were tired, overworked, underpaid, and managing their own personal issues. Yet, they showed up to work to provide care for those in need. Nurses are the heart and the backbone of health. They responded to the unknown when many shied away with fears.” 

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: Nurses’ Week runs from May 6 to the 12, a time that president of the Nurses’ Association of Belize, Darrell Spencer, says should be used to highlight the work of nurses.

Darrell Spencer, President, Nurses’ Association of Belize: “I think it’s a week that should be more focused on exposing to show what it is that a nurse actually does, to show the appreciation that we give back to the people as we serve, to show that love and passion that we have for our jobs. That is what we’re celebrating actually. From a nurse’s standpoint, most of us are satisfied with a simple thank you.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: But despite not always receiving the gratitude they deserve, Spencer says that nurses like him take great pride and joy in helping to save lives.

Darrell Spencer, President, Nurses’ Association of Belize: “When I see a patient or a past patient on the street doing good even though they don’t recognize me or I may not recognize, you know, that is a good feeling for us, for many of us, most of us, to see that person that would have once been lost or may not have faired out as positively. To see that person back out in society and recovered and doing good, that is the thanks we get from doing what we do, and that is what we want to celebrate. To have the nurses keep up the great job that they’re doing, they’ve always been done, and hope that they continue doing the same.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: There’s a worldwide shortage of nurses that, according to Bell, led the Ministry to increase its investments in the field. She said that this year the Ministry hired 74 new nurses and is looking to offer more scholarships in the important field.

Lizett Bell, Chief Nursing Officer, Ministry of Health and Wellness: “This Nurses’ Week, we take some time to also highlight the recent investments in nursing. For the fiscal year 2021-2022, the Ministry of Health and Wellness invested in nursing education through scholarship opportunities at the Bachelors’ degree level and Certificate in Practical Nursing, also in Specializations of Midwifery and Operating Room Nursing. Not only focusing on nursing education, but also on nursing practice due to the shortage of nurses.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: This year’s celebration is being held under the theme “Nurses: A voice to lead. Invest in nursing and respect rights to secure global health.” Reporting for Love News, I am Vejea Alvarez.