December 3, 2007
Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA), the Hon. Hensley Daniel said the Administration would take responsibility for the continuation of Nevis Eye Care Programme which had benefited the people of Nevis since its conception by Dr. George Bresnick 12 years ago.
Mr. Daniel made the comment at the Old Manor Hotel on November 30, 2007, while he addressed workers of the programme who had come together to bid farewell to Dr. Bresnick. He expressed the NIA’s gratitude to Dr. Bresnick and his team for their contribution to eye care on Nevis and called for Nevisian doctors who specialised in eye care to join the programme.
“Now Dr Bresnick is leaving and what we have to do at the Ministry is to ensure that such a programme, as conceptualised by him and his team, continues not only for the benefit for the people of Nevis but also as a lasting tribute to him. We must make sure that we can marshal the resources abroad that can be of help in a programme like this. We have to ensure that our own doctors become part and parcel of the programme because it would help if Nevisian doctors who are ophthalmologists and what ever specialties there are in the eye care join the programme. “I think the eye care programme is absolutely necessary…I am informed by Dr. Bresnick every year when he comes, he sees an average of 1500 patients. One thousand five hundred persons in a population of 11,000 people represent some 10-12 percent of the population. We in the Ministry have to work with all the partners concerned, to ensure that we continue the programme. I record my thanks to Dr. Bresnick and his team who worked with us in here in Nevis,” he said.
In the interim, the Minister said, the NIA would continue to engage the services of Dr. Ian Walwyn of Antigua and would work towards the institutionalisation of a resident ophthalmologist at the Alexandra Hospital to ensure continuous care.
Mr. Daniel also pointed out the challenges faced by a small country with a low resource base with an inadequate human and financial resource capability. He said even in the face of these challenges, Dr. Bresnick and his team undertook to donate their services at a significantly reduced cost over the years.
“You see Dr. Bresnick coming and we see three more specialists coming and if we were to cost the services per patient, it would mean substantial cost burden on the public. It is in that context that the eye care programme must be understood. The government has sought to develop a programme to enable our patients to get quality care and that is the other challenge we have to bear in mind.
“I think they are happy to be able to help in a low resource country and I believe this gives credence to the view, that when we work devotedly to the good of others we achieve our own enrichment in the process. I believe Dr. Bresnick and his team have been enriched by being here and I believe they feel a part of the Nevisian community. I think over the years we have developed a lasting relationship with the eye care personnel and we owe him a debt of gratitude for his service,” said Mr. Daniel.
Meantime, in response Dr. Bresnick said he was gratified and encouraged to learn of Minister Daniel’s assurance that the eye care programme would continue. He said it would be the only meaningful legacy of the public health oriented programme that he and his team had worked to establish as a self-sustaining programme over the years.
“We will have all the friends we made on Nevis in our hearts forever. The people of Nevis have never been bashful about telling us how much they appreciated our services. I would probably not feel comfortable leaving the programme even now, if I didn’t think it would continue but I am encouraged that it would continue,” he said.
Dr. Bresnick disclosed that the bi-annual eye care programme which took place in April and November on the island would continue to receive the support of his eye care team who would come to Nevis to lend support.
He further disclosed that a non-profit organisation “Vision for All” had been donated US$15,000 worth of medication for every visit (US$30,000 per year) He said donations from pharmaceutical companies who would come to the programme through doctors coming to Nevis to work with the eye care programme.
Dr. Bresnick received a token of appreciation from Secretary for Nevis Eye Care Programme, Miss Donna Jeffers.
The brief but significant ceremony was chaired by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Mrs. Joslyn Liburd. Health Services Administrator, Mr. Kinsley Elliott and Supervisor of Eye Care Programme, Nurse Genievive Daniel who worked with the programme since its inception, delivered brief remarks.
Dr. George Bresnick is expected to leave Nevis on Tuesday December 4, 2007, on his return to Boston, USA.