Late Syringa Marshall-Burnett hailed as nation builderFriday, October 24, 2014
PRIME Minister Portia Simpson Miller has hailed late former President of the Senate Syringa Marshall-Burnett as a nation builder who helped significantly to improve the healthcare sector, particularly in the area of nursing.
"I acknowledge on behalf of the Government, and the people of Jamaica, Syringa Marshall-Burnett's decades of contribution to Jamaica and her attainment of the pinnacle of service in her chosen professional calling," the prime minister said.
Simpson Miller who was leading tributes to Marshall-Burnett during the sitting of the House of Representatives on October 21 noted that as a healthcare professional, educator, parliamentarian and social activist Marshall-Burnett "blazed a trail of goodwill not only in Jamaica but across the world."
Simpson Miller further pointed out that in her professional life, as a nurse and nursing educator Marshall-Burnett was the "nurses' nurse, boldly ensuring the professional advancement of her colleagues."
The prime minister noted that persons may not have known Marshall-Burnett for the shrewd and successful negotiator she was, but the Nurses Association of Jamaica, of which she was president several times, "benefited immensely from her sharp negotiating skills."
Simpson Miller also praised the "champion of nursing," for her involvement with the effort to create a university-based nursing education programme in Jamaica.
She pointed out that Marshall-Burnett introduced the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Programme on the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus and its first franchise at the Brown's Town Community College.
Further, to increase the number of young persons entering the nursing profession, Marshall- Burnett participated actively in the expansion of the Kingston School of Nursing and was instrumental in the establishment of the Cornwall School of Nursing, the prime minister said.
Turning to her political contribution, Simpson Miller noted that as Senator and later President of the Senate, Marshall-Burnett raised the bar of parliamentary and political decorum by the fine example she set. "Her parliamentary contributions were profound, and her leadership fair and respected," Simpson Miller said.
She noted that Marshall-Burnett's lifetime record was testimony and proof that "one can give political service and retain your dignity, professionalism and impartiality."
The prime minister said she was deeply saddened by the passing of "one of Jamaica's finest daughters who had been a nation builder in her time and who contributed so much to the development of our country and our people".
In her tribute, Opposition member Olivia Grange said the nation is deeply indebted to Marshall-Burnett, for her contribution to the development of the country.
"We will always remember her as a true patriot, a committed professional, a great friend of the poor, and a great woman who has left a trail of achievements which should be regarded as sign-posts in the struggle of our women to reach the goal of equal opportunity and fair reward," Grange said.
Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson described Marshall-Burnett as "truly a stalwart...and a national icon in the profession of nursing."
He recalled that he worked very closely with the former Senate President, as she was a part of his health Task Force that he led while in Opposition.
Opposition member Derrick Smith and Minister of Labour and Social Security Derrick Kellier also gave tributes.
Marshall-Burnett, who died earlier this month, was the eighth President of the Senate, serving from 1995 to 2007.
She was appointed Senator in 1992, and appointed head of the UWI School of Nursing in 1989.
Up to the time of her passing, she was chairperson of the National Council for Senior Citizens.
For her contribution to the field of nursing, Marshall-Burnett was awarded the Order of Distinction (Commander Class) in 1990, and was appointed a Justice of the Peace.
An academic centre at UWI, the Syringa Marshall-Burnett World Health Collaborating Centre for Nursing and Midwifery Education, was named in her honour.
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