The organisation established nearly 60 years ago to help improve the Barbadian family is itself facing a major dysfunction.
President of the Barbados Family Planning Association, Jefferson Kirton, has gone public with concerns about what he called “inconsistent and poor attendance” of directors at meetings over the past year.
And while not identifying them by name or organisation, the board head reported difficulty getting the required quorum of six members out of the overall 21 member body to attend such discussions, forcing their abandonment on a number of occasions.
“Of particular concern to me over the past year, is the lack of commitment by board members to the organisation, evident by their inconsistent and poor attendance at the monthly meetings,” Kirton complained in his “message” carried in the BFPA’s newly-released 2012 annual report.
“Far too often, scheduled board meetings have had to be aborted or deferred for lack of a quorum. We appreciate the fact that members are busy as some members also belong to other organisations, but a committed and active board is critical to the effective success of any organisation.
“This renews the fact that the association has to seriously embark upon a membership drive in an effort to enlist new members if this worthwhile organisation is to continue on for another 60 years.
“It is even more urgent since some changes to the present constitution will not allow many of its present members to serve on the board after 15 years of service. Many members are doing in excess of 20,” he added.
The BFPA’s board of directors for the period 2012 to 2014 includes Kirton, Second Vice President Dr. Opal Gibson, Second Vice President Keith Seale, Third Vice President Latoya Lane, Hononary Secretary Moretta Worrell-Best, Honorary Treasurer Reverend Hughson Inniss, Public Relations Office Barton Green, and three floor members — Kendal Ince, Professor Christine Barrow — and a representative for the Youth Advocacy Movement.
There are also ex officio board members representing the Pharmaceutical Association, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Child Care Board, the Barbados National Council of Parent-Teacher Associations, Barbados Nurses Association Inc., Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners, Barbados Council for the Disabled, Barbados Youth Development Council, Barbados Workers Union, and National Men’s Health Association.
Beyond his worries about the functioning of the board which he heads, Kirton also said he was disappointed with “the unsuccessful attempts at attracting the attention of corporate Barbados”.
“It is ironic that we do quite a lot of business with the major health businesses in Barbados but yet we are unable to persuade them enough to support the Family Planning Association with any meaningful donations to assist us in the replacement of our ageing equipment and with repairs to the plant,” he said.
Nevertheless, we remain positive and encouraged that we are doing the best we can at ensuring that reproductive health services are accessible to all who are in need of such services. We believe that without the intervention of this noble organisation, we as Barbadians would not be enjoying the quality of life which we enjoy today.”
Kirton also said because of the continuing “dire economic situation” his organisation was “forced” to “alter some of its programmes in an effort to meet the challenges head on”.
But he added that “while we have not suspended any of these programmes, some changes had to be made due to the reduction in staffing levels we were forced into as a result of the reduction in financial support over the past two years”.
He also said that “in spite of the many challenges we faced over the past year, the BFPA has managed to survive…, showing growth in some areas, over the previous year”. (SC)