More than seven months after they were scheduled to arrive in Barbados, close to 100 Ghanaian nurses finally touched down at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA).
At 5:58 p.m. today the aircraft carrying 95 nurses touched the runway and ten minutes later the first set of elated nurses emerged from the plane waving and holding Ghana’s flag.
They were transported by three shuttles to the temporary arrival hall where they greeted Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, newly-installed Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins and Executive Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland, with salutes and elbow bumps.
During a brief press conference moments later, Bostic welcomed the healthcare workers to the island.
The nurses have been contracted to work for two years.
He said while their arrival was a long time in coming, he was glad they had finally landed.
“The first thing I want to do which I think is the most important thing is to say on behalf of the Prime Minister, the Government and indeed the fine people of Barbados to warmly welcome our brothers and sisters from Ghana to Barbados.
“This is a momentous occasion in several ways. In spite of the challenges that would have confronted us over the last several months to get to this point, the moment has finally come and I want to say it is a pleasure,” Bostic said.
He said the nurses would be working at the QEH and Geriatric Hospital as well as several polyclinics across the island.
The Minister said their presence would not only help in the fight against COVID-19, but in delivering quality healthcare service in all aspects.
“You have arrived in Barbados at a very, very opportune time because like you are we are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic…but that is not the only thing we have to deal with as a Ministry of Health.
“We have the remainder of the health care sector to take care of even though we are fighting this battle and your presence here today and certainly when you start to work here in a couple weeks time, would enhance our capacity to deliver the quality healthcare services that we have been doing for years and that we will continue to do,” he said.
The Ghanaian nurses travelled to Barbados on a direct eight-hour flight, and Cummins said it was a significant achievement.
She said for many years Barbados had been in conversation with different countries to negotiate air services agreements and direct airlift.
“Today we were here to welcome the first flight from the Azores and we were able to see our sisters and our brothers coming in from Ghana, eight hours, the same length of time that we take to go to other parts of the world and they are here with us,” she said.
Cummins said alongside the Cuban nurses the Ghanaian nurses would improve the level of service.
Spokeswoman for the nurses, Lorraine A.N. Atopley said the group was happy to finally be in Barbados.
She said they were eagerly looking forward to working hard and looking forward to enjoying their stay on the island.
One of the nurses, Gifty Sesi said she was excited to be here.
“I’m real happy, this is my first time in the Caribbean and we are going to provide the best service we have,” she said.
Atta Konadu Prempeh said they came with the intention of giving of their best.
“I have come to serve and I will give of my best,” he said. [email protected]