The Cayman Islands Seafarers Association will sponsor two Caymanian doctors over the next four years as they train to become specialists.
Two qualified Caymanian doctors will be selected to receive a scholarship of $60,000 a year for four years of training. Scholarship recipients will agree to return to the Cayman Islands to work for the Health Services Authority after their training, the Seafarers Association said.
The association presented a check to Health Services Authority officials at a press conference Monday, which was also attended by Premier Alden McLaughlin, Education Minister Tara Rivers and Finance Minister Marco Archer.
“There are many Caymanian doctors, but we’re in danger of not having enough specialists and having to rely on specialists overseas,” Mr. Archer said.
He said that conversations with various healthcare professionals made him realize the need to provide more support to individuals who wish to become specialist physicians, but that the budget would not allow the government to provide that support in 2015 or 2016.
He approached the Seafarers Association with the idea to provide the scholarship, since the association has provided significant financial support to the Health Services Authority in the past.
Seafarers Association Treasurer Leonard Ebanks said that in the three years that he has been treasurer, the association has donated at least $100,000 to the Health Services Authority, primarily for purchasing equipment. One piece of equipment funded by the association, for example, is a telemedicine robot which allows specialist doctors abroad to remotely diagnose patients in the Cayman Islands.
Mr. Ebanks said the new scholarship will help to ensure that Cayman Islands residents can receive specialist treatment at home, rather than having to go overseas.
“It was a very easy decision for us to make, as we’re conscious of the fact that the government provides healthcare for seamen,” Mr. Ebanks said.
“We think this is an excellent way [of] giving back and paying it forward.”
Health Services Authority CEO Lizzette Yearwood said the scholarship will help fill areas of need, such as pathology, neurology and oncology.
Elizabeth McLaughlin, acting chief medical officer with the Ministry of Health, added that radiology, especially interventional radiology, is another area that requires more specialists.
“Specialization is necessary for all physicians, but it is also important for the development of healthcare in the country,” Ms. McLaughlin said. “And there is something very gratifying about treating your own people and being treated by your own people.”
Ms. Yearwood said about 15 Caymanian doctors are eligible for the scholarship. The application process opens this week, and a committee will interview and deliberate on the candidates over the next four weeks.
Mr. Archer said the government will establish a scholarship fund in the next budget to provide funds to doctors to receive specialist training.