The Cayman Islands Seafarers Association and the Health Services Authority have signed an memorandum of understanding to provide scholarships for two Caymanian HSA doctors to complete their postgraduate studies in the field of medicine.

The recipients are Dr. Irka Ebanks, who is studying naturopathy and herbal medicine at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London, and Dr. Lorna Jackson, who is engaged in studies leading to a doctorate in family medicine at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica.

According to a press release, the scholarships provide full funding for the doctors to obtain specialty training overseas for up to four years.

Dr. Ebanks began her three-year course in October 2015 and is expected to graduate in October 2018.

“It has been a real blessing to be awarded a scholarship from the Seafarers Association. I started my studies without the aid of a scholarship or sponsorship and was unsure how I would finish the course,” Dr. Ebanks said in the press release. “It took a lot of dedication to my studies, prayer and patience to qualify, so I was overwhelmed when I received the confirmation email from the Scholarship Secretariat.”

Dr. Jackson expects to complete her doctorate in Family Medicine in May 2019.

“I’m honoured to be selected as a recipient of the Seafarer’s Scholarship, which allows me the opportunity to fulfill my passion of becoming a primary healthcare practitioner,” she said in the release. “I believe a greater focus on primary healthcare assists in the prevention of chronic diseases which so often have a debilitating effect on the people of our society.”

John Douglas, president of the Seafarers Association explained that the association was approached by the Minister of Finance about sponsoring local doctors to become specialists. He said the association members “thought it was a very important initiative to support, and we are very proud to do so.”

The Ministry of Education and the Health Services Authority managed the scholarship application process, along with the interviews before selecting the recipients.

“I am very grateful that the support for training of doctors in specialist areas has been made a priority by the Education Ministry, as this funding is critical for succession planning in the physician services,” said HSA Chief Executive Officer Lizzette Yearwood.

“I would also like to thank the Seafarers Association for their eager acceptance to support improving the quality of healthcare at the HSA, as they have done in the past, and continue to do,” she added.

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