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  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. 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.
  • Mrs. Simpson Miller was leading tributes to Mrs. Marshall-Burnett, during the sitting of the House of Representatives on October 21.
  • She pointed out that Mrs. 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 Communty College.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. 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.

Mrs. Simpson Miller was leading tributes to Mrs. Marshall-Burnett, during the sitting of the House of Representatives on October 21.

The Prime Minister noted that as a healthcare professional, educator, Parliamentarian and social activist, Mrs. Marshall-Burnett “blazed a trail of goodwill not only in Jamaica but across the world.”

Mrs. Simpson Miller further pointed out that in her professional life, as a nurse and nursing educator, Syringa Marshall-Burnett was the “nurses’ nurse, boldly ensuring the professional advancement of her colleagues.”

The Prime Minister noted that persons may not have known Mrs. 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.”

Mrs. 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 Mrs. 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 Communty College.

Further, to increase the number of young persons entering the nursing profession, Mrs. Marshal- 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, Mrs. Simpson Miller noted that as  Senator  and  later  President  of  the  Senate,  Mrs. 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,”  Mrs. Simpson Miller said.

She noted that Mrs. 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 Mrs. 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,” Miss Grange said.

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, described Mrs. 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, Hon. Derrick Kellier also gave tributes.

Mrs. 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, Mrs. 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.