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There are few associations in Barbados with the clout of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) or the Barbados Bar Association.
These are as powerful as they come as advocacy and lobby groups.
They are the organisations looking after the professional interests of two traditional professions which have commanded widespread respect and are considered at the top of the queue in terms of influence, money, and prestige.
Over the years they have both built up good reputations and therefore are held in high esteem.The society needs medical doctors and lawyers. Some of the members of either organisation have excelled in their fields of endeavour and through continuous education can be described as leaders in their areas of expertise.
After all these years of existence, both BAMP and the Bar Association have remained special interest groups which take strong public positions on matters which affect their members. But as organisations comprising of men and women, they are fallible. Neither has seen the need to establish a foundation. This seems to be a weakness, indeed a major gap, for such powerful institutions.
Foundations are now the philanthropic arms of such distinguished groupings which can reach out in a way neither BAMP nor the Bar Association is expected to do in the wider society.
What we heard Dr Carlos Chase defend and articulate as BAMP’s president at the time and the issues the current president Dr Abdon DaSilva speaks to in an equally passionate manner are not issues that would fall under the same objectives and goals of a foundation.
There should be no belief that the Arnott Cato Foundation is there and can suffice or, indeed, the continuing education done under the name of the distinguished retired practitioner Sir Errol Walrond.
BAMP needs to have a foundation to develop relevant and worthwhile partnerships in the wider community, attracting grants and donations. The grants and donations could naturally come from the wealthy retired and active members of BAMP, as well as corporate citizens and even individuals.
Such grants would be awarded to medical doctors and research scientists and redound to the benefit of health care in Barbados. This would tie in with the objectives of the University of the West Indies, the Chronic Disease Research Centre and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
This is not about shifting BAMP’s fees to fund its foundation.
While the Bar Association will hold continuing education programmes or work with the Law Faculty at the Cave Hill Campus, there is a glaring need for a foundation which ought to do more than what the association was established to do in the 1940s. It is about giving back to the society which has enabled some in that professional to be very financially independent.
There are issues which a foundation could champion, whether it is the fight against domestic violence or in strengthening the good work that Faith Marshall-Harris does as a children’s rights advocate. There are issues related to our children which need to be championed, ranging from bullying to those who can end up in Dodds (boys) and Summerville (girls), as well as a plethora of human rights matters which need legal intervention.
Of course, a foundation dedicated to the medical profession or the legal one should also award their outstanding members for positively impacting and improving the society. Many who do so go unnoticed and unrecognised. (ES)