June 17, 2013

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How can a nurse be a threat to a national government? Ask those who know Kallooa Bagooaduth, MSc, BSc, PG Dip. RN, the president of the Nursing Association of the tiny nation of Mauritius, or who heard him speak at the International Council of Nurses meeting in Melbourne, Australia, in May.

Bagooaduth was a panelist in a symposium developed by the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College. CHMP’s co-director Barbara Glickstein was another panelist who spoke about our work at the Center, and Diana Mason moderated the panel. They were joined by Eric Chan, the Principal Nursing Officer of the Hong Kong Hospital Authority in Hong Kong  and former Interim Nurse Scientist at the World Health Organization. More on Dr. Chan later.

Bagooaduth is a charge nurse at a hospital in Mauritius. Four years ago, he attended the quadrennial meeting of the International Council of Nurses and was inspired to get more involved in his country’s own health and nursing policies and advocacy. He ran for the presidency of the Mauritius Nursing Association and won.  Since that time, he has led the association in ways that have garnered public attention and made national policymakers nervous.

The Mauritius Nursing Association had not been visible as an advocate for the profession, nor for the public’s health. Over the past four years, Bagooaduth has led the association in developing an agenda for improving the working conditions for nurses in the country, as well as for promoting access to crucial health care services, such as abortion.

At the Melbourne conference, he discussed some of the accomplishments that were an outgrowth of using the media to get issues on the agenda of the public and policymakers, leading protests, and advocating for improving the health of the people:

Changing the requirement for the basic education of nurses from a certificate to diploma.

  • Reducing discrimination against female Nurses in pay and promotion criteria.
  • Improving nurses’ living conditions.
  • Improving the physical plant of hospitals.
  • Amending an 1893 law to decriminalize abortions in certain cases.

His advice to the audience:

  • provide information to the press that has real news value
  • be credible
  • be trustworthy
  • be available
  • speak in the public’s interest
  • be bold

He certainly exemplifies this last piece of advice. As one source who spoke off-the-record with us at the meeting, “Kallooa is not very popular with the government. I worry for his safety.”

We wish Kallooa Bagooaduth a long life of bold leadership. At the Melbourne meeting, the Maurtitius Nurses Association recieved ICN’s 2013 National Nursing Association Innovation Award and Bagooaduth was elected to Vice President of the Board of Directors of ICN. We expect he’ll be its president one day.

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Barbara Glickstein, RN, MS, MPH, and Diana Mason, RN, PhD, FAAN, Co-Directors, CHMP