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Veteran health advocate awarded 2013 Public Health Professional Award

Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre and public health consultant Betsy Baillie received top honours at the Ministry of Health’s annual Public Health Awards ceremony.

The presentations were made by Health Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin at the Bermuda Society of Arts at City Hall yesterday.

Members of the public were invited to submit nominations for organisations and individuals who have distinguished themselves and their profession. Key was their contribution in promoting the prevention of non-communicable diseases.

Thirty-five forms were submitted nominating eight organisations and 13 individuals.

Ms Gordon-Pamplin noted that in the 68 years since it was established, the charitable organisation has evolved to provide “state-of-the-art clinical services, education and prevention programmes to continue its support for the community”.

“The charity is committed to the belief that no one should have to forego a recommended screening test because of being uninsured, underinsured or being unable to pay,” said Ms Gordon-Pamplin.

“The charity’s equal access fund covers the full cost of diagnostic tests for those patients who are either uninsured or underinsured so that all important cancer and other health screenings are accessible to all.”

Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre executive director Tara Soares accepted the award on its behalf. She commended Rhonda Smith Simmons for her work as the centre’s education officer.

“It is our vision to provide support for healthier lives in Bermuda and the services that we provide every year are directed at reducing the incidence of cancer in our community,” said Ms Soares.

“We know that one in every three cancers can be prevented completely, so that ties into the work that Rhonda Smith Simmons is out there doing on behalf of the centre every single day.

“We can reduce the incidence of cancer in our community with the great work that Rhonda does and I personally want to thank her very much for the work she has done.”

The late nurse and breast cancer awareness advocate Rachael Andrade was the winner of the Chief Medical Officer Award for 2013.

Meanwhile, Ms Baillie said she was “humbled” by her selection as the recipient of the Public Health Professional Award. Described as a trailblazer, Ms Baillie introduced the Health for Success Programme in schools, which was the predecessor of the current Healthy Schools Programme.

In partnership with the Department of Education, Ms Baillie was credited for developing a nutrition policy for schools. Said Ms Gordon-Pamplin: “She was an unwavering advocated for an integrated approach to the health and wellness of schoolchildren who regularly visited the schools to implement this approach.”

Ms Baillie said: “I’m very humbled to be here, especially when I see the list of nominees. Congratulations to all the nominees, you deserve to be here too.”

Public Health Week ends Friday. The aim this year is to raise public awareness on the risk factors such as cardio vascular disease and other chronic illnesses, associated with hypertension or high blood pressure.

Photo by Glenn Tucker Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre and public health consultant Betsy Baillie (left) received top honours at the Ministry of Health’s annual Public Health Awards ceremony. At right is the Cancer and Health Centre’s executive director Tara Soares.

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Published April 11, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 11, 2013 at 12:15 am)

Veteran health advocate awarded 2013 Public Health Professional Award

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