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Sunday, 19 January 2014

BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY : AFRO-BRITISH " DAME KARLENE DAVIS " A LADY WHO GAVE HER LIFE TO NURSING AND LOOKING FTER FELLOW HUMAN BEING : GOES INTO THE " HALL OF BLACK GENIUS "

                                                                                                                                                                                     
Dame Karlene Davis relaxing at her  in Kingston. - photos by Sacha Walters
One thing Dame Karlene Davis, a Jamaican living in the United Kingdom (UK), learnt early in life was that she wanted to be a leader.
Growing up, she dreamt of becoming a lawyer, then a doctor, but none of the professions stuck. It was nursing, specifically midwifery, that pulled her in.
At 62 and recently retired, the teacher/nurse/midwife/ unionist is happy with her achievements, especially the fact that she remained faithful to leadership.
Seven years ago she was featured in Flair Magazine when she received the title dame in the UK for her contribution to health, an honour which, she explained, is equivalent to knighthood for men.
This time she was in Jamaica to receive an honorary doctorate, on November 8, from the University of the West Indies.
Focused on
"Over the years, my career has been focused on keeping midwifery as a sustainable and prominent profession," Davis said, of the job which, in the UK, is legally older than nursing. "The need for that (midwifery) is to ensure that women have the best experience during birth. I mean, it's an experience that's not only physical but emotional and social."
Some of her notable achievements include working at the Regional Health Authority in the UK on policy, as well as managing the educational for nurses and midwives.
"I became really interested in policy because you know you can teach but if you can't influence how services develop you're sort of a non-starter," she said.
Additionally, she was a deputy, then general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, which campaigned for regulation of the profession. It ensured that women from the UK had educated  taking care of them. The college also regulates the relationship between employees and employers.
She also served as president of the International Confederation of Midwives, which encompasses midwives all over the world.
But for Davis, practising midwifery was just as fulfilling.
"Once I did midwifery I realised it was the job for me because it's really looking after people at a very special time in their lives when they're healthy. It's quite different to care for the sick," she said.
While she hasn't kept track of the number of babies she has delivered over the years, she knows there are many. However, she does remember the first child she delivered.
"It was a little girl," she said with a smile. Ultrasound examinations were not popular at the time, she explained, so many parents were anxious to know the sex of the child, which added to the experience.
Very emotional
"You care for the woman observing her during the labour process. It's a very emotional conclusion because the parents are excited and, of course, that trickles down to the midwife," said Davis, a wife and mother of one.
While she has retired from her job, Davis is merely slowing down. She wants to be part of a pay review body or mentor young black professionals.