Miss Eileen Barbaro has been recognized as the mother of nursing in Myanmar. Even at the age of 83 years, she has exhibited her commitment and demonstrated leadership towards nursing development for better health of mankind. She has dedicated herself for more than 60 years to develop pediatric nursing, upgrade nursing education, improve quality of nursing service and enhance nursing profession. Her outstanding efforts and achievements have been appreciated and acknowledged by the national and international community.
Miss Barbaro holds a nursing certificate from Myanmar and a midwifery certificate from England. She also is licensed as a registered nurse and registered midwife in England and Wales. She began practicing nursing as a staff nurse in Yangon Children’s Hospital, the first children’s hospital in Myanmar. Four years later, she was promoted to head nurse and then became the Hospital’s Director of Nursing Service. After 40 years of government service, Miss Barbaro retired but continued to advance nursing and midwifery while serving as President of the Myanmar Nursing and Midwifery Association for 20 years and as the Director of a Home-Based Care Program for 8 years. Although she is no longer actively employed, Miss Barbaro continues to provide advice and support to nurses and midwives, who are experiencing work-related difficulties, as well as provides support and care for her neighbors.
Miss Barbaro has been recognized and well accepted, both nationally and internationally, throughout the nursing community and by pediatricians as a leader and visionary who has consistently sought to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare for sick children. She developed and implemented nursing care standards to meet the needs of children with respect to infection control, prematurity, emergency and intensive care admissions, as well as encouraged the participation of mothers in the care of their children during hospitalization. Miss Barbaro’s efforts lead to development and implementation of pediatric nurse specialists to provide nursing care to sick babies and infants, as well as to their parents and siblings. She also initiated the establishment of a nine month pediatric nursing program for nursing staff and undergraduate nursing students. Her actions resulted in the role of Myanmar’s nurses being accepted by the physicians’ and people of Myanmar.
As an active advocate for advanced nursing, Miss Barbaro laid a strong foundation for nursing education in Myanmar. She successfully convinced the Japanese to help build a nurse training center in Yangon. Her efforts lead to the nurse training center being completed, from which a nursing diploma program was developed and implemented. However, Miss Barbaro was not satisfied with only offering a diploma program. Rather, her aim was to have a higher nursing education program. Thus, she organized a small group of senior nursing personnel and initiated a successful undertaking to develop and implement a nursing education program at the University level. This led to the upgrading, with funding support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, of the nurses’ training center to University status. Today, the nursing training center that Miss Barbaro envisioned and worked to achieve is the University of Nursing, Yangon. The university has been recognized by South-East Asia Regional Office of the World Health Organization for its’ support of the development of nursing and midwifery in Myanmar and South East Asia, and declared to be a World Health Organization collaboration center.
During her time as President of the Myanmar Nursing and Midwifery Association, Miss Barbaro organized the nurses into a recognized “Non-Government Organization” that later became a member of the International Council of Nurses. Her efforts also lead to the government granting the association office space to conduct their association-related matters. In addition, she convinced the association to organize and sponsor a “Retired Nurses’ Day” and a “Paying Homage Ceremony” that have become traditional events. Miss Barbaro’s commitment to enhancing her fellow nurses’ personal development lead to her teaching English classes and encouraging the nurses to participate in physical fitness activities. In addition, she acquired land and foreign financial assistance for a “Nursing Complex” so elderly nurses, who had given their time serving the community, would have a peaceful resting place upon their retirement. Currently, some of the retired nurses who live within the complex provide maternal and child care services with the younger nurses who are working in the community.
Miss Barbaro’s commitment to the improvement of the health of mothers and children was most evident when she initiated a drive, to build a “Maternity Shelter” for destitute pregnant women. The shelter now is fully operational and staffed by three full-time midwives, with some 30-50 babies delivered each month. The pregnant women are admitted via a cost sharing system that she encouraged. In addition, she successful established community Home-Based Care Program within 35 townships in Myanmar. The program has been as recognized as improving the health of the community, as well as facilitating the employment of nurses.
Miss Barbaro’s lifelong dedication to nursing, midwifery and her fellow man lead to the creation of the “Eileen Barbaro Award” to honor outstanding nurses and midwives, so as to strengthen their prestige in the community. Moreover, she has personally raised 20 abandoned infants as her own so as to provide them a better life, education, health and social well-being. Although most of the children now are living on their own, she still has six children living with her for whom she provides care, guidance and parentening.
Miss Barbaro’s sincere and untiring commitment to nursing and midwifery has lead to her being acknowledged as the mother of Myanmar Nursing and Midwifery. Because of her vision and effort in developing nursing and midwifery in Myanmar, she was appointed as a consultating member of South-East Asia Regional Office of the World Health Organization. In 1997, Miss Barbaro, as one of the most outstanding persons in social obligation (First Level Outstanding), received Outstanding Social Award from the State Peace and Development Council of Myanmar.
She truly has made significant and valuable contributions to the development of nursing and midwifery, and to the improved health of women and children, throughout Myanmar. Therefore, the committee of the Princess Srinagarindra Award Foundation, under the Royal Patronage, has resolved to present Miss Eileen Barbaro the Princess Srinagarindra Award for the year 2012.
Miss Eileen Barbaro