CARICOM Nations are now added to a watch list issued by the Canadian Government and that includes the Turks and Caicos; again this stems from the outbreak of the mosquito borne and sexually transmitted Zika Virus. The Bahamas, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago are among the CARICOM member states named; the Turks and Caicos is named in a separate notice from Public Health Agency of Canada where pregnant women and those considering pregnancy are told they should avoid travel to the Turks and Caicos, among others.
While Zika and its threats are causing serious health concern within these territories for its residents, the Zika Virus is also a major blow to travel to the region. In a PBS News Hour article, the Caribbean Tourism Organization or CTO, Secretary General, Hugh Riley is quoted saying what worries him more than the cancellations is the missed business, ‘That is the unknown number of people who may opt out of booking travel to the Caribbean altogether.”
CARPHA Executive Director, Dr. James Hospedales is also quoted in the piece from February with, “We’re very concerned about it. And it’s hard to avoid the media amplification, even a 2-to-3 percent decline in tourism is a huge blow, especially for countries that are already in debt or whose economies are struggling.”
The article also shared some statistics on the region: ‘The Caribbean is one of the most tourism-dependent regions in the world, it says. Comprised of more than 700 islands spanning 30 territories, the West Indies sees more than 25 million visitors annually and the U.S. is its No. 1 source. About 15 million Americans visit the Caribbean for vacation every year, contributing nearly $50 billion toward the region’s overall GDP.’
According to the Caribbean Public Health Agency or CARPHA, 45 Caribbean and Latin American countries are now reporting Zika. As of August 30, the CARICOM countries were cited in the Canadian travel notice.
Mobile App brings unprecedented access & opportunity to Persons with Disabilities in The Bahamas
#TheBahamas, December 8, 2022 – Opportunities and services previously out of reach for many Persons with Disabilities (PWD’s) in The Bahamas are now easier to access with groundbreaking upgrades to the ‘AccessAbility’ mobile app innovated by the National Commission of Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), through a Bahamian APP developer.
As of January 2023, PWD’s registered on the App will be able to book accessible transportation, allowing unprecedented freedom of movement.
For now, services available on the App include free interpreter services for the deaf and hard of hearing; disaster alerts from NEMA; free registration with NCPD which includes mapped location of registered PWD’s in times of disaster; complaints mechanism; bus routes showing street by street movement ; request for adaptive equipment and other services; business directory for organizations compliant with the Disabilities Act; Career/job listings; as well as trending local and international news and resources.
Financing for the App and the related public education programme was contributed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through its Multi Country Office located in Jamaica which serves The Bahamas among five English-speaking countries in the northern Caribbean. The App is available for free download from Google Play and the App Store and is also preloaded on all new devices purchased from local telecommunications provider Aliv in partnership with NCPD.
At the launch event on Sunday (4 December), Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Philip Davis said that The Bahamas aimed to achieve inclusion and accessibility on a level playing field for persons with disabilities and that the App was one of the means through which this could be achieved. He lauded the services provided through the app and highlighted the accessible transportation, one touch access to emergency services and sign language interpretation.
The Prime Minister announced that the Department of Labour will enable job listings in the AccessAbility app, and further reminded employers of provisions in the Disability Act for the employment of one person with a disability for every 100 employees. “I am asking corporate Bahamas to join the Government in recognizing the potential in persons with disabilities and providing employment opportunities that may never have been considered before,” he said.
Other major disclosures made by the Prime Minister included The Bahamas’ ratification of ILO Convention 159 establishing the right of PWD to vocational rehabilitation and employment opportunities, and the successful implementation of the Nassau Airports Development’s Sunflower Laynard programme offering empathetic and specialized service to travelling PWD’s
Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obediah Wilchcombe, said exclusion of PWD’s over the years has been troubling, but the mobile app will help bring the community closer to realizing inclusion and becoming part of the normalcy of the country. “We are elated and moved. PWD’s are celebrating because we have come a long way and UNDP is helping to make a difference” Minister Wilchcombe stated.
UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio said recognizing that Disability Inclusion is a development issue requires continued attention and investment, UNDP supported the Government’s mission to expand digital inclusion to marginalized groups through the Digital Access for All (DAFA) Bahamas Project, specifically focusing on the AccessAbility Mobile App and public education.
She reiterated UNDP’s commitment to improving ICT infrastructure and digital access with and for PWD’s in The Bahamas; advancing gender equality and the empowerment of PWD’s in The Bahamas and forging partnerships to identify challenges and potential solutions to reduce inequalities against Persons with Disabilities. “It is crucial for governments, public and private sectors, to collaboratively find innovative solutions with and for persons with disabilities, to make the world a more accessible and equitable place,” the Resident Representative noted.
She encouraged Persons with Disabilities to register with the NCPD through the App to ensure they benefit from a wide array of services.
The launch of the AccessAbility mobile app will be immediately followed by a multimedia public education campaign to encourage awareness, downloads, and usage among PWDs.
Technology and digitalization are considered enablers in UNDP’s global service offer of six signature solutions focusing on leaving no one behind. To this end, UNDP partners with countries to develop appropriate digital solutions which help advance poverty eradication, inclusion, equality and crisis resilience. UNDP Multi Country Office in Jamaica serves Jamaica, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands.
Tropical Storm Owen in December?
By Shanieka Smith
December 8, 2022 – A low-pressure system observed in the Central Atlantic Ocean has led the National Hurricane Center to believe there is a 50 per cent chance a subtropical or tropical storm will develop. They reported on Tuesday, the system was 800 miles northeast of the Leeward Islands.
NHC said that by Thursday or Friday, the system should move northeastward, where it will interact with a mid-latitude trough, thereby limiting the chances of development.
The potential subtropical or tropical storm would become the 15th named storm of 2022 and will be called Owen.
Here is the very latest forecast:
Central Subtropical Atlantic
Showers and thunderstorms have increased since last evening near a
subtropical Atlantic about 850 miles east-southeast of Bermuda.
However, the system remains embedded within a frontal zone, which is
expected to become more pronounced later today as the low begins to
move east-northeastward at 20 to 25 mph toward colder waters and
interact with a mid-latitude trough. Therefore, while the system
could show some subtropical characteristics today, its chances to
fully transition to a subtropical or tropical cyclone appear to be
decreasing. Nevertheless, significant non-tropical development of
this low is expected during the next couple of days, and additional
information, including hurricane-force wind warnings, can be found
in High Seas Forecasts issued by the National Weather Service. The
next Special Tropical Weather Outlook on this system will be issued
by 9 AM EST Thursday.
* Formation chance through 48 hours…low…30 percent.
* Formation chance through 5 days…low…30 percent.
Photo Credit: ACCUWEATHER
Jamaica’s PM Andrew Holness goes to Washington to discuss matters to help with crime
By Shanieka Smith
#Jamaica, December 8, 2022 – The Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, travelled to Washington on Tuesday to discuss security matters with various US State Agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department.
Holness said the aim of the meetings is to cut ties between local and overseas criminals and in turn strengthen the country’s crime-fighting efforts.
“I’m serious. If you are overseas and you are sponsoring, directing, and soliciting; if you are financing crime in Jamaica we’re going to get you,” he said.
In a press briefing in early November, the prime minister announced that a State of Emergency (SOE) was issued in seven parishes across the island. Meanwhile, Opposition Leader, Mark Golding has requested that the SOE be extended through to January 14, 2023.
However, a recommendation was made by the non-governmental human rights and justice organization Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) to reject Golding’s extension request.
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