Montego Bay, Jamaica, January 23, 2017 – For the past six years, the New Jersey-based Diaspora charity, Jamaicans Abroad Helping Jamaicans At Home (JAHJAH), has been quietly carving out a legacy of service in health care in communities across Jamaica. Whether it is providing free medical treatment to needy persons, donating equipment and supplies to public hospitals and health centres or the sharing of expertise with local health professionals, JAHJAH has been impacting lives, while contributing to the country’s development.
JAHJAH founder, Dr. Trevor Dixon, a Jamaican-born physician who lives and practices in the United States (US), told JIS News that it has been “a very satisfying journey knowing that I am giving back to my country. We have had our fair share of hiccups along the way but at no time did I ever feel like abandoning the cause. It is called service above self and I am very happy that JAHJAH is in a position where it can indeed make a difference,” he said at a health fair at the Ulster Spring Health Centre in Trelawny on January 19.
The team of 25 doctors, most of whom left the island today (Jan.23) after a nine-day medical mission, conducted clinics and health fairs in communities in Kingston, St. James and Trelawny, providing service in areas such as dentistry, gynecology, pediatrics, internal medicine and emergency medicine. In addition to the provision of health services, the team carried out a number of projects, including hosting Jamaica’s first ever trauma conference at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on January 20 and 21.
The team also visited schools to carry out echocardiogram (ECG) tests to check for problems with the electrical activity of the heart. “We conducted tests on young student athletes, who may unknowingly be suffering from underlying conditions that could result in death,” Dr. Dixon told JIS News. Some 100 students also benefited from basic check-ups as well as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training. Dr. Dixon said the team of health care and medical professionals, who practise in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, also shared best practices with their local counterparts.
Meanwhile, scores of persons benefited from the health fair held at the Ulster Spring clinic. “There are quite a number of persons from neighboring communities that are here today,” Dr. Dixon noted. “We were here last year and had a really good time and so we are back. A lot of these people would not be able to afford the service we are providing, so we are truly touched and humbled that we can indeed make a difference,” he added.
Dr. Dixon said his organisation’s main goal is to help improve the quality of health care that is delivered at public hospitals and health centres in Jamaica. “We are also committed to assisting with improving education in Jamaica. As our name suggests, we are about partnerships with Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica overseas to execute our mission on the ground in Jamaica,” he told JIS News, noting that the JAHJAH has an excellent relationship with the Ministry of Health. “In doing what we do, our medical missions invariably return home feeling that they received more than they gave,” Mr. Dixon pointed out.
He said the entity has been lobbying other members of the Diaspora to give back to their country of birth. “It is indeed a fact that some of our brighter minds are plying their trade overseas and doing very well in many cases. It is time for those who have left Jamaica to look back and give a helping hand. No one knows what the future holds, so a better Jamaica can only be best for all of us,” he pointed out. Dr. Dixon thanked all those who support the work of the JAHJAH.
Photo Credit: Columbia University
Education Minister announces Platinum Partnerships for internet and tablet program amidst COVID surge
By Shaniek Smith
#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – Schools did not resume in person learning in the Turks and Caicos on January 4, instead it was back to virtual classes for 7,400 children in the British overseas territory due to an omicron-driven surge in Covid-19 infections.
It was announced on the New Year’s Day holiday for TCI, January 3 in a press conference hosted by Rachel Taylor, the Minister of Education, and attended by Jamell Robinson, Minister of Health and supported by Premier Washington Misick, who was also at the live event.
In a promised update, parents got the not-so-good-news, virtual classes would resume at least until the end of January due to the surge and staff shortages being experienced. Turks and Caicos, up to Thursday January 14 had over 800 active cases, five new deaths and a 600 per cent increase in hospitalisations. The Minister said the decision was in the interest of safety.
The Minister also promised to get devices and internet to students in order for them to participate in learning during this virtual-only season. The press conference on January 13, welcomed partners Flow, Digicel and the Pine Cay Project.
In her address, chair of the Pine Cay Project, Marie Landel, said that an urgent call from Dr. Carlton Mills, a member of their board of trustees revealed that about 750 students would be without internet connection and devices.
The Pine Cay Project responded to that information and has agreed to pay for internet for 30 days students, with its partner in the initiative, DigicelTCI. It is an $18,000 investment in education continuity for hundreds of children.
“We had strong discussions on what we should do with the money that we collect every year, so yesterday we agreed to the funding in emergency situation of 300 internet connections and devices that are going to help the students in need, and we’re very proud to be able to act quickly,” Landel expressed.
Additionally, the Marketing Manager at Digicel TCI, Mr Drexler Smith, said Digicel has partnered with the Ministry of Education to provide about 1,000 tablets for public schools. Smith added that 75 MiFi devices valued at 7,000 dollars were provided; they come with free data services for up to three months for students in need.
Digicel has also created a special education plan for e-learning with specific zero-rated sites and applications. The company partnered with Pine Cay and other private entities in this regard. Various schools and educational facilities in South Caicos, Five Cays, and Providenciales have benefitted from laptops, data plans, MiFi’s, and e-learning kits.
Marketing Executive Flow TCI, Darron Hilaire, also shared the contributions Flow made to the education sector since the pandemic.
“Within the last three years, Flow TCI, through our charitable foundation, would have donated $130,000 worth of ICT equipment to 2 schools respectively in Grand Turk and in Providenciales for the outfitting of the new computer labs to help facilitate the ministry’s vision to foster an efficient e-learning environment for students,” he said.
Mr. Hilaire added that within the first year of the pandemic, Flow responded to requests from the Ministry to increase the bandwidth to public schools in the TCI. Hilaire said Flow home internet speed doubles automatically at no cost to its customers in early July.
He said that within the last 60 days, Flow TCI announced a recent donation of $25,000 dollars to two schools in North Caicos and one in Providenciales. The donation was in aid of increasing connectivity and infrastructural upgrades.
“As we come to the end of this phase of the project, our objective is to look at doing the same for other schools in the second phase of the projects to further arm our schools with the access to technology to provide the best quality education to students,” Hilaire added.
Amanyara Resort, not present at the press event, was said to be working on additional laptops for hundreds of children despite having already donated to several schools in Providenciales.
Minister Rachel Taylor and her team, including Eugene Grant, ICT Education Officer at the Ministry of Education and Mark Garland, Deputy Director of Education thanked the donors; they were labelled Platinum Partners by the Minister.
Over 5000 COVID cases on Cruises, CDC investigations launched
By Dana Malcolm
#January 15, 2022 – Cruises have continued across the Americas despite the US Centers for Disease Control dire warning that even vaccinated individuals should be wary of them. Now the CDC informs that Coronavirus cases have been reported on every cruise ship sailing with passengers in U.S. waters.
According to the CDC, all 92 ships with passengers have met the threshold for investigation by the public health agency. In every case, the CDC has either started an investigation or has investigated.
The CDC warned travellers including those who are vaccinated to avoid cruising in December, following the announcement videos surfaced of jam-packed cruise ships with unmasked passengers ringing in the New Year.
Meanwhile, Grand Turk is still welcoming cruise ships. Eleven cruise ships are scheduled to dock at the Grand Turk Cruise Center throughout January, according to the port schedule.
Jamell Robinson, TCI Minister of Health has confirmed that ships have been allowed to dock in Grand Turk with positive COVID cases on board.
He said. “Now in each ship there are stations or places for isolation on board…Just because a vessel has people with Covid-19 on it doesn’t necessarily mean we wouldn’t allow them to disembark.”
The minister explained the number of positive cases recorded on cruise ships that had arrived in Grand Turk was .001 per cent of all guests and they were not allowed to disembark.
So far, Turks and Caicos has turned away at least one cruise liner due to fears of COVID exposure in the capital, which has gone from a handful of active cases to now 111, as of January 14.
The US Centers for Disease Control reported on Tuesday that COVID-19 cases on cruise ships have increased to 30 times what they were in mid-December.
New York, US Epicenter for Omicron “turning the corner”
By Shanieka Smith
#USA, January 15, 2022 – Today, New York is seeing a downward trend in Covid-19 cases, as officials revealed, “we are turning the corner” on Friday in updating on the state of affairs in the city, labelled the epicenter of omicron for the United States.
Before, data from the New York State Department of Health showed that the number of new coronavirus infections per 100,000 vaccinated residents in the State, rose from 29.8 in the first week of December to 222.3 last week. Also, the rate of new cases in unvaccinated adults rose from 239.6 to 1,583.1 per 100,000.
New York is a key source market for the Turks and Caicos and much of the Caribbean, which is heavily reliant upon winter travellers. The data showed, too, that vaccine effectiveness against severe infection remained high.
Only 4.59 fully vaccinated adults out of 100,000 were hospitalised with COVID-19 in the week of December 27. However, that number increased, and the hospitalisation rate for the unvaccinated is nearly 13 times higher.
New York’s rolling positivity rate fell below 20% in recent days, but media reports indicate the death toll in the State hit a startling high of 195 for the first time since the mass vaccination rollout.
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