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Regional Experts Lay Groundwork for Unified Response to Vector-Borne Diseases

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Trinidad and Tobago, March 24, 2017 – Port of Spain – Every year, thousands of people in the Caribbean experience food-borne illnesses, after exposure to contaminated food or drink. Persons affected usually experience severe diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain, sometimes accompanied by fever, headaches and other symptoms.   Recent increases in reported incidents of foodborne diseases (FBDs), have now made this common health issue a regional priority.

Dr Bernadette Theodore-Gandi, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Representative for Trinidad and Tobago, in her opening address to participants at the four-day Sub Regional Workshop on Strengthening Food-borne Disease Surveillance in the Caribbean, indicated that food safety is a global priority and that PAHO/ WHO recommends the farm to table approach, linking the processes from food production, distribution and consumption to reduce food-borne illnesses in the Region.

Dr Karen Polson-Edwards, Acting Director of the Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control Division at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), informed participants that statistics show that food-borne illness is one of the most common and increasing public health issues. However, ensuring the safe supply of food in the Caribbean was a complex challenge given the vast differences in countries and the Region’s heavy reliance on tourism and food importation. She also noted that the prevention of food-borne diseases is one of the many priorities of CARPHA, as the Caribbean relies heavily on income gained from the tourism sector which accounts for 25-65% of the gross domestic products in most countries.

Dr. Lisa Indar, Head of the Tourism and Health programme and Foodborne Diseases Lead at CARPHA, emphasised that unsafe food can lead to outbreaks of food-borne illness that can have serious health, economic, reputational implications for the region’s tourism dependant economies and adversely affect the influx of visitors to the Region. She highlighted that since 2003, CARPHA and PAHO have been working together to reduce foodborne diseases, and the workshop is part of continued efforts to ensure that the region is equipped to adequately prevent and combat FBDs and boost tourism sustainability.

Mr Neil Rampersad, Chief Public Health Inspector (Ag) for Trinidad and Tobago, in his feature address remarked that foodborne illnesses can severely eat into a nation’s health budget and adversely affects both young and mature. Additionally, the costliness of foodborne illnesses not only includes costs for medication and treatment, but also involves downtime in productivity.  He said that the workshop was a welcomed strategy to develop national and regional action plans to combat FBD outbreaks.

Participants at the workshop will use the WHO Food-borne Disease Surveillance Manual to individually assess their country’s current ability to combat and prevent FBDs. They will also create action plans to identify areas of priority for national surveillance and the resources required to enhance food safety.

The Workshop was hosted by CARPHA in collaboration with PAHO/WHO from March 21st – 24th , at the Trinidad Hilton and Conference Centre. Multi-sectoral participants from health, and environment, representing both the English and Dutch speaking Caribbean territories developed plans to strengthen national integrated FBD surveillance programmes and food safety intervention.

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Press Release: CARPHA

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Bahamas News

Bahamas as Caribbean top 2024 Spring Destination

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

#Bahamas#Tourism, February 23rd, 2024 – The Bahamas has been categorized as the most popular Caribbean destination for travel in the upcoming spring season by travel insurance company Squaremouth, in a new report. It was the only Caribbean nation to make the list for the top 10 destinations. The report is derived from travel insurance purchases made through Squaremouth.

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Bahamas News

Regional Soldiers head to Jamaica to train for pending Haiti mission

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Rashaed Esson

Staff  Writer

 

#Haiti#KenyaMultinationalForce#CARICOM, February 22nd, 2024 – About 150 Bahamian soldiers are heading to Jamaica within the next one or two weeks for a joint training with Jamaican soldiers, in preparation for the pending Kenya led multinational force mission to Haiti according to Bahamian Defense Chief Commodore, Raymond King, in reports. Soldiers and security forces from Chile and Argentina will also travel to Jamaica for the training.

King informs that Kenya and Haiti are in the process of signing off on an agreement to allow Kenya to lead the force into Haiti, following advice from Kenya’s High Court which recently deemed Kenya’s decision to deploy police officers to the gang run nation as unconstitutional. This agreement includes a formal request for assistance from Haiti, allowing Kenya to legally intervene on the ground.

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Bahamas News

Major plans for The Bahamas announced Davis

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

#Bahamas#Development,February 22nd, 2024 – “Things are changing in The Bahamas,” were the words of Prime Minister Philip Davis as he outlined some of the Government’s plans to improve the nation through a decrease in the cost of living, enhanced security for Bahamians and the expansion of access to opportunities. Davis, who was presenting on February 21st, the Bahamas Mid-Year Review of the fiscal performance for the fiscal year 2023/2024, highlighted a long list of plans for the archipelago.

Here’s the full list stated in Davis’ address :

  • A new energy policy and an expansion of renewable energy, including microgrids, and an emphasis on engaging local Bahamian firms and building local professional capacity; 
  • An expansion of Bahamian ownership in our economy, including support for entrepreneurs, small and medium sized enterprises, and an expansion of affordable housing –with hundreds of families moving into new homes by this summer; 
  • A modern and award-winning specialized tourism product, with new investments across our archipelago, and major visibility and branding campaigns in New York, Florida, and the UK;
  • Progress on redeveloping downtown Nassau, long overdue;
  • New commitments to education, including a Parental Engagement Unit; more teacher training, modernizing the curriculum, classroom enhancements, improving school attendance, and using the Renaissance testing results to design individualized support for students; 
  • An expansion of technical and vocational training, including certification at the high school level;
  • An Empower Grand Bahama micro-grant programme for entrepreneurs; $1.5 billion in investments for Grand Bahama in the pipeline; the Beautiful Grand Bahama programme, in which collaboration has led to safer communities; and Collab Grand Bahama, which fosters partnerships between the government and the private sector to bring change and progress to Grand Bahama;
  • Major upgrades to our health infrastructure;
  • More support for our athletes and sports programmes;
  • We’re on track to pave 65 miles of road in New Providence alone this year;
  • Investments in NIB to improve fairness and efficiency;
  • A National School Breakfast pilot programme, which is already giving thousands of our children breakfast in their primary schools, and is ready to expand;
  • New classes, camps, lessons, and programmes at our Urban Renewal Centres;
  • A Youth Guard to strengthen our capacity during national emergencies, and give more young Bahamians a path forward;
  • A Task Force addressing unregulated shantytowns in New Providence and Abaco, with other islands to follow;
  • The selection and training of new immigration officers;
  • Saturation patrols and new investments and collaboration in crime prevention; 
  • A juvenile detention facility;
  • A cadre of officers trained to recognize and manage psychiatric issues;
  • Stronger partnerships and new patrol vessels to secure our nation’s borders; 
  • Major new investments across our Family Islands, including new airports, and road paving in Andros, Bimini, Cat Island, Abaco, Long Island; Great Harbour Cay, and Crooked Island;
  • The development of our nation’s blue carbon credits strategy; and
  • A major investment in agriculture and national food security.

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