Turks and Caicos, September 6th, 2017 – Providenciales –
“My Fellow Turks and Caicos Islanders, Residents and Visitors to our shores.
In the coming hours, we face a storm that is by all of man’s account, is poised to have a devastating impact on countries that it comes into contact with. Turks and Caicos Islands remain in its path and we are readying all systems to be able to endure the storm. Nonetheless, it is my Government’s position that a country is as ready as its people and so yesterday, the Hon Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Health and I made contact with Salt Cay, one of the Islands that is the subject of an Evacuation Order. We were able to travel to Salt Cay and explain the effects of the Order. We are pleased that a very large percentage of the population has left Salt Cay. However a few have elected to remain. Likewise the Minister of Home Affairs and I were able to join Town Hall Meetings in Middle Caicos who for the first time has been the subject of an Evacuation Order and regrettably, the majority has elected to stay. An Evacuation Order is never taken to be taken lightly and we are still hoping and praying that these individuals will comply and will not risk life. Experience has taught us that the remote Islands of Salt Cay and Middle Caicos can easily be cut off from access to assistance and with the magnitude of this Storm, there is a great possibility of loss of and damage to property as well as a great possibility of injury and loss of life. It is always better to be safe than sorry. We call on family and friends to assist in reaching out to relatives and friends and encourage them to comply with the Order. We see similar Evacuation Orders issued for Inagua and parts of Florida. The Government continues to encourage all residents to continue to rush in your preparations: secure your property, stock up on basic supplies but above all ensure you and your family’s personal safety. Shelters will be activated today and encourage those of you near the sea, in flood prone areas or in homes that you know are unable to withstand strong winds to seek refuge with family and friends in the first instance and then seek shelters if necessary.
Today we had hoped to travel to all of the other Islands today but because of the current circumstances, we are unable to.
The Hon Williams and I also used the opportunity last evening to address the creole and Spanish communities in a joint appearance on four radio Stations urging these communities to also rush in preparation. It remains my Government’s stance that of paramount importance at this time is the protection and preservation of life and though criticized, we have ceased all immigration operations to detain undocumented nationals. It is the right thing to do and we stand by it. I am therefore appealing to all documented and undocumented nationals in this country to seek refuge in safe premises.
I am personally disappointed that there are instances of price gouging and that too many merchants have seen it fit to exploit consumers at this time by raising prices on critical hurricane preparedness items. It is rather unfortunate. We are as a government cognizant of the fact that preparing for the storm on the heels of readying our children for school return can be challenging and we have agreed and as Minister of Finance, I signed a Warrant to allow for the payment of salary advances to Government workers. I ask only that you be wise and remember your obligations post storm. It is not meant to bring undue hardship which if not managed properly but help during a difficult time.
I am again appealing to members of the Private Sector to not be inconsiderate during these times, please allow your staff time to prepare for the Storm. There is a narrowing window and we appreciate that there are services that we continue to wish to access and we appreciate your accommodation but your staff must also be allowed to prepare for the storm. I encourage you to allow essential staff a reasonable and practical shift system that allows them to secure their property and prepare. I pray that many of you will reconsider your positions.
Additionally as Acting Minister of Tourism, I am grateful to the Airlines that have arranged rescue flights for tourists that are on Island. Unfortunately airlift could not be arranged for all but we are satisfied that all Hotels and Resorts have Plans that will ensure as best it can, their guests safety. We encourage all guests to remain indoors and to take all precautions to remain safe.
I am also pleased that the meeting held with stakeholders that included Telecommunication Communities, Airlines, Ferry Services, Utility Service Providers, Hotel Association demonstrated that they too are ready and have activated their individual plans. Government stakeholders continue to work hard to ensure that we as prepared as one can be to endure this storm.
Today marks 9 years since the passage of Hurricane Ike, many of us in the Salt Islands have been sharing our experiences over the years and more so over the past few days. What is obvious is that many are indeed fearful but have used that fear not to paralyze themselves into inaction but to fuel their preparations. As I drove through Grand Turk yesterday and visited key places like the Prison, DDME’s Office and RTC, I was pleased with the level of preparedness. That experience though sad has been the best teacher for many of us and encourage those of you had been fortunate not to experience it to take stock of the level of preparedness of Ike survivors. This storm is the largest storm ever formed in the Atlantic and CNN has dubbed it a different type of animal. I encourage us to not be paralyzed by fear or anxiety but to prepare and pray.
PREMIER CALLS A TIME FOR PRAYER
On September 6, 2008 many of us were praying to God for help from closets, under tables, compromised homes and in less than ideal situations. I am calling on us as a people to call on Him for help and mercy. Man can do as much as we can to prepare in anticipation of a storm but this country serves a God that is bigger than any storm and His voice can command stillness in the firmament that He has established by His hands. Our prayer must be for mercy and whilst many including Pastors in this island have said that this storm must come, we hold fast to our faith praying believing that God in His mercy will hear our prayer and the desires of our heart, not that we deserve it but because His mercies are new every morning and grace continues to abounds. To this end, I am calling on all prayer warriors to congregate at 5pm around this country. I want to encourage us all to leave indoor and pray and praise in open areas around the Islands. In Grand Turk, please go to the Parade Grounds, in Providenciales the Down Town Ball Park, in South Caicos, the Salina, in North Caicos in front of the DC’s Office, in Middle Caicos and Salt Cay, step outside of your homes and let us lift up our collective voices. On all Islands, if you are unable to make it to these locations, step outside wherever you are and pray. We are not looking for numbers, nor taking register, we are being obedient and know that at this stage and level of preparedness, we hand it over to Him publicly and declare it in the open heavens.”
Medical Council of Jamaica Announces more CME hours for Doctors
KINGSTON, September 19, 2023 (JIS) – Medical doctors will be required to complete two additional hours of Continuing Medical Education (CME) specifically dedicated to mental health and wellness in order to renew their practising certificates come January 2024.
The Medical Council of Jamaica (MCJ) noted that this critical update forms part of its commitment to advancing the healthcare system and ensuring doctors are well-equipped to meet the prevailing mental health demands.
“This increase moves the total required CME hours from 20 to 22, enhancing doctors’ ability to address the mental health implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The decision to introduce these additional CME hours is driven by the Medical Council of Jamaica’s commitment to prioritise the well-being of both patients and healthcare professionals,” the MCJ stated.
The Council reasoned that COVID-19 has highlighted the pressing need for mental health support, with healthcare workers facing unprecedented challenges, experiencing increased stress and witnessing the emotional toll the pandemic has taken on patients.
To support doctors in meeting the new CME requirement, MCJ Registrar, Professor Howard Spencer, shared that the Council will provide access to a range of accredited providers and resources offering relevant mental health and wellness courses.
“The Medical Council of Jamaica encourages all doctors to proactively engage in these additional CME hours well in advance of the renewal deadline in early 2024, to ensure a seamless continuation of their practice,” he emphasised.
The Council added that the focus on mental health and wellness will empower doctors with the knowledge and skills to provide comprehensive and compassionate care to patients experiencing challenges in this area.
Commenting on the new requirement, Consultant Psychiatrist and Public Health Specialist, Dr. Earl Wright, underscored that the additional CME hours are a win-win for doctors.
“It’s not only enhancing the doctors’ care of the patient but doctors need to take care of themselves also. This will help to prevent doctor burnout. Doctors are sometimes under severe stress for long periods of time. So enhancing the doctors’ ability to take care of themselves, they’re also enhancing their ability to take care of all their patients,” he remarked.
For more information about the new CME requirement, visit www.jamaicamedicalcouncil.org.
Prime Minister Holness opens Maypen to Williamsfield Leg of Southern Coastal Highway
#Kingston, September 19, 2023 – The May Pen to Williamsfield leg of the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP) was officially opened by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, on Thursday (September 14).
The thoroughfare, which represents part A of the SCHIP, now significantly reduced travel time between the parishes of Clarendon and Manchester and will offer a multitude of economic and social benefits to users.
Speaking during the segment’s opening ceremony, Prime Minister Holness hailed the development as “a step in improving the general quality of life for all Jamaicans”.
“[It is] a step in improving the productivity of all Jamaicans. You can easily measure the productivity gained of this road by the productivity lost in traffic, discomfort and the aggression it creates in driving on some of the other bad roads,” he said.
Mr. Holness noted that some of the anticipated benefits of the new roadway include connecting workers to jobs, improving the response time of the security forces, and improving and lowering the cost for delivering agricultural outputs to market.
“In so many ways, building your infrastructure improves well-being,” he emphasised.
The Prime Minister also announced that the highway’s usage will be at no cost to motorists until the end of the calendar year, on December 31, 2023. After this period, toll rates will be applied.
Mr. Holness further pointed out that the scope of work for the highway included a new four-lane bridge across the Rio Minho to increase the area’s resilience to weather events.
The project also features a two-year defects liability phase, the Prime Minister said, while noting that, “during this phase, the contractor will have to fix any project-related defects”.
It was implemented by the National Road Operating and Constructing Company Limited (NROCC), under the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.
For his part, NROCC Managing Director, Stephen Edwards, described the highway’s opening as “a momentous occasion in infrastructure development in Jamaica”.
Dubbing the project as a “giant leap forward for the parishes of Clarendon and Manchester and for all Jamaicans”, Mr. Edwards informed that the contract’s implementation commenced in 2019.
He detailed that the development features a 23-kilometre four-lane highway with adiamond interchange and Florida-T at May Pen, a separated interchange at Toll Gate, an interchange at Melrose, four bridges, 17 concrete box crossings, upgrading of approximately five kilometres of roadway along the Melrose Bypass to a four-lane dual carriageway, a police post at Toll Gate, safety fences, concrete median barriers, and the installation and expansion of fibre optics.
“We believe… we have delivered a modern highway that the people of Jamaica can be proud of,” Mr. Edwards added.
Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport, Hon. Daryl Vaz, in his remarks, said the highway’s opening is “a pivotal junction in our nation’s transportation history”.
“This remarkable highway will undoubtedly reshape this side of the island and its network and elevate collective journeys towards progress. This occasion is also a testament to the dedication in providing safer roads and enhanced connectivity for all Jamaicans,” Mr. Vaz stated.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Everald Warmington, also spoke highly of the road development.
He expressed that the new leg of the country’s highway network represents “more than just concrete, steel and asphalt”.
“It signifies development, connectivity, and the promise of a brighter future for all those who traverse the south coast of this country,” Mr. Warmington said.
He added that a well-planned, efficient transportation network is the backbone of any thriving nation, as it connects people, fosters economic growth and enhances the quality of life for citizens.
Multi Pronged Approach in St. Ann to Tackle Dengue
Montego Bay September 19 (JIS) – The St. Ann Health Department has adopted a multipronged approach in the fight against dengue fever as the parish reports an increase in suspected cases of the mosquito-borne disease.
Addressing the monthly meeting of the St Ann Municipal Corporation on September 14, Medical Officer of Health for St. Ann, Dr. Tamika Henry, said although the country is not currently in outbreak mode, the parish is on high alert due to the endemic nature of dengue in Jamaica.
She explained that the multipronged strategy includes surveillance, case management, health education, human resource reinforcement, larvicidal and adulticidal activities, source reduction, external stakeholder engagement, and continuous monitoring and evaluation.
Active and passive surveillance methods are being employed to detect suspected cases early. This involves healthcare personnel actively searching for symptoms at hospitals and health centres, ensuring prompt intervention when necessary.
“We have a nurse that is stationed at the hospital; she’s our hospital active surveillance nurse. She goes from ward to ward, as well as in the outpatient department, accident and emergency, looking to see if there’s anybody who matches the case definition for dengue because, of course, we want to pick up things very early,” Dr. Henry said.
She noted that the health department has bolstered its human resources, employing 26 permanent vector control workers across its five health districts.
To manage the situation effectively, high-risk communities have been identified and targeted for intervention by workers, including larvicidal activities aimed at mosquito breeding sites.
Dr. Henry outlined that health education and promotion efforts are widespread, involving various public health nurses, public health inspectors and community health aides.
“We have public health nurses going out. Public health inspectors are in their zonal areas on a day-to-day basis; they, too, do health education. We have our Community Health Aides, who have been doing house-to-house visits, reminding persons about searching and destroying,” she said.
Dr. Henry noted that the Ministry of Education and Youth is also engaged, with dengue lesson plans being implemented in schools.
“One of our age groups of concern is five to 14. So, we engage with them [Ministry] and they have again rolled out their dengue lesson plan in the schools, and the children are doing their search-and-destroy activity during their activity session,” she added.
Since the start of 2023, St. Ann has received 17 notifications of suspected dengue cases. One case has been confirmed that involves a 13-year-old male who presented with fever, headache, eye pain, and nausea.
Dr. Henry disclosed that nearly half of these cases, approximately 48 per cent, match the case definition for dengue, a significant increase compared to 2022.
In 2022, the parish had 10 reported cases with only one being confirmed as dengue fever.
“More males are being reported than females in 2023, and we recognise that there are two particular age groups of concern – 5 to 14 age group, that is our primary school going up to our high school, as well as our 24 to 44 age group,” Dr. Henry shared.
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