#Trinidad&Tobago, December 6, 2017 – Port of Spain – “The increased severity of dengue and the occurrence of new viruses that have swept through the Region tell us we have a gap in regional health security where vector borne diseases are concerned. This year we had storms that were unprecedented. We are expected to see more monster storms which will cause disruption including making the environment more favorable for vectors. Hence the need for integrated vector management and looking at some of the new tools that are available.”
These were the words of Dr C James Hospedales, Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), as he spoke at the Opening Ceremony of the Integrated Vector Management (IVM) coordinated by the Agency.
The two-day meeting held from 5-6 December 2017, at the Trinidad Hilton and Conference Centre, brought together participants from 27 English, French, Dutch and Spanish speaking countries in the Region to review and discuss the adaptation of standardized protocols for improved vector surveillance, including insecticide resistance testing. The meeting will engage regional vector control managers in discussions related to the adaptation and use of a IVM toolkit in national vector control programmes.
The transmission of vector-borne diseases is strongly influenced by demographic, social and environmental factors, resulting in the emergence and re-emergence of yellow fever, malaria and dengue; and more recently, the emergence of chikungunya and zika in the Region.
In his welcome remarks, Dr. Edwin Bolastig, Advisor Health Systems and Services, PAHO/WHO Country Office, Trinidad and Tobago said, “Vector borne diseases claim more 700,000 lives every year. The burden is highest in tropical and sub-tropical areas such as the Caribbean. Unplanned urbanization and lack of a reliable pipe water supply or solid waste management can render large populations at risk of mosquito borne diseases. Despite these challenges, most of these diseases can be prevented through vector control, if it is planned and implemented well and sustained. The success of response to the growing threat of VBD will depend on strong country leadership, enhanced advocacy, resources mobilisation and coordination among partners. Dr Edwin told participants “This workshop is very timely, and your discussions will be important in strengthening your national vector control programmes, preventing and controlling vectors and ultimately protecting the health of your populations against the vector borne diseases.”
Ms Monica Paul-McLean, Programme Manager, European Union Delegation, also spoke at the opening of the workshop. She spoke about the collaboration between the EU and CARPHA geared towards contributing to efforts to improve the public health of the Caribbean people and outlined the EU’s support to CARPHA since 2013. She said “CARPHA has been working to strengthen health systems across the Region, to better monitor, prevent and control Zika and other mosquito borne diseases. The EU has pledged to continue to support health systems strengthening for prevention and control of epidemics and mosquito borne diseases in the Caribbean. It is our aim to continue to work hand in hand with Caribbean countries towards the achievement of healthy lives for people of all ages thus contributing to the attainment of SDG 3: good health and well-being – which we are all committed to achieve by 2030.”
“I am pleased to witness another significant step towards the reduction and eventual eradication of vector borne diseases in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean region and eventually globally,” stated Honourable Mr Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health Trinidad and Tobago, in his feature address.
Minister Deyalsingh went on to say tires thrown into the environment become the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. It is concerning to note that many of the vector borne diseases we currently struggle with today can be prevented through informed protective measures which can be undertaken by members of the public. He urged participants to collaborate further with agencies such as the European Union and CARPHA to get mosquito borne diseases under control. In closing the Minister applauded CARPHA for their efforts and being proactive.”
During the workshop funded by the European Union, new tools and technologies for vector control will be highlighted and a plenary session on Opportunities for Strengthening Vector Control in the Caribbean will take place on the final day of the workshop. Participants will also discuss the progress of the Caribbean Vector-Borne Disease Network (CariVecNet) which was launched in Cuba this year.
CARPHA’s IVM Toolkit is designed to be used by vector control programme managers as a guide in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of an IVM approach. The Toolkit also provides information on common mosquito vectors and vector-borne diseases in the Caribbean and the tools for vector control operations within the IVM context.
Press Release: CARPHA
Guys, Have 2 Minutes? Here’s How to Check Yourself for Testicular Cancer
Testicular cancer is a rare form of cancer for men in The Bahamas. It is highly curable — if you know it’s there!
November 30, 2021 – Men…how often do you perform a self-exam to check yourselves for testicular cancer?
While it’s a relatively rare form of cancer, young men aren’t exempt – in fact, testicular cancer occurs most often in young and middle-aged men. The good news is, it can usually be treated successfully.
The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a lump on your testicle. But that’s not the only sign of this disease.
Men who have testicular cancer may experience several different kinds of symptoms, says oncologist Timothy Gilligan, MD, a Medical Oncologist at Cleveland Clinic who specializes in treating testicular cancer.
Testicular cancer most frequently strikes men younger than age 44, and is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for men ages 15 to 34. It is almost always curable if found early, Dr. Gilligan says, and it is usually curable even when at a later stage. So it’s important to know signs and symptoms.
Here, Dr. Gilligan says, are five possible signs of testicular cancer you might not know about:
5 Testicular Cancer Symptoms That Aren’t a Lump – Know what to look for and catch it early
- A feeling of heaviness or pressure in your scrotum.
- Change in testicle size or firmness.Certain types of testicular tumors can reduce testosterone or increase estrogen in the body, which can result in a change in testicle size or firmness.
- Swollen legs.When a tumor spreads to the lymph node, it can constrict blood flow in the veins and result in a blood clot. The clots often occur in the legs, which causes them to swell. You might even experience blood clot symptoms such as pain and difficulty breathing.
- Lower back pain and shortness of breath.These are symptoms of advanced testicular cancer, meaning the cancer has spread to lymph nodes behind your stomach. Shortness of breath also may signal that the cancer has spread to your lungs, which may make it harder for air to move in and out.
- Breast growth or tenderness.In rare cases, hormone changes also can cause breast tenderness or growth of breast tissue. Some tumors can secrete high levels of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which stimulates breast development.
If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor right away, Dr. Gilligan says. If your physician diagnoses you with epididymitis or orchitis and the symptoms do not resolve quickly with antibiotics, request an ultrasound to evaluate for a testicular tumor.
“While up to 95 percent of men with testicular cancer are cured, it’s important to get care quickly if you’re experiencing symptoms because testicular cancers usually grow fast,” Dr. Gilligan says. “If there is disease, the earlier it is treated, the greater than chance for success.”
Signs of Recovery in East Grand Bahama Habitats Scarred by Hurricane Dorian
#TheBahamas, November 30, 2021 – In the pinelands and mangroves that make East Grand Bahama so distinctly unique, nature is replenishing itself from the massive destruction of Hurricane Dorian. The restoration slowly taking shape is evidence that the death and devastation that the massive storm left behind is giving way to new life, according to biodiversity experts and scientists who recently conducted field assessments.
The biodiversity consultants with the Implementing Land, Water and Ecosystems Management (IWEco) in The Bahamas project have concluded a new phase of field surveys in East Grand Bahama. The team assessed pinelands and wetlands, collecting detailed information on the habitats and the life forms they support for a biodiversity inventory that will be published as part of the project.
“We have yet to see a standing pine tree that remains alive. In different types of pine habitats, however, you’re seeing different rates of recovery, with seedlings beginning to be established and these seedlings are typically anywhere from eight to 12 inches tall, and some we’ve seen are two to three feet tall,” Mark Daniels, biodiversity consultant with BRON Ltd. said.
The biodiversity team spent more than a week conducting point counts, walking transects and vegetation plots to better understand the recovery process of pine and wetland areas in East Grand Bahama since Hurricane Dorian in 2019.
“The external fringes of those mangrove systems remain dead. However, in the more protected interior regions of these mangrove patches you are seeing mangroves returning and those creek systems where you have mangrove habitats that are inland and protected from the full force of the sea, are also recovering and looking very healthy,” Daniels said.
The biodiversity team also saw several species of wetland and forest birds as well as endemics like the Bahama Yellowthroat and Bahama Woodstar as well as pine saplings that are growing in areas where the trees were dead. Information on the wildlife in East Grand Bahama will also be included in the biodiversity inventory that will be made public.
“We are seeing a lot more birds in the area but most of them are winter migrants from North America coming to The Bahamas and their presence increases our avian fauna by over 50 per cent,” said Scott Johnson, biodiversity consultant with BRON Ltd. “What’s also interesting is that some of the highest diversity of birds we are seeing is in patches of coppice areas in East Grand Bahama. These birds are occupying sites that have a variety of plant species that are producing flowers and some fruits so they have food resources.”
Although the Bahama Yellowthroat and Bahama Woodstar have been observed in the area, other pineland species of birds have not been seen since Hurricane Dorian in 2019, he added.
“I fear that they may have been extirpated from the East Grand Bahama area. Until that pineland ecosystem comes back which may allow for new immigration of birds in that area, chances are that we may not see Bahama Warblers, Olive-Capped Warblers, or Cuban Emeralds in that area for a while,” Johnson said.
The IWEco The Bahamas project is part of a larger, regional undertaking for the Caribbean funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). For The Bahamas, the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP), the Forestry Unit, the Ministry of Public Works and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust are the leading partners.
The work that is being done towards creating a biodiversity inventory is pivotal as it will not only benefit the natural environment but involve citizens more closely in sustaining it. East Grand Bahama has a diverse ecosystem in its plant and animal life as well as its habitats. Investigating and gathering a record of all these life forms is a key part of developing the systems and driving the adaptation to make the environment stronger.
“The Biodiversity Inventory conducted under the IWEco project and its respective findings show significant signs of ecosystem regeneration, and therefore signs of hope as it relates to Hurricane Dorian recovery,” said IWEco The Bahamas National Project Coordinator Melissa Ingraham. “The inventory, amongst other project aspects, such as the development of an ecotourism sector and capacity building opportunities will be incorporated into a watershed management plan to sustainably guide resource use and management at a community based level.”
The project aims to develop and implement of integrated systems that support ecosystem health and strengthen national monitoring and evaluation systems. Other goals include policy, legislative and institutional reforms to increase capacity for sustainable natural resource management and deepening the knowledge that is key for effective stakeholder involvement.
Header: Gathering information for the biodiversity inventory from the pineland forest near West Gap Creek.
1st Insert: These dead mangroves at Ridge Creek are among the lingering signs of Hurricane Dorian’s trek across East Grand Bahama.
2nd insert: Members of the IWEco The Bahamas biodiversity team visit the mangroves at Ridge Creek where there are signs of recovery.
Press Release: IWECO
MOSSUD to adopt ‘You are Somebody’ Programme in early 2022
#TheBahamas, November 30, 2021 – Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obadiah Wilchcombe said his Ministry will adopt the “You are Somebody” Programme within the first quarter of the year 2022 as a means of ensuring that the community of persons with disabilities are included in all aspects of society.
Minister Wilchcombe was addressing the Church Service held (Sunday, November 28 at Living Waters Kingdom Ministries) to officially launch Disability Awareness Week in The Bahamas. The Week runs November 27 to December 4 under the theme: ‘Inclusion for All.’
Inclusion, Minister Wilchcombe said, has been more of a word, than an action.
“The Bible tells us that our gifts open doors,” Minister Wilchcombe told his inhouse and virtual audience. “The Bible didn’t say that you have to be able or living with a disability; the Bible says that all of us have gifts and that we should all utilize our gifts, and leadership must do what it can to lift those gifts and make them useful for communities, for societies, for our country.
“My purpose here today is to tell you that over the next several months, all of the things you thought were left, were gathering dust, will be lifted, will become part of the dialogue in this country and will become a part of the action taken by the Ministry responsible for Social Services and Urban Development (to ensure inclusion). I thank you. I appreciate you. You are somebody.”
Speaking formally for the very first time (outside of the House of Assembly) as Minister regarding one of the units that fall under his remit, Minister Wilchcombe told members of the community that the “You are Somebody” Programme (the name is adopted from the words of U.S Civil Rights icon, the Reverend Jesse Jackson) will help to address some of the many issues still facing the community of persons with disabilities in The Bahamas.
“I have a difficulty with the fact that so many of you, in general, feel marginalized; I have a difficulty because you are not to be considered separate and different in our communities; I have a difficulty because inclusion has been more of a word than action, that there is still discrimination, that we have not done some of the things that we were supposed to do legislatively; that you still do not have transportation that you ought to have.
“We still have not created the Foundation that was intended to raise funding. The truth is we have not fulfilled the agenda, we have not done what we ought to have done, and so I have come to tell you that my Ministry will be adopting, in the first quarter of next year, a simple programme for the disabled and the programme will be titled – and I borrow the words of Jesse Jackson – ‘You are Somebody’ and we will do all we must to ensure that you are included.”
Minister Wilchcombe said the Ministry will “lead by example.”
“I am going to ensure that at the Ministry itself, that we lead by example. Those who wish to discriminate and do not wish to provide jobs and employment, well I don’t see why you can’t be receptionists; I don’t see why you can’t be working throughout the Ministry; I don’t see why the Ministry cannot set the example and cause others to follow. And so, we shall lead. My purpose is to ensure that you have an appreciation that you are loved, and that you are appreciated,”
Minister Wilchcombe also shared the stories of his brother, Richard, whom he said is autistic, and his best friend, a female, who spent most of her life in a wheelchair.
“What I found most interesting about both is that they have never been excluded, always included, always individuals who were present with incredible capacity, talent – in fact my brother always teases me that he can do things I can’t,” Minister Wilchcombe added.
By Matt Maura
Header: Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obadiah Wilchcombe addressing Sunday’s Church Service that officially launched Disability Awareness Week in The Bahamas. The Church Service was held at Living Waters Kindom Ministries. The Week runs November 27 – December 4.
1st insert: Bahamas Ambassador to CARICOM, Her Excellency Leslie Miller-Brice (third left), joined the community of persons with disabilities for Sunday’s Church Service launching Disability Awareness Week in The Bahamas. Her Excellency is pictured with (from left): Mr. Kendrick Rolle, Disability Affairs Division; Miss Christina Fernander, Secretariat, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities; Mrs. Desire Clarke, Deputy Secretary, Secretariat, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (to Her Excellency’s left); Mrs. Annette Lunn, Sign Language Interpreter/Community of Persons who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing; Mr. Kelvin Lunn and Miss Tamera Lunn.
2nd insert: Mrs. Annette Lunn provides Sign Language Interpretation for the community of persons who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing during Sunday’s Church Service. Sign Language Interpreters help to bridge the communication gap for the community. Sign Languages are an extremely important communications tool for members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.
(BIS Photo/Ulric Woodside)
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