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JAMAICA: Public warned about misuse of antibiotics

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#Jamaica, December 13, 2017 – Kingston – The Ministry of Health is warning members of the public of the negative impact on health caused by the excessive or misuse of antibiotics.   Antibiotic/antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the result of the abuse of antibiotics.   AMR occurs when bacteria change and become resistant to the antibiotics used to treat the infections they cause.

AMR is caused by a number of factors, including the overprescription of antibiotics, patients not finishing their treatment, overuse of antibiotics in livestock, fish and crops; poor infection control in hospitals, clinics and unclean facilities, lack of hygiene and poor sanitation.  As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others.  The condition also increases the prevalence of drug-resistant bacteria in humans, animals, plants and the environment.

This poses a great threat to public health, as persons of any age are vulnerable to untreatable infections from surgical site infections, minor injuries or even colds, which can cause life-threatening complications from ‘superbugs’ such as tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.

In response to this public health threat, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with its partners, has come up with a National Action Plan (NAP) to tackle AMR.   Under the NAP, the Ministry of Health will be establishing a surveillance system of antibiotic-resistant infections and strengthening infection prevention and control measures.   Additionally, the Ministry, in collaboration with the UWI, will be undertaking a public education campaign on the impact of antibiotic resistance.

Members of the public are being encouraged to play their part in slowing antibacterial resistance by only using antibiotics prescribed by a certified health professional. Persons are also advised to always take the full prescription, even if health improves.   Persons should never share leftover antibiotics with others, and should prevent infections by regularly washing hands and keeping vaccinations up to date.

A major component of the action plan is stricter regulation and promotion of the appropriate use of quality medicines among healthcare professionals.  Health workers are also being urged to participate in the initiative by ensuring that hands, instruments and the environment are clean; to only prescribe and dispense antibiotics when they are needed, in accordance with current guidelines; report drug-resistant infections to surveillance teams; and talk to patients about how to take antibiotics correctly.

These workers are also charged with educating patients about the dangers of antibiotic resistance and the dangers of misuse.   Medical professionals are also urged to talk to patients about methods of preventing infections through vaccination, hand washing, safe-sex practices and covering nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.   The food production industry is also integral to arresting AMR by promoting and adopting good practices at all steps of the production and processing of foods from animal and plant sources.

Stakeholders within the agricultural sector can also adopt sustainable systems with improved hygiene and biosecurity, proper handling of livestock, and ensuring that antibiotics given to animals are only used to control or treat infectious diseases.   Animals should be vaccinated to reduce the need for antibiotics, and the development of alternatives to the use of antibiotics in plants is also encouraged.

Food producers are also encouraged to implement international standards and guidelines for the responsible use of antibiotics.   These standards are established by the World Health Organization (WHO), Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Noting that 20 to 50 per cent of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Sancia Bennett-Templer, is calling on health workers to dispense these drugs judiciously.

“It is a fact that antibiotic resistance is putting the achievements of modern medicine at risk. Organ transplants, chemotherapy and surgeries, such as caeserian sections, become much more dangerous without effective antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections where antibiotic resistance becomes a problem,” she notes.

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Consultant, Dr. Kam Mung, has commended the Government and local health officials for the effort in establishing a multisectoral national action plan to combat this threat.

“We at PAHO congratulate Jamaica because of the formation of the anti microbial resistance technical working group,” he says.

Noting that almost half a million people have developed multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, Dr. Mung said the action plan will assist in the national effort to stem the devastating health impact associated with the condition.

Meanwhile, Medical Microbiologist at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Dr. Alison Nicholson, tells JIS News that the UWI has been conducting research into the condition, to better prepare the health sector to manage the effects of AMR.

“At the UHWI, we monitor the organisms and look for resistance.  We monitor our resistance patterns and take it further by doing research.  We try to figure out what is the mechanism of this resistance.  We look at the organisms and track them, so we know what organism causes which diseases,” Dr. Nicholson explains.

The NAP is being executed through a multisectoral technical working group comprised of the Ministries of Health and Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries; the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) and the University of the West Indies (UWI).

By: Rochelle Williams (JIS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Caribbean News

DIGICEL+ GIVES CUSTOMERS THE GIFT OF MORE SPEED THIS CHRISTMAS

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The fastest internet just got even faster…for the same great price

 

Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – 1st, December 2021 –  Digicel+ is gifting The Turks and Caicos Islands faster home fibre speeds for Christmas, and beyond. Fulfilling the brand promise of Simply More (more power, more speed and more reliability), customers will now benefit from up to 2x faster download speeds on broadband and bundle plans.

This is all about a better experience for customers, and not about the cost. This free upgrade gives Digicel+ customers an even better home fibre internet experience, for anyone, on any device. And as part and parcel of the digital lifestyle, Digicel+ is the gateway to a Smart Life, which means that state-of-the-art Smart Solutions like Smart Homes and Smart Security are no longer just concepts, but a powerful reality.

Addison Stoddard CEO of Digicel TCI said, “This Christmas, we’re excited to reward customers with a super slick, superfast, super reliable home fibre experience, underpinned by service delivery that is, of course, second to none. Our entry-level plans are the fastest on the island and this puts us head and shoulders above any other internet offering in the country.”

The upgraded packages now start with download speeds of 50Mbps, and go up to 300Mbps for the speed demons and heavy gamers out there. This allows the Turks and Caicos Islands to connect to the global knowledge economy, have amazing entertainment options, and power their personal and professional experiences, thanks to these new superfast internet speeds.

Addison Stoddard continued, “It’s more of what our customers expect; more of what they want and it’s another way that we can be a part of our customers’ digital lives – at home, on the go, anywhere and everywhere. Simply put, Digicel+ is simply more.”

Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has solidified the importance of having a steady, powerful and reliable home internet connection, mainly due to many schools going online and parents working remotely. Now, with even faster internet speeds, customers get the best home fibre experience every time. This provides opportunities for MORE working, MORE schooling, MORE gaming, and MORE streaming with Digicel+.

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Bahamas News

Guys, Have 2 Minutes? Here’s How to Check Yourself for Testicular Cancer

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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

  1. A feeling of heaviness or pressure in your scrotum.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.”

 

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Caribbean News

Central Bank Digital Currency to Facilitate Financial Inclusion

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#Jamaica, November 30, 2021 – Deputy Governor of the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), Natalie Haynes, says Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) implementation is consistent with the Government’s overall financial inclusion strategy.

CBDC is a digital form of central bank-issued currency and, therefore, is legal tender that can be exchanged dollar for dollar with physical cash.  Households and businesses will be able to use CBDC to, among other things, make payments as now obtains with cash.

“Financial inclusion is access by all to financial services and products [and] is a critical factor of Jamaica’s digital transformation. The Bank of Jamaica contributes to this by acting in its role as technical secretariat of the country’s national financial inclusion strategy,” Mrs. Haynes notes.

Through the CBDC, the BOJ will contribute to the financial inclusion process by enabling Jamaicans to seamlessly access financial products and services.

“CBDC is simply a digital form of money issued by a central authority. The Bank of International Settlements defines CBDC as a digital payment instrument denominated in the national unit account that is a direct liability of the central bank. In other words, the Central Bank is responsible for the CBDC that is issued,” Mrs. Haynes explains.

“With amendments to the Bank of Jamaica Act, CBDC will become legal tender. Legal tender means that all merchants, whether for goods or services, will confidently accept CBDC and know that they will get value for the good or the service that they provided,” she adds.

Mrs. Haynes points out that the CBDC should not confused with cryptocurrency.

“CBDC is not a cryptocurrency. A cryptocurrency is privately issued, and it’s not backed by a central authority. So,  you have some of them out there [such as] Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple,” she informs.

The Deputy Governor tells JIS News that the central bank will be using the hybrid approach in introducing its CBDC.

“BOJ will not be issuing CBDC directly to retail customers. We are going to be issuing directly to deposit-taking institutions (DTI) that are licensed under the Banking Services Act; these are commercial banks, building societies, and merchant banks,” Mrs. Haynes outlines.  She adds that in order to foster financial inclusion, “we will also issue to a group called payment service providers, that are currently operating and testing payment products in the bank’s FinTech regulatory sandbox”.

The BOJ will be issuing CBDC to payment service providers and DTIs who, in turn, will distribute it to their customers, clients, merchants and consumers through either an E-money wallet, card networks or other digital options for persons and entities to utilise in transactions.

“In this case, the BOJ issues to wallet providers (the collective name for DTIs and payment service providers) on a wholesale basis, just as we do with physical cash. When a bank wants physical cash, they place an order with BOJ and then they send their cash in transit courier to BOJ to collect the cash. In this case, they will still place their orders with BOJ, and we will issue them with the digital currency,” Mrs. Haynes explains.

The Deputy Governor is reassuring Jamaicans that the CBDC will add to the current pool of retail payment instruments in Jamaica, such as debit and credit cards, as well as prepaid cards offered by payment service providers.

“Think of it, basically, as cash that you have in your wallet. In this case, you’re going to have a digital purse or wallet. It is not e-money, which is a liability of e-money issuers, and, of course, because it is very much like cash, it does not earn interest. CBDC in Jamaica is going to be only for domestic use and will not be used for cross-border transaction,” Mrs. Hayes says.

She points out that one chief benefit of the CBDC is that there will be a more inclusive system for persons where every citizen will have a quick, safe and reliable digital retail payment instrument.

“It’s more efficient than cash. It is instantaneous, even for remote transaction, meaning you don’t have to be in front of the person. For cash, you have to be in front of the person to exchange cash. We can do person to person, person to business, and it goes both ways,” Mrs. Haynes adds.

She says the CBDC is also an incentive for persons who are apprehensive about the formal banking system to reap benefits if they plan to start a business.

“For example, you have a CBDC wallet with bank ‘A’ and then after a couple months of operating, your bank knows you and you can say ‘hey, I need a loan for my medium to small or microbusiness’; it gets you into the formal system. If your bank doesn’t know you and doesn’t know you exist, then it’s going to be very difficult to obtain those facilities,” Mrs. Haynes tells JIS News.

To access the CBDC, the Deputy BOJ Governor says customers will need to have a wallet, which is going to be different from your regular bank account.

“Of course, it’s going to be much easier and simpler to obtain with streamlined and simplified Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements,” Mrs. Haynes states.   She also states that once an individual has a relationship with a bank, in that they already have a bank account with them, they can automatically get a CBDC account.

For those who are unbanked or do not have an account, then DTIs and authorised payment service providers will be able to onboard these individuals, who can then request a CBDC account.

To carry out CBDC transactions, consumers will be able to access, download and deploy a mobile wallet app on any mobile phone, tablet or similar device using the networks of both major telecoms service providers.

Customers will be able to top up their accounts with CBDC through all authorised agents or smart ABMs and do business using CBDC phone-to-phone with merchants.

“To get CBDC wallet, simply contact your wallet provider of choice. If you do not have a bank account, all you need when setting up your CBDC account is your name, Tax Registration Number (TRN), and government-issued photo ID (driver’s licence, passport or voter ID card),” Mrs. Haynes said.

When the CBDC is fully launched, all Jamaicans will be eligible for a CBDC wallet subject to the simplified KYC and the wallet providers’ risk assessment of the customer.

The BOJ is slated to commence national rollout of the CBDC platform during the first quarter of 2022.

It is anticipated that, by then, additional deposit-taking institutions (DTIs) will be onboarded to enable the issuing of wallets to facilitate an expansion of the number of individuals and businesses utilising the currency.

National Commercial Bank (NCB) is currently the sole DTI participating in the CBDC pilot, which commenced in June and is slated to conclude in December.

 

By: Lisa Rowe

Release: JIS

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