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BAHAMAS: Minister Ferreira Announces Initiative to Ban Single-Use Plastics By 2020

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#Bahamas, April 25, 2018 – Nassau – In an effort to simultaneously address marine pollution and waste management, Minister of the Environment and Housing the Hon. Romauld S. Ferreira officially announced, on April 23, 2018, his Ministry’s initiative to ban single-use plastics – such as shopping bags, food utensils, straws and styrofoam food containers – by 2020.

“My Ministry will work to develop a phase-out plan for single-use plastics such as plastic bags collected at point-of-sale, straws, styrofoam food containers and plastic utensils,” Minister Ferreira said, at a press conference held at the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) Head Office.

Among those present were representatives of a number of environmental groups and stakeholders, pledging their support.  Among them were Ardastra Gardens, Atlantis Resort, the Bahamas National Trust, the Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation (BREEF), Cans for Kids, Cat Island United, Creative Nassau, Friends of the Environment (Abaco), the University of The Bahamas

“We will also move to make the release of balloons into the air illegal, as they end up in our oceans, releasing toxins and injuring marine life,” he added.  “Additionally, we will become a signatory to the Clean Seas Campaign, which was launched in January 2017 by the United Nations Environment.  It aims to increase global awareness of the need to reduce marine litter by engaging governments, the private sector, and the general public.”

Minister Ferreira noted that, with the assistance of a diverse group of environmental professionals, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and the business community at large, relevant governmental agencies and educational institutions, his Ministry will embark on a nation-wide public consultation and educational outreach campaign.

“We will visit communities and schools, hold town hall meetings and meet with businesses to gather valuable data that will assist us in developing a fair and reasonable phase-out plan by 2020 and associated legislation,” he said.

“In the coming weeks we will be reaching out to businesses that have already incorporated sustainable food products within their daily operations,” he added. “As the Minister of the Environment and Housing, I must commend your efforts to take responsibility for how your business impacts our environment. Thank you.”

According to the Ministry, the Plastic Task Force includes members such as the Ministries of the Environment and Housing, Tourism, Finance, and Health; the Customs Department; the Attorney General’s Office; the Bahamas Plastic Movement; The Nature Conservancy; Atlantis and Baha Mar Resorts; and the University of The Bahamas.

Minister Ferreira pointed out that, with the assistance of the BCCEC, his Ministry would also start meeting with restaurants, suppliers, importers and various food vendors. The Ministry and the BCCEC also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the initiative, during the press conference that day.

“To engage students, I’m pleased to announce our logo competition for students ages 13 to 18,” Minister Ferreira said.  “Logos that represent our plastic and styrofoam ban initiative are to be submitted via email by June 4th, at 4 pm.  The competition flyer will be shared through the media and on our Facebook page.”

Minister Ferreira noted that The Bahamas is a “delicate”country with an extensive marine environment that is fundamental to its health and economy.

“For decades, human activities have negatively impacted the marine environment resulting in the death of coral reefs, collapse of fish populations and marine pollution,” Minister Ferreira said.  “Coupled with this, we have the prevailing challenge of finding waste management solutions that must be tailored to our small size, but meets our needs within a modern economy.”

Minister Ferreira said that, like many other countries, The Bahamas has an “exacerbating” plastic problem that held significant economic and environmental costs.

He cited a study conducted by the Ellen MacArthur foundation found that at least eight million tons of plastic waste ends up in the world’s oceans each year and will remain there for at least a century. He added that, according to the study, by 2025, it is projected that there will be one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish, with plastic trash eventually outweighing fish in the oceans.

“Like other small island developing states, our marine environment is an integral part of our island lifestyle,” Minister Ferreira said.  “Due to our location, it is also expected that we will inherit unwanted marine debris as a result of ocean currents and wave patterns, adding a compounding impact to our tourism and fishing industries.

“If you didn’t know, plastic and styrofoam do not decompose,” he added.  “They break down into much smaller micro-pieces which are often mistaken for food by birds, turtles, and fish. Injuring or even causing death, various marine species have been impacted by marine debris through entanglement, ingestion, chemical bio-accumulation, smothering and the altering of habitats.”

Causing adverse effects on their health, Minister Ferreira said, plastic contamination is passed up through the food chain, accumulating from prey to predator and ultimately culminating in humans.

“Now, we have come full cycle and find ourselves eating our own plastic waste,” he pointed out.

Minister Ferreira noted that, likewise, styrofoam usage is similarly disastrous. Manufactured with greenhouse gases that affects the ozone layer and petroleum, styrofoam is non-sustainable and a highly polluting product, he added.

“When used in microwaves styrofoam releases fluorocarbons into the air and several other poisonous gases are absorbed into whatever food item it contains,” Minister Ferreira stated.

“Many places have already banned the use of styrofoam, particularly in warming foods in schools and restaurants,” he added. “Additionally, ordinary heat from the food or drink releases these toxins into the contents of the styrofoam containers.

Chemical leaching from styrofoam, Minister Ferreira said, had been linked to acute health effects such as the irritation of the skin, eyes and upper respiratory tract and gastrointestinal system.

“Research has also connected the long-term exposure to styrofoam to minor effects on kidney function and menstrual cycles of women,” he noted.

Minister Ferreira also addressed the impact of plastic pollution on the Bahamian tourism sector.

“A survey done by the Ministry of Tourism found that 70% of visitors come to The Bahamas for its beaches,” Minister Ferreira noted.  “However, the Bahamas Plastic Movement estimates that if the rate of plastic pollution on beaches increases, it could cause up to BSD $8.5 million in tourism losses annually for the country.  Thus, the country urgently needs laws and swift action to protect its people, environment, and economy.”

Noting the negative impacts plastic and styrofoam have on health, the marine environment, and the tourism sector, the initiative mentioned earlier is part of a much bigger picture, Minister Ferreira said.

“As my Ministry works diligently to develop effective solutions for landfills and scattered dumpsites throughout The Bahamas, we must also address the type of waste we dispose of – on a daily basis,” he said.  “By reducing or even eliminating harmful waste streams, we will move this country one step closer to have an efficient and sustainable waste management plan.”

Minster Ferreira stated that, along with reducing health and environmental impacts, the ban was a “great opportunity” for the creation of jobs.

“To all the artists, straw vendors and creatives amongst us, we need you to get creative,” he said.  “Let’s redesign the traditional crocus-sack bags and add some Androsia and a dash of our native straw.”

Minister Ferreira appealed to the general public by stating that the country cannot achieve its goal by 2020 without their support and cooperation.

“We value your input and look forward to engaging you throughout this process,” he said.

“In an effort to lead by example, my ministry has officially banned the purchase and supply of styrofoam cups in our offices,” he added.  “Instead, we encourage all employees to bring their own mug and reusable water bottles to work. we are working to expand our office sustainability plan so that it may be echoed throughout the public sector.”

Minister Ferreira said, to every Bahamian, he encouraged them to start making lifestyle changes and “live differently”.

“Perhaps, Jane Goodall – arguably the most famous anthropologist – said it best when she opined, ‘You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you.  What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make’,” he said.

“Therefore, reduce your plastic and styrofoam usage by refusing straws, invest in smart plastic and styrofoam alternatives, and carry reusable bags to the grocery store and start bringing a reusable bottle and mug to work,” he added.  “Studies have shown that these small lifestyle changes has resulted in a reduction of more than 60% of plastic and styrofoam entering our environment.

“This is one of those great fights of our generation and, as Ernest Hemingway aptly said, ‘The Earth is a fine place and worth fighting for’.”

 

By:  Eric Rose (BIS)

 

Photo Captions:

Header: Minister of the Environment and Housing the Hon. Romauld S. Ferreira (left) speaks at the Single-Use Plastics and Styrofoam Ban Press Conference, held at the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) Head Office, on April 23, 2018. Also pictured are BCCEC Chief Executive Officer Edison Sumner and Chairman of BCCEC’s Energy and Environment Committee Debbie Deal.

First insert: Minister of the Environment and Housing the Hon. Romauld S. Ferreira (standing centre) pictured with signatories and stakeholders of the Memorandum of Understanding between his Ministry and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC), during the Single-Use Plastics and Styrofoam Ban Press Conference, held at the BCCEC Head Office, on April 23, 2018. Pictured, seated (from left) are the document’s signees Acting Permanent Secretary Janice Miller and BCCEC Vice-Chairman Khrystal Ferguson. Pictured standing with Minister Ferreira are BCCEC Chief Executive Officer Edison Sumner and Chairman of BCCEC’s Energy and Environment Committee Debbie Deal.

Second insert: A number of bags and containers made of sustainable materials, as they were displayed at the Single-Use Plastics and Styrofoam Ban Press Conference, held at the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) Head Office, on April 23, 2018.

 

(BIS Photos/Eric Rose)

 

 

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CARPHA Team undertakes Assessment of Guyana’s National Surveillance System for Non-communicable Diseases

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October 14, 2021 – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) conducted a technical mission to Guyana from September 22nd – 25th, 2021 to undertake site visits as a part of an ongoing assessment of six (6) Member States’ systems for the national surveillance of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors. This activity was implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Guyana through an Agence Française de Développement (AFD) – funded project.

The aim of the assessment s to provide evidence in support of the development of a Regional Surveillance System for NCDs, a priority under the regional health framework Caribbean Cooperation in Health IV (2016-2025).

During the mission, the CARPHA technical team reviewed the capacity of existing surveillance mechanisms in Guyana to collect, analyse and report on the NCDs and risk factor indicators proposed for the regional surveillance system. These indicators were recommended by a multi-stakeholder meeting series convened in 2020 under the AFD project, which reviewed global, regional, and sub-regional mandates, targets and practices in surveillance for the prevention and control of NCDs.

The CARPHA Team along with senior officials from the Ministry of Health conducted visits to two (2) health centres, the National Cancer Registry, Ministry of Health Surveillance, and Statistics Unit.  The results from the overall assessment will be presented to the Ministry of Health Guyana and will also be reviewed alongside results from similar assessments in Anguilla, Aruba, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname to inform the finalisation of the regional surveillance system design through a regional stakeholder meeting.

The regional NCDs surveillance system would facilitate the reporting and availability of data to inform policy development, planning, and tracking of progress towards meeting for targets NCDs at Regional and National levels.

Through funding from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), CARPHA is leading the Region in Strengthening Strategic Intelligence and Partnership Approaches to prevent and control NCDs and Strengthen Regional Health Security in the Caribbean. This project, signed in 2019 with a value of €1,500,000.00, demonstrates the commitment of the Government of France and the French people to supporting the public health priorities of the Caribbean Community through CARPHA.

More information on the Project can be found at: https://www.carpha.org/Projects/Ongoing-Projects/Strengthening-Strategic-Intelligence-and-Partnership-Approaches-To-Prevent-and-Control-NCDs-and-Strengthen-Regional-Health-Security-In-The-Caribbean

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World Sight Day: Love Your Eyes

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  14 October, 2021.  In the Caribbean, the leading causes of blindness are glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy (a complication of diabetes).  According to the Vision Atlas, 6.2 million persons in the Caribbean were reported to have vision loss, with an estimated 260,000 persons reported to be blind in 2020.

Information gathered from eighteen (18) Caribbean countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago) with a population of 44 million, showed that the crude prevalence of blindness was 0.60%, and the prevalence of all vision loss was 13.20%. Many of the persons affected were females at 52%.

Global statistics reveal that for 2020, a total of 596 million persons had distance vision impairment worldwide, of this number 43 million were blind.  Projections for 2050, indicate that an estimated 885 million persons may be affected by distance vision impairment with 61 million expected to experience  blindness.

CARPHA’s vision for the Caribbean is a region where the health and wellness of the people are promoted and protected from disease, injury and disability, thereby enabling human development in keeping with the belief that the health of the Region is the wealth of the Region.

Although there are no projects that directly address vision impairment, CARPHA in collaboration with its public health partners is implementing initiatives to address risk factors such as unhealthy diets, use of harmful substances and poor physical activities. This in turn, will help reduce the risk of disability due to complications associated with poor blood sugar and blood pressure management.

Efforts to improve the standards of care for diabetes through the implementation of the CARPHA Guidelines on the Management of Diabetes in Primary Care in the Caribbean, and training of health care workers from the CARPHA Member States will also contribute to the prevention of vision impairment and blindness due to diabetes.

Access to eye care services can reduce visual impairment.  CARPHA urges Member States to strengthen health systems to improve eye health services with emphasis on reaching the vulnerable and those most in need.  Governments should commit to integrating eye care into the universal health care system.

World Sight Day is celebrated annually on the second Thursday in October.  The focus of the day is to bring awareness to blindness and vision impairment as a major public health issue and blindness prevention.

The 2021 commemoration observed on 14th October, seeks to encourage persons to think about the ‘importance of their own eye health.’

Our eyes are working hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been indoors, in front of our screens, and probably missed our eye test appointments. Now more than ever, we need to protect and prioritize our eyesight. There are simple things you can do for yourself to prevent the development of serious eye issues:

  • Take screen breaks for at least five minutes every hour
  • Spend time outside.  Increased outdoor time can reduce the risk of myopia (near-sightedness)[3]
  • Get an eye test. A complete eye exam can detect eye conditions such as glaucoma before it has an effect on your sight. The earlier an eye condition is identified, the easier it is to treat.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet and engage in physical activity. These are crucial steps in maintaining a healthy weight, controlling obesity, and preventing diseases such as diabetes, all of which can impact eye health.
  • If you have diabetes, you should have your eyes checked every year

Your sight cannot be taken for granted.  It is time to LOVE YOUR EYES!

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RBDF Congratulates Retired Commander Defence Force on National Honour Award 

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#TheBahamas, October 13, 2021 – The Royal Bahamas Defence Force congratulates Commodore Retired Leon Livingstone Smith, who was a recipient of the 2021 National Honours Awards on October 11, 2021. 

During a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street, Commodore Smith was presented with the Order of Distinction within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, by Governor-General, the Most Honorable Sir Cornelius A. Smith. Also in attendance were his daughter, Mrs. Italia Seymour, and the Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King.

Commodore Smith was one of sixteen other deserving individuals recognized on National Heroes Day for the vast contributions they made to the development of the country. The first Bahamian Officer to be appointed as Commander Defence Force, he is the longest-serving Commodore to serve this office from 1983 to 1997.

Throughout his military career, he received numerous awards and accolades, and his career in public life spanned over forty years, and on September 19, 2014, an RBDF Legend Class Vessel bearing his name was commissioned. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force is truly grateful for the devoted services of Commodore Smith to the organization and his country.

Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King extends congratulations on his behalf of the members of his Executive Command, Officers, Senior Enlisted, and Junior Enlisted members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, to Commodore Retired Leon Smith, on his great accomplishment.

 

Header:  Commodore Retired Leon Smith being presented with the Order of Distinction within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, by Governor-General, the Most Honorable Sir Cornelius A. Smith on October 11, 2021, during a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street.

Insert: Commodore Retired Leon Smith along with recipients of the 2021 National Honours Awards on October 11, 2021, during a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street.

(RBDF Photos by Able Seaman Paul Rolle II)

 

(For further information please contact the RBDF Public Relations Department or visit our website: www.rbdf.gov.bs, follow us on FacebookTwitter and view our Youtube channel) 

-rbdf- 

#GuardOurHeritage 

#MarlinSpike 

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