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BAHAMAS: Minister Thompson says Grand Classica launch is timely



#UnitedStates, April 18, 2018 – West Palm Beach, FL -Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson, says the introduction of the Classica comes when government is taking steps to revitalize the tourism industry in Grand Bahama. Minister Thompson was in West Palm Beach on Friday, April 13, for the official launch of the Grand Classica’s sail between West Palm Beach and Freeport, Grand Bahama. The Classica will be joining the Grand Celebration and will now provide daily sailings between the two ports.  The Classica left West Palm Beach on Friday, and arrived at Freeport’s harbour on Saturday morning.

When congratulating Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line on the addition of the Classica to the service provided between West Palm Beach and Freeport, Grand Bahama, he said, “This venture could not be timelier as the government is focused on re-energizing our tourism and investment product in Grand Bahama.  The addition of this new vessel provides an invaluable link and service to the island of Grand Bahama.   The Government of Bahamas remains committed to the continued service of BPCL and its unique cruise-&-stay offering. We believe that it will further enhance the number of cruise-&-stay passengers and have a large positive economic impact for the region as a whole.”

The Minister added that government is working to get the Grand Lucayan fully opened again. “The government is concluding negotiations on the sale, renovation and full opening and re-branding of the Grand Lucayan. We are taking this opportunity to create a truly enjoyable and unique destination that your customers will enjoy.  We are truly embarking upon a new era in Grand Bahama.”

The recent approval in principle of the project in West End which will revitalize the area was also mentioned. “The government recently approved in principle a project in the settlement of West End which proposes to construct, repair, revitalize, develop, and operate 246 rooms in three hotels, a banquet facility, 116 branded hotel residences, 1,000 other residences, a hotel/casino site, approximately 150,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, a spa and wellness retreat, two marinas, an 18-hole golf course including driving range.”

The island’s tourism’s numbers continue to improve, explained the Minister, and while tourism is the number one industry, the government is eager to get the message out that Grand Bahama is a great place to do business as well, a place suited to become an internationally recognized science, technology and innovation hub.

“We possess modern and superior infrastructure, modern roads, constant and reliable electricity supply of North-American standards, and high quality high-speed internet. We also have a wide variety of public and private schools. Bahamians are also among the most technologically savvy people in the Caribbean. Our recent Technology Summit highlighted several Bahamians who are at the cutting edge of innovation and technology and our government embraces their experience and expertise to advance this promising industry.

“Grand Bahama has proven to be an attractive place for manufacturing cutting-edge technology.  The Bahamas is currently finalizing programs for blockchain-based solutions, fin-tech and crypto-currency companies and intend to promote blockchain as a sub-industry within ICT.

“We are also becoming H1B visa-friendly and actively working to assist US companies, who employ foreigners through the H1B visas program.  We remain open to tailor-making packages specific to a company’s needs, allowing them to retain their talent without increasing cost.  Legislation has been passed in our Commercial Enterprise Act which will streamline business applications and adapt immigration policy to facilitate new technology businesses.”

The Minister continued, “Freeport, Grand Bahama is the digital paradise you’ve been looking for. Our nation’s second city has superb communications infrastructure so you are always connected. Freeport has two major ISPs with independent terrestrial, subterranean, sub-sea and wireless networks.  The city also boasts diverse network paths, self-healing metro, inter-island and international networks.”

Explaining some of the benefits of doing business in Grand Bahama, Minister Thompson noted that Freeport is managed by the Grand Bahama Port Authority, a private city management organization, in conjunction with the national government.  Additionally, business owners enjoy the benefits of a tax neutral jurisdiction, and there is no capital gains, real property or corporate income tax.

Additionally, he continued, The Freeport Container Port, a 24-hour facility serving as a major transshipment hub between the US, Latin America and Europe, has the deepest container terminal in the region.

“The government is highly enthusiastic about the unique service that BPCL will continue to provide in Grand Bahama. Your cruise line provides this open-leg provision cruising: an enjoyable, cost-effective cruise and vacation experience in one.

“For Bahamians and visitors alike, BPCL provides a fantastic service that can be tailor-made to suit each passenger.  The government is pleased that Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line recognizes the value and promise that remains in Grand Bahama. I wish to extend our appreciation to BPCL CEO, Oneil Khosa.  Kevin Shea Mr. David Johnson and the entire Team.  BPCL is certainly a respected partner of the Bahamas that plays a significant role in our tourism industry.”

It is hoped that with the additional ship, BPCL will be able to deliver some 400,000 passengers to Grand Bahama each year, which will have a “tremendous and direct impact”.


By Robyn Adderleya

Photo captions: Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson, on Friday participated in the activities for the inaugural sailing of the SS Neo Classica. The Grand Classica will join the Grand Celebration and now provide daily sailings between West Palm Beach and Freeport.

Photos show the ribbon cutting, and Minister Thompson (right) with Mayor of Riviera Beach, Thomas Masters, and Mayor of West Palm Beach, Jeri Muoio.

(BIS Photos)


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



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:

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World Sight Day: Love Your Eyes



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 



#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:, follow us on FacebookTwitter and view our Youtube channel) 




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