#Bahamas, April 26, 2018 – Nassau – The Government of The Bahamas remains “on message” with its commitment to the Bahamian people, and that is to root out corruption, stabilize, strengthen and advance the economy and level the playing field so that the quality of life can be improved for as many Bahamians as possible, Press Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Anthony Newbold said Tuesday (April 24).
“At our briefing last week, I was asked about our agenda and what the government has done or is doing for the Bahamian people. My answer to the question placed me in stories saying that I admitted that the government was off message. I said no such thing,” Press Secretary Newbold said.
“The message from this government was, and remains the same, and has never varied…. This government is committed to rooting out corruption and leveling the playing field so that the quality of life can be improved for as many Bahamians as possible.
“That includes improving the way we govern ourselves,” Press Secretary Newbold added.
Addressing members of the media during his Tuesday afternoon Press Briefing held at the Cecil V. Wallace Whitfield Centre, Cable Beach, Press Secretary Newbold said the government has done that in its first eleven months in Office.
“How has the Government done that? One way was to put some legislation in place (and) so some Bills have been Tabled and Passed within the first eleven months to accomplish these objectives. These include the Bill to Establish the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Another was the Financial Transactions Reporting Amendment Bill; another was the Proceeds of Crime Bill; also the Bill to Amend the Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Amendment Bill and the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information Act – all tabled and passed.
“Also passed was the Commercial Enterprises Bill, and an Ease of Doing Business Committee was established as the government sought to stabilize the economy, which it did. What is still on the table and expected to be passed? A Bill To Provide for the Establishment of the Integrity Committee, and there will be other Bills that will be introduced.”
Press Secretary Newbold said the hosting of the Implementation Workshop on the Bahamas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 2017, which was officially opened by Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis on Monday (April 23, 2018) at the Paul Farquharson Conference Centre, Police Headquarters, was another of the commitments made by the Minnis Administration.
Intended to ensure general public access to government information, the Freedom of Information Act will be implemented in phases in order to ensure that all the preparatory work and training that is necessary to fully implement the regime, is in place. This is expected to “better ensure” the effectiveness of the regime.
There are a number of safeguards for the protection of an individual’s sensitive personal data. The Act ensures the protection of national security matters, legal privilege, and certain government communications. With the exception of these carve outs, the Act provides the public wide access to records.
“It will take some time before the public can have the kind of access they want, but enacting the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 2017, was a promise this government made while in opposition,” Press Secretary Newbold added.
Mr. Newbold said the Government has also implemented a number of strategies aimed at producing jobs.
“Jobs are important and so the Labour on the Blocks initiative was introduced. More than 1,000 jobs have been provided and more are on the way. And according to the Department of Labour, there is a need for carpenters and welders and accountants and quantity surveyors.”
Press Secretary Newbold said the Over-the-Hill Community Development Partnership Initiative (also known as the Over-the-Hill Rejuvenation Programme) launched December 4, 2017, with the distribution of tablets at the Willard Patton Pre-School, is part of the Minnis Administration’s strategy of improving the lives and livelihoods of Over-the-Hill Communities.
Another key component of the Initiative focuses on Community Development such as the restoration of the Southern Recreation Grounds.
Developed and facilitated by officials of the Economic Development and Planning Unit, Office of the Prime Minister, the Programme “strikes at the heart” of many of the problems facing inner-city communities and residents and is built on six pillars which include: Social Empowerment (through the implementation of anti-poverty policies and practices); Economic Empowerment (through the creation of jobs and ownership opportunities for Bahamians), and Rejuvenation, improving the physical surroundings, including upgrades to historical and cultural assets.
Other initiatives include the Use of Smart Technology; the Empowerment of the Youth and Elderly by investing in social interventions; and the use of Green Technology.
A Town Meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, May 2, 2018, at the C.R. Walker Senior High School where the Prime Minister and members of the team will present the White Paper on the creation of an Economic Empowerment Zone to restore the Over-the-Hill Community.
“This White Paper will outline the tax incentives and nuances of how the programme will work to provide economic relief to the inner-city,” Press Secretary Newbold said. “What will also be discussed are some of the targeted programmes and initiatives to improve the lives of all residents in our inner-city communities.”
By: Matt Maura (BIS)
TCI Health Launches COVID Booster Shot program
#TurksandCaicos, October 6, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos Islands launches its COVID-19 vaccine booster programme commencing on Monday 4th October 2021. This comes following the approval by Cabinet, of the COVID-19 Booster Vaccine Strategy which was submitted by the Ministry of Health for consideration.
Members of Cabinet including the Governor, Deputy Governor, Honorable Premier, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health were in strong support of the vaccine booster strategy which will provide greater protection to those vulnerable individuals within the country who had previously been fully vaccinated more than six months ago and who are most at risk of severe effects of the disease.
1) Chronic non-communicable diseases clients
2) Elderly – Adults 50 years and over
3) Health care and frontline workers
4) Caregivers of the vulnerable
All persons in the groups listed above would have to have completed the two-dose series more than 6 months ago to be eligible for the booster dose of the vaccine. Eligible persons should reach out to their health care providers to schedule their booster dose.
The booster vaccine programme rolled out in the UK on 20.9.2021 and in the USA on 24.9.2021. On 9th September, Dr June Raine, Chief Executive of the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), which regulates medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion in the UK, issued the following statement; “We know that a person’s immunity may decline over time after their first vaccine course. I am pleased to confirm that the COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca can be used as safe and effective booster doses. This is an important regulatory change as it gives further options for the vaccination programme, which has saved thousands of lives so far. The regulatory decision followed a careful review of available data on safety and effectiveness of booster or supplementary vaccine doses by the MHRA and the independent Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), which advises the government.”
The TCI is currently progressing on its fifth tranche of the vaccine which was received from the UK and anticipates the receipt of additional doses of the vaccine to support the ongoing roll out of the vaccine to all eligible residents as well as the booster programme.
The vaccine is critical to the ongoing national response to the COVID19 pandemic. The vaccines are safe and can prevent severe illness requiring hospitalization. All eligible persons are encouraged to get vaccinated to continue protecting themselves, their loved ones and the wider community. All eligible persons who are unvaccinated are encouraged to take the vaccine.
JAMAICA: Bustamante Hospital for Children Gets Specialty Beds From Chase Fund
#Kingston, September 28, 2021 – A bed is one of the most important pieces of furniture in any healthcare facility and forms a large part of patient care and recovery. The Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund, through a generous donation of $4.4 million, has gifted the island’s only public children’s hospital, the Bustamante Hospital for Children (BHC), with 15 specialty beds.
“Those beds were used a day after they were delivered and have helped BHC tremendously, because they came when we started to see an increase in the patients,” Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the BHC, Camile Wallen-Panton, tells JIS News.
“The BHC, unlike other hospitals, has not been badly impacted by the patient load due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), but at the same time we have seen a rise in other illnesses,” she added.
Mrs. Wallen-Panton points out that the beds were allocated to the various wards and explains how they met the required bed specifications.
“The beds that we received were the right specifications. They have the required two-side rail that can be adjusted, and they also have safety wheels that can be locked to make the bed immobile. The beds are outfitted with an Intravenous (IV) stand and are beautifully coloured, which brightens the ward,” she notes.
The CEO shares that the donation was greatly welcomed by staff, patients and parents.
“It is very important that our local hospitals are fitted with adequate beds. You can see the added stress on the patients, parents and caregivers whenever there is a shortage of beds,” Mrs. Wallen-Panton says.
“Our patient load is always growing, and from time to time, furniture and equipment outlive their useful time and they must be taken out, so when an institution such as the CHASE Fund answers our needs, patient, parents and staff salute them. They have made a huge difference in how we serve,” she adds.
Mrs. Wallen-Panton highlights that the hospital administration believes continual improvements in patient care are crucial and welcomes partnerships and collaborations to achieve this.
“As the only dedicated children’s hospital that serves Jamaica and the other English-speaking Caribbean islands, the BHC has to be prepared at all times to accept referrals that require secondary care,” she explains.
“The hospital currently has 23 services, including emergency, medical and surgical, and the social services that cater to the holistic needs of the patients we serve, and we are always trying to find ways to improve on our service delivery,” she notes.
The CEO reiterates her appreciation of the CHASE Fund’s investment in the healthcare sector and wishes the entity success in all its current and future projects.
Acquisition of the beds for the BHC forms part of a larger project by CHASE Fund, valued at $110 million, to purchase beds for secondary-care institutions within the South-East Region.
The facilities include Kingston Public, Victoria Jubilee, Spanish Town, Linstead, Princess Margaret and National Chest Hospitals, Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre, and Hope Institute.
Meanwhile, CEO of the CHASE Fund, Billy Heaven, tells JIS News that the donation of beds to hospitals, including the BHC, falls under the CHASE Fund’s Health mandate.
“In funding health projects, we are always mindful of how many people a project will benefit, whether it will improve access to healthcare and will result in better healthcare delivery and how our intervention can improve efficiency and the overall health system in Jamaica,” Mr. Heaven says.
He notes that the CHASE Fund is pleased to have aided the operation of the only specialist paediatric hospital in the English-speaking Caribbean, which sees approximately 70,000 patients per year, catering to children from birth to 12 years of age.
By: Colleen Dawkins
Cuban Nationals Apprehended in Bahamian waters
#TheBahamas, June 24, 2021 – A group of Cuban Nationals are currently being detained at the Carmichael Road Detention Center after they were apprehended in the south west Bahamas by a US Coast Guard vessel earlier this week.
The fifteen individuals were captured after being sighted on Anguilla Cay on Tuesday 22 June. They were taken aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter, CHARLES SEXTON, and handed over shortly after 7:00 pm to the Defence Force patrol craft, HMBS DURWARD KNOWLES, under the command of Senior Lieutenant Jataro McDonald.
The Cubans were subsequently brought into the capital early Thursday morning, where they were handed over to the relevant authorities. The Cuban Embassy has since been notified.
The Royal Bahamas Defence Force continues to maintain a vigilant presence while patrolling and protecting the territorial waters of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and working with other law enforcement agencies.
Photos shows: Cuban nationals shortly after their arrival at the Defence Force Base, Coral Harbour on Thursday June 24, 2021. (RBDF Photo by Petty Officer Al Rahming)
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