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PDM Administration announces budget increase for primary health care, goal to reduce overseas medical bills



Photo by Magnetic Media

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Thursday April 26, 2018 – The National Health Insurance Plan needs a phenomenal solution to heal its multi-million dollar shortages, and the PDM Administration says it intends to finance the plan it believes will deliver the health care system from its $4 million annual shortfall.

The plan, according to Government will be multi-pronged but will chiefly focus on reducing the expenditure of TAP or Treatment Abroad Program and secondary care at the TCI Hopsitals – combined the two categories account for 86 per cent of monies spent on health care.

Health Minister, Edwin Astwood said more money is coming, and its direction is shifting.

“My Government is prioritising the strengthening of primary health care through a number of initiatives, including an increase in budgetary provisions being made to recruit additional staff in this new financial year, which includes two additional medical officers, registered nurses and physiotherapists.” 

Already, explained the Minister on Monday, there are a greater number of services being offered at the InterHealth Canada managed, TCI Hospitals.  Still, government is aiming to make a significant dent in the 51% of revenue which is spent at the hospitals.

“A strong primary health care system is an essential component to any health care system and investment in this area has been lacking in the past.  However, my Government has seen it fit to prioritise primary health care once again in order to improve universal access to quality health care for all residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands,” said Hon. Astwood at the press conference held at the Office of the Premier in Provo.

Government talked about partnerships with healthy lifestyle centers in the country and announced a breakthrough for public health.

“…the operation of a mobile clinic, which will be the first time ever in the Turks and Caicos islands…” the Minister of Health, Human Services, Sports and Agriculture added, “…we are partnering with local, non-governmental organizations in order to educate the general public about healthy lifestyle practices, including the implementation of well balanced diets and regular exercise.” 

The initiatives are aimed at prevention and ensuring earlier detection of the lifestyle diseases which are not only claiming lives, but diminishing national productivity.

“It is hoped that with an emphasis on healthy lifestyles and prevention and control of non communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, we would realize a reduction in premature deaths and disabilities which may result from these conditions.”

The announcement of this more assertive action to shift the mindset of people to want to be healthier, subsequently making the nation, wealthier due to a reduction in medical costs, was delivered by Minister Edwin Astwood, who also explained another shift; where sports was added to his health portfolio.

“We look forward to a greater synergy in promoting physical activities at schools and throughout the country.  The school nutrition program has been approved in principle, by Cabinet, and is focused on health, nutrition and well being for our children.  In addition, the Department of Agriculture has been promoting its ‘Eat what you Grow and Grow what you Eat’ initiatives in our schools and communities…”

There is a review of the TAP, which absorbs 35% of medical costs paid by the National Health Insurance Plan and Government.  Minister Astwood said a submission is due for presentation at Cabinet in June 2018.  

“This will ensure that the provision for treatment that will fall outside the scope of the current National Health Insurance ordinance is reviewed as well as reviewing the mechanisms and procedures for clients requiring rehabilitation not available locally.”

The review will also consider higher cost clinical cases, the offer in the benefits package of the NHIP , the sustainability of the Treatment Abroad Program (TAP) and specialty treatment, especially for those struggling to lose weight.

Minister Edwin Astwood, who was joined by the Permanent Secretary for the ministry, Desiree Lewis said the results of the NHIP Actuarial Report, due to be completed in May will under gird the findings in the TAP Review.

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Bahamas News

Polio is back; 65 million missed shots in another COVID fall out



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer


#USA, August 4, 2022 – For the first time in almost a decade a new case of polio was recorded in the United States. The case which ended in paralysis emphasizes the danger the region faces as vaccination levels drop to 30-year lows.

The World Health Organization warned in early July explained that vaccination in the region of the Americas and the rest of world was dropping rapidly because of various spin off effects precipitated by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Over 65 million infants missed out on basic vaccines in the last three years thanks to disruptions in routine healthcare, lockdowns and other circumstances. The effects are already being felt as once eradicated disease like measles and polio are once again emerging.

The Pan American Health Organization announced earlier this year the Americas are now facing another measles outbreak after having been declared free of the disease in 2016.

Dr. Jarvis Barbosa, Assistant director of PAHO said vaccination levels are now as low as they were in 1994 for measles and polio and Brazil has had several outbreaks of measles.

In the case of the United States an unvaccinated young adult developed the disease after contact with another individual vaccinated with a live version of the vaccine.

The breakout polio case in the US sent shockwaves across the country because of the severe nature of the disease. Polio is an extremely dangerous disease with no known cure. It causes paralysis in as many as 1 in 200 infected and that paralysis is permanent.

Normally very few school age children would be at risk in the Americas as the vaccine is required to start school but with the gap in vaccinations many more children are now at risk.

Polio was one of the most feared diseases of the 20th century, paralyzing and killing hundreds of thousands, especially children. Thankfully vaccinated individuals are not at risk and as such the WHO is advising that the best way to protect against polio is vaccination.


Photo Caption:  Child in Benin takes Polio vaccine, UNSDG

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New Rules for Turks & Caicos JPs



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer


#TurksandCaicos, August 5, 2022 – Rules governing Justices of the Peace in the Turks and Caicos are now significantly stricter after the passing of the amendment to the Magistrates Amendment Bill in July 2022.

Despite the fact that Justices of the Peace are allowed the same powers as a magistrate previously the only requirement for their appointment was the discretion of the Governor and that they be under 65-years-old.

That power has now been transferred from the Governor to the Chief Justice.

Justices of the peace have always by law been allowed to receive complaints, sign charges and issue warrants for the apprehension of persons charged with criminal offenses. They can also issue search warrants summons and administer oaths.

Considering the potentially unchecked execution of these powers, the attorney general’s chambers lobbied for a change in the system.

“These are very wide powers and there is no framework for the supervision and regulation of the whole of justices of the peace in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

The amendment rectified this and the Chief Justice now has the power to make binding rules and regulations governing the appointment of JPs, a code of conduct disciplinary action and orientation and periodic training for JPs.

In addition, to maintain separation of powers the governor will be stripped of the power to disallow laws made by resident magistrates. That power now belongs to the Chief Justice.

Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles, TCI Attorney General maintained that the amendment was short but necessary.

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Young People in TCI are having sex, Rapport wants to ensure they’re doing it safe



By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff


#TurksandCaicos, August 5, 2022 – Young people in the Turks and Caicos are very sexually active and while there are no concrete statistics, the newest members of the Rapport all said “Yes” to the question about whether there is rampant sexual activity.

“As a young person I totally agree that they are having a lot of sex,” Arean Louis said.

This is particularly concerning given wider statistics point to a very young age group which is still contracting HIV/Aids.

“Caribbean statistics are showing that between the ages of 15 and 25 those have the highest amount of HIV rates.”

A five person delegation was this past  week representing the Turks and Caicos Islands at the International Aids Conference, staged in Montreal, Canada July 29 – August 2, 2022.

Young adult members of Rapport TCI all agree that youth in the TCI must be made aware of HIV and other STIs. Arean Louis, Denae Dennie and Arielle Neely spoke to Magnetic Media on their way to the International AIDS Conference.

All three agreed that our young people are having a lot of sex.

“I would say that our young people are having sec the only thing that I would say is I hope that they are letting their partners know their sexual history, their status, and that they’re being safe.” Dennie said.

Louis added, “As we talk about HIV and AIDS in the Turks and Caicos Islands we most definitely need to bring awareness to our young people because there is no set age— kids nowadays just like to experiment.”

He stressed safe sex, using protection and abstinence to maintain sexual health.

“What we aim to do is keep them safe here, we’re tired and we don’t want to see anymore STD and STI new cases in the Turks and Caicos.”

Dennie says she still thinks there is fear surrounding HIV but with education and protection, the world can get to zero new cases and it was something she was looking forward to.

The final member Arielle Neely explained that there were not enough tools and resources to educate youth.

“There are not enough tools or enough record to educate them. Our parents think they’re doing a good job by telling us don’t have sex but telling us don’t have sex isn’t enough. You have to teach us about birth control planned parenthood.”

The three members had high hopes for Rapport and stressed that they need more members to make an effective change on sexual health in the TCI.

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