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BAHAMAS: Government’s Progress Report for Grand Bahama, One Year Later

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#Bahamas, May 13, 2018 – Grand Bahama – While progress has been made in economically restoring the island of Grand Bahama, there is still a lot of work to be done, said Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson on Thursday, May 10.

Minister Thompson was addressing the performance of the government on their first anniversary of winning the government, having defeated the Progressive Liberal Party at the polls in May 2017.

With all five seats in Grand Bahama represented by the governing Free National Movement, the island now has the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest (MP for East Grand Bahama); Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Hon. Michael Pintard (MP for Marco City); Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Work, Iram Lewis (MP for Central Grand Bahama); Parliamentary Secretary of Information and Communication in the Office of the Prime Minister, Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe (MP for West Grand Bahama and Bimini); and Chairman of the Hotel Corporation of The Bahamas, Rev. Frederick McAlpine (MP for Pineridge).

Minister Thompson said, “To describe the one year in government for Grand Bahama — we have made significant progress, however, there is a lot more work to be done. I believe that throughout this year, there has been a lot of progress on a number of fronts and in a number of areas, however, there is much more work to be done in those areas.”

He mentioned the problem of youth unemployment that the island is faced with, explaining that the government continued some of the initiatives, expanded some and created some of their own to ensure that youth unemployment was focused upon.

Listing some of the programmes, he mentioned: the MSC programme, where 17 Bahamians have been trained to work on MSC cruise ships; the summer job programme, where over 500 young people were employed, being assisted with not only funding but on the job experience as well; and the nursing programme, in which approximately 20 nurses were trained.

Additionally, the repair of the softball park, as well as the track at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex were among successes listed

According to the Department of Statistics, said Minister Thompson, from May 2017 to November 2017 unemployment in Grand Bahama went from 12.4 to 12.1. Although the numbers are not great, he added, they are going in the right direction in that 1,080 more people were employed in Grand Bahama.

Entrepreneurship was another area of focus, in which small businesses were given  assistance and provided with financial advisement.

The Business to Business Workshop was started, and succeeded in bringing large and small companies together so that all participants could be informed of future and existing opportunities.  The ease of doing business was another area of focus.  The Minister said that a report from the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) indicates that the increase in business applications from January to present, has been more than in the previous eight years.

“That really goes to show that there is a significant increase in the confidence that investors have in Grand Bahama during this period of time.”

An Investment Unit is currently being created, he continued, and regular meetings are being held with the GBPA so that when investors come in, they are walked through the process.  Turning his attention to the tourism market, Minister Thompson said there is an added cruise ship from Bahamas Paradise Cruises coming to Grand Bahama from West Palm Beach daily with the introduction of the Grand Classica, which now joins the Grand Celebration.

Sunwing will provide additional flights to the island and starting this month, through Vacation Express, flights will come from Detroit, Chicago, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Newark, Baltimore, Cincinnati and Dallas. These flights, he added, will bring an additional 16,000 air passengers according to the Ministry of Tourism.

The government has also approved in principle the Grand Palm Beach Acquisitions Company initiative, a $2.8 million investment for West End, the old Ginn Project.  The government is currently negotiating a Heads of Agreement with the new owners.

“We have also continued negotiations for Grand Lucayan.  This is a significant project for Grand Bahama and really is the signature project for Grand Bahama. Significant progress has been made.  We genuinely had hoped that this would have been completed before this time, and did all within our power to have this deal completed.

“We’ve made progress; we’ve made significant progress on the deal. As we indicated, it’s not just about purchasing a hotel. But it is really about creating a new and unique destination for Grand Bahama. For too long, all we’ve been focused on is bringing in a new hotel and we believe that this is going to assist: we need to ensure that we have a destination, and one that is unique from the rest of The Bahamas.  That is what we’ve been focused on.”

Minister Thompson added that there were a number of issues that needed to be resolved namely how many employees would be on the property and how many of them would be Bahamian. Other areas included entertainment, concessions that might be granted, subsidies, and the name brand on the property.

“I believe we are in the final stages of that negotiation process and we believe that shortly we should have a signed deal and the renovations will begin shortly. Rest assured, we are committed, all of the members of Parliament are committed that the project moves forward and ensures that we have significant employment levels at that project.”

A new initiative, the technology hub, has also been a main focus. As a result of the summit held in November, as well as creation of the Technology Hub Steering Committee, whose plans have been submitted to Cabinet, a major venture conference which will be held in June of this year.  There were also trips where discussions were held with major technology companies. This, he said, resulted in a major conference that will be held in The Bahamas in 2019, bringing some 1,000 people.

The year ended on a positive note, he added, with the introduction of GIBC Digital, a company that has offices all over the world, and is currently vetting applicants to train and employ in Grand Bahama.  They will be spend some $2.5 million on the project and have indicated that their overall investment will be in the area of $50 million.

Another new initiative is the Apiculture programme in which 24 young people were trained in honey production. They have established their companies and produce honey, soaps, and candles, all made from honey in Grand Bahama.

The Minister mentioned existing businesses that have expanded or will be doing so shortly, and major companies from Nassau that will expand to Grand Bahama, including a Bahamian-owned major food store which plans a multi-million dollar development on the island.

“So, there has been progress, but there is still significant work that we must do,” said Minister Thompson.

Also present for the press conference were: Minister Pintard, Mr. Lewis and Mrs. Parker-Edgecombe.  Minister Turnquest was in Nassau and Rev. McAlpine was also off island.

 

By: Robyn Adderley (BIS)

Photo Caption:

Header: Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, the Hon. Kwasi Thompson said on Thursday, May 10, 2018 that while some things have been done, there is still a lot of work the government must do in Grand Bahama.  The government was elected on May 10, 2017.  Shown from left are: Parliamentary Secretary of Information and Communication in the Office of the Prime Minister, Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe (MP for West Grand Bahama and Bimini); Minister Thompson; Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Hon. Michael Pintard (MP for Marco City); and Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Works, Iram Lewis (MP for Central Grand Bahama).

(BIS Photo/Lisa Davis)

 

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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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