#Bahamas, May 04, 2018 – Nassau – Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis became the first Bahamian to receive the prestigious Pan-American Health Organization’s ‘Public Heath Hero Award of the Americas’ at a PAHO award ceremony at Government House on Wednesday evening, May 2, 2018.
Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis commended the role Dr. Dahl-Regis has played in the great strides that have been made in Bahamian health care. The esteemed award was presented to Dr. Dahl-Regis by Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director of PAHO and WHO Regional Director for the Americas. According to Dr. Minnis, the observance provides the opportunity for the country to reflect on its post-independence journey, with respect to health care, as it nears the 45th year independence anniversary.
Dr. Dahl-Regis is a Bahamian public health pioneer known locally and regionally for her work in advancing disease elimination through immunization, over many years.
“It is a matter of great pride that through the technical expertise of Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, The Bahamas has been able to make significant contributions to this work of PAHO in interventions associated with efforts to eliminate vaccine-preventable diseases.” the Prime Minister said.
He noted that since Independence, The Bahamas has seen tremendous progress in the provision of health care. But the emerging trend of prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs) is undermining progress and has led to dramatic new challenges.
“The treatment of medical conditions related to CNCDs requires public funding which could be allocated to other priority areas of health care delivery. CNCDs have implications for the productivity of the workforce due to illness and disability — all contributing to the undermining of our country’s potential for further economic growth and national development,” the Prime Minister said.
In this vein, he said just as his government is committed to sustaining the gains in immunization coverage against communicable diseases, it is also committed to further reducing the need for hospitalization as a result of complications associated with CNCDs.
The Ministry of Health has recently announced initiatives to further promote healthier food choices and combat sedentary lifestyles. It is emphasizing the message of prevention and anticipates that in the long-term, these initiatives will enable more Bahamians to lead healthier and longer lives.
“We regard this as a war against CNCDs including the risk factor of obesity, as one that we can win,” the Prime Minister said. “It is not however, one to be fought exclusively by the Ministry of Health.”
The government’s vision includes an emphasis on personal responsibility and a variety of social and health policies geared toward directing choices to avoid ill health and obesity. The Prime Minister expressed “deep appreciation” to PAHO for its ongoing support in numerous aspects of public health programming and policy.
PAHO, which serves as the regional office of the World Health Organization, is the oldest public health organization in the world.
“The technical assistance it provides to its member states is noteworthy in a region where most of its members are categorized as developing economies,” the Prime Minister said.
It is a matter of great pride that through the technical expertise of Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, The Bahamas has been able to make significant contributions to this work of PAHO in interventions towards eliminating vaccine-preventable diseases.
By: Lindsay Thompson (BIS)
Photo Caption: Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, fourth left, next to Governor General Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, became the first Bahamian to receive the prestigious Pan-American Health Organization Public Heath Hero Award of the Americas. The honour was conveyed at a PAHO award ceremony in the Ballroom at Government House on Wednesday. Pictured from left: Dr. Esther de Gourville, Prime Minister Minnis, Dr. Carissa Etienne, Dr. Dahl-Regis, Dame Marguerite Pindling, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands, and Dr. Merle Lewis.
(BIS Photo/Peter Ramsay)