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BAHAMAS: UB key to national development, PM says as he opens Franklyn R. Wilson Graduate Centre



#Bahamas, May 21, 2018 – Nassau – Delivering the Keynote Address at the Official Opening of the Franklyn R. Wilson Graduate Centre at the University of The Bahamas, Prime Minister Dr. the Hon Hubert A. Minnis said that the growth of the institution is essential to national development.

Named after the one of the university’s biggest contributors, Sir Franklyn Wilson, the state-of-the-art centre was constructed at a cost of $3 million – one million each from Sir Franklyn Wilson and Sharon, Lady Wilson, the Government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and the Royal Bank of Canada.  The auditorium at the centre is named the RBC Royal Bank Auditorium.

Also donating to the Centre were the Canadian Friends of the University of The Bahamas, and Sunshine Holdings Ltd., which facilitated construction and equipment of the centre.

The opening ceremony on Thursday, May 17, 2018 was also attended by Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, who participated in the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Unveiling of the Plaque along with the Wilson family members, representatives of RBC and other donors.

“This centre of excellence is designed to provide some of the critical resources necessary for students pursuing graduate degree programmes designed to give The Bahamas a competitive edge in the global marketplace,” the Prime Minister said.

The facility, the brainchild of Sir Franklyn, who is deemed a national philanthropist, has overseen the raising of over $1.5 million in scholarships to expand opportunities for college education, and he has worked to link business to the causes of reducing the incidence of cancer, improving general physical well-being and advancing sports tourism.

“Today’s inauguration of the Franklyn R. Wilson Graduate Centre at the University of The Bahamas is another milestone in the University’s efforts to offer graduate studies in a range of disciplines,” the Prime Minister said.

He added, “The ongoing institutional development and advancement of the University of The Bahamas is essential for national development.  Critical to this process are graduate and doctoral programs, inclusive of research, which may help in our national development.”

According to the Prime Minister, the new Graduate Centre is another example of how public-private partnerships may aid the common good.

“On behalf of the Government of The Bahamas I thank Sir Franklyn and Lady Wilson for their generous donation of $1 million dollars to make this centre a reality,” he said.

The Prime Minister thanked the donors for the role they played in the opening of the centre.  He pointed out that RBC has contributed to a number of charities as a corporate citizen; and is about to launch a 10-year, $500 million global initiative from the auditorium.  Called Future Launch, the global initiative is designed to close three critical gaps: helping youth get work experience, helping youth grow their network and helping youth gain new skills.

Sir Franklyn, a former chairman of the Council of The College of The Bahamas from 2002-2007, has a longstanding commitment to the country’s leading tertiary institution and to education.

“We are grateful for his many years of service to the development of The College of The Bahamas, which now enjoys university status because of the efforts of individuals like Sir Franklyn,” the Prime Minister said.

Sir Franklyn also helped to secure funding for a number of projects.  This included his personal donation of funds.

“I am advised that Sir Franklyn insisted on increasing the green spaces at this campus,” the Prime Minister said.

Over the many decades, Sir Franklyn and Lady Wilson have generously donated to a range of public and private initiatives and programs ranging from education to health and wellness.

“Their philanthropy, charitable work, and community service, are noteworthy and exemplary, and much appreciated,” the Prime Minister said.


By:  Lindsay Thompson (BIS)

Photo Caption: Official Opening of the Franklyn R. Wilson Graduate Centre at the University of The Bahamas on Thursday, May 17, 2018.  Viewing the commemorative plaque are from left: Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis, Governor General Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, Sir Franklyn Wilson, and Lady Wilson.

(BIS Photo/Peter Ramsay)



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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.

The strategy is based upon the UK guidelines and focuses on priority groups who would benefit from a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. These groups are as follows;

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.


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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.

The beds will improve the standard of care received by patients and shorten recovery time, thereby increasing bed availability for new patients.

“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




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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)

 (For further information please contact the RBDF Public Relations Department or visit our website:, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and view our Youtube channel)




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