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Minister Dames: Bahamas not Immune to Cyber Crimes

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#Bahamas, May 14, 2018 – Nassau – During his remarks at the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation’s (BCCEC) Cyber Security Forum, on May, 10, 2018, Minister of National Security the Hon. Marvin Dames noted that while The Bahamas, being a member of the global community, has embraced cyber opportunities, it is, of course, not immune to the negative effects of cyber crimes.

“With a population of less than 400,000 persons, a study conducted by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 2016 revealed that approximately 333,143 or 84 percent of the total population accessed the internet at home or via other device types and connections,” Minister Dames said at the event, which was held at the Island House.   “Last year approximately 171 incidences of cyber crimes were reported in The Bahamas, compared to 95 in 2016.

“The cyber activity reflected an 80 percent increase and was inclusive of the crimes such as credit card fraud, identity theft, ransom ware, phishing attacks and data loss, all of which are expected to become more common in the future.”

Minister Dames said that, in The Bahamas, there are three vital legislative regulations that govern cyber security.

“The Computer Misuse Act (CMA) which was instituted in 2003 — this Act provides comprehensive criminalization of and procedural law for cyber criminal activity in the country,” he said.  “Parliament also signed the Data Protection Act (2003) and the Electronic Communication & Transactions Act (2006).”

Both laws, Minister Dames pointed out, safeguard the rights of citizens online and establish norms and regulations for e-commerce and other online services.  However, he said, much more work remains and the government is committed to providing the necessary safety and intelligence that will make all safer tomorrow than they were at that time.

“This is of paramount importance because, according to the Organization of American States Cyber Security Report 2016, Latin America and the Caribbean both have the fastest growing Internet populations in the world,” Minister Dames said.  “While the region accounts for only a small percentage of global cyber crimes, and with the continued rise of Internet use, corresponding cyber security threats highlight the need for the development of effective cyber policies and defenses.”

He noted that the OAS report also asserts that regionally, several large scale data breaches showed that cyber crime remains rampant and threats from cyber criminals continue to menace government, businesses and individual users.

“Our Government is cognizant of the fact that much work remains if we are to properly address the cyber security challenges that we now face,” he said. “We have already taken decisive action to address this issue.

Minister Dames added: “Since addressing your confederation in November 2017, the Royal Bahamas Police Force has formulated a new Cyber Security Unit by combining the Tracing & Forfeiture Section of the Drug Enforcement Unit with the Commercial Crime Section at the Central Detective Unit.  In the future, we hope to develop a National Cyber Security Strategy that will aim to fortify the country’s data protection capability by strengthening the cyber crime legislation.  The expectation is to protect key industries such as government services, health, utilities, financial services, and container ports from criminal enterprises and criminal activity.”

Minister Dames stated that the global reliance on cyber activities will increase in this century and beyond, and as a tool, the Internet is expected to facilitate multiple legal activities. However, he noted, coupled with that will be cyber criminals using the limitless virtual world to commit cyber crimes.

“The challenge as it relates to cyber security in the 21st century means that by 2020 it is expected that 80 percent of all countries will have cyber security policies and it is expected that 30 percent will have Cabinet or senior government level positions solely focused on cyber security,” he said. “Rest assured that the Ministry of National Security is the vanguard of addressing both the national and international safety and security concerns of citizens, residents and visitors within The Bahamas, while being cognizant that we are a part of the global community.”

Minister Dames reassured those in attendance that the Government viewed cyber security as a serious threat to national security, economic development and way of life.

“Henceforth, we will strategically collaborate with our national, regional and global partners to promote cyber security,” he said.  I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage business owners and the general public to safeguard your data, money and identities from cyber criminals, as much as possible.

“We will use every tool at our disposal to secure our nation’s cyber security and ensure that we are safer today than we were yesterday.”

 

By: Eric Rose (BIS)

Photo Caption: Minister of National Security the Hon. Marvin Dames speaks, on May 10, 2018, during the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation’s (BCCEC) Cyber Security Forum, held at the Island House.

(BIS Photos/Eric Rose)

 

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Statement From Hon. Fred Mitchell, MP Minister of Foreign Affairs On the Passing of Colin Powell

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#TheBahamas, October 18, 2021 – I learned this morning  of the death of Colin Powell, the American general and diplomat. I worked with him as Foreign Minister in my first term, particularly on issues related to Haiti.

Yesterday in the CARICOM meeting, I recalled while discussing Haiti his role in the crisis of that time. I recall his life, times and work as generally thoughtful and considered. He was also an example of Caribbean success in America, one to emulate. He was the son of Jamaican parents. He was an example of success as a Black man in America. I am saddened by his passing.

On behalf of the Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis, the government and people of The Bahamas, and in my own behalf, I extend condolences to the United States of America and his family.

 

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Commonwealth of The Bahamas

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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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