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JAMAICA: Atomic Energy Agency has advanced Jamaica’s Nuclear Technology Capacity



#Kingston, August 13, 2018 – Jamaica – The Planning Institute of Jamaica’s (PIOJ) Director General, Dr. Wayne Henry, says the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been pivotal in advancing the country’s nuclear technology capacity.

He noted that the medical physics department at The University of the West Indies (UWI), which trains nuclear physicists across the region, was expanded under an IAEA project, and the organisation is providing €783,600 for the re-establishment of the Nuclear Medicine Centre, which will significantly enhance the country’s capacity to diagnose and treat cancer, heart and other related diseases.

The project is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Health, the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and the UWI’s Caribbean Institute for Health Research (formerly Tropical Medicine Research Unit).

Dr. Henry was speaking at the signing of Jamaica’s second five-year IAEA Country Programme Framework (CPF) for 2018 to 2023 at the PIOJ’s head office in New Kingston on Thursday (August 9).  He informed that the IAEA is supporting national projects to: determine the availability of adequate water resources in the Kingston hydrological basin; and optimise irrigation water management to improve crop output and water quality control in the Rio Cobre.

Agriculture has been targeted for the production of economically important crops such as onions and sweet pepper, to produce higher yields and better quality with resistance to disease and adverse climatic conditions and have shorter production cycles.

“This will help Jamaica to survive in the global marketplace and maintain its competitive advantage in certain food areas,” said the PIOJ head.

The scope of the assistance has also been extended to nutrition in children with the aim of promoting healthy growth by assessing the role of parenting and early life influences on body composition and energy expenditure.

The IAEA was established in 1957 with the aim of expanding and accelerating the contribution of atomic energy to global peace, health and prosperity.  Jamaica joined the IAEA in 1965, and benefited from support from the organisation, but it was the installation of the Slowpoke Nuclear Reactor at UWI, which opened the door that facilitated Jamaica’s entry into the agency’s technical cooperation programme.

In 2015 – just over 30 years after the reactor was commissioned – the reactor’s core was successfully converted from high-enriched uranium (HEU) to low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel, as part of a joint effort to eliminate the proliferation risks associated with HEU by the governments of Jamaica, the United States and Canada, with assistance from the IAEA.

“This has become world-renowned as this is the only research reactor in the English-speaking Caribbean,” Dr. Henry said.

He noted that under the diligent guidance of the IAEA, Jamaica graduated from the use of the technology at the International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences (ICENS) only, to much more extensive applications evidenced in a wide range of programmes and projects.

The IAEA’s support has also enabled passage of the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act, 2015 to, among other things, provide safeguards from exposure to ionising radiation, including misuse that may result in harm to persons or the environment; and facilitate Jamaica’s compliance with international obligations.  In addition, a Hazardous Substance Regulatory Authority has been established to monitor facilities utilising ionising radiation and nuclear technology.

“Undoubtedly, the IAEA’s wide-ranging and groundbreaking assistance continues to affirm the developmental use of nuclear technology… (as it) propels Jamaica towards achieving developed country status by 2030.  I express gratitude (on behalf of the Government) to the IAEA for helping Jamaica in achieving its development aspirations,” Dr. Henry said.

For his part, the IAEA’s Deputy Director General for Technical Cooperation, Dazhu Yang, who signed Jamaica’s new CPF along with Dr. Henry, said the agency supports partnership building in using nuclear technology in a safe and secure manner.

“We facilitate networking and cooperation among member states within and outside the region,” he added.

Jamaica’s new CPF will underpin engagements focusing on water and environment management; health and nutrition; food and agriculture; nuclear and radiation safety and security; energy; and industry over the period.  These are areas that were broadly covered under the initial CPF, which ran from 2010 to 2015.  A total of 170 countries are members of the IAEA, which is headquartered in Vienna, Austria.

The PIOJ serves as the National Liaison Office for the IAEA Cooperation Programme in Jamaica.


Release: JIS

Photo Captions: 

Header: Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) Director General, Dr. Wayne Henry (left), converses with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Deputy Director General for Technical Cooperation, Dazhu Yang, during Thursday’s (August 9) signing ceremony for Jamaica’s new five-year IAEA Country Programme Framework (CPF) at the PIOJ’s head office in New Kingston. The new CPF will run from 2018 to 2023.

Insert: Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) Director General, Dr. Wayne Henry, addressing Thursday’s (August 9) signing ceremony for Jamaica’s new five-year International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Country Programme Framework (CPF) at the PIOJ’s head office in New Kingston. The new CPF will run from 2018 to 2023.




Adrian Walker Photos




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Bahamas News

CARPHA Team undertakes Assessment of Guyana’s National Surveillance System for Non-communicable Diseases



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:

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Bahamas News

World Sight Day: Love Your Eyes



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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Bahamas News

TCI Premier and Tourism Minister lead delegation  at NABHOOD Summit



#TurksandCaicos, October 13, 2021 – The Hon. Premier, Charles Washington Missick and Hon. Josephine Connolly Minister for tourism attended the 8th Annual International Multicultural & Heritage Tourism Summit and Trade Show. This summit was held at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay Hotel from October 8th to 10th. The theme of this year’s Summit was ‘Gaining Economic Powers Through Multicultural Tourism’. The summit was held by the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers (NABHOOD)

Both the Hon. Premier and Minister for tourism were key panelist at the summit. The Premier sat with interviewer Vincent Vanderpool Wallace, former Minister of Tourism & Aviation of the Bahamas on a one on one interview entitled A conversation on The Turks and Caicos Islands. This discussion was extremely well received and allowed for the Premier to discuss factors attributing to the success of the Tourism industry in the islands and his vision for the sector.

Hon. Connolly joined a high caliber panel with three other industry experts on Saturday morning. Their discussion centered around Diversity in Tourism and the impact to the Destination. The Minister expanded on where Turks and Caicos’ industry was heading post pandemic, how it performed over the past months and insight into the future of Tourism in the Turks and Caicos Islands including the setting up of a Regulatory Authority and a Destination Management Organization.

Among others participating from the Turks and Caicos Islands were students and a chaperone from the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College Hospitality Program. The students had the opportunity to network with other US and Caribbean students at the summit.

It is clear that the growth of the Tourism sector in the TCI and the fact that we continue to perform well despite the challenges of COVID 19, is of interest to many. Also of note is the vision articulated by the Premier as he noted; ‘it is imperative that we provide opportunities within the Tourism sector for the growth of investment and local ownership. Turks and Caicos Islanders must benefit directly from the growth of this sector’. The Premier noted that much of his efforts will be to promote investment and ownership by Turks and Caicos Islanders as much as possible.

The Hon. Minister of Tourism stated her pride in representing the country and sector at this summit; ‘This is the first opportunity I have had to present our island on a panel for some time. This year despite COVID 19, we saw arrival numbers that even exceeded pre-COVID 19 during the summer months. I can say that our protocols, our partnerships, our pre-screening program and our COVID 19 marketing strategy all contributed to this success.’



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