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BAHAMAS: Long Island Descendants Receive British Empire Medal for Service



#Nassau, September 21, 2018 – Bahamas – Her Excellency the Most Hon. Dame Marguerite Pindling, Governor General, presented the British Empire Medal (BEM) to Captain Vernon Ritchie and Bennett D. Minnis during the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours and Investiture ceremony, Thursday, September 20, 2018.

The brief ceremony was attended by family, members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force along with well-wishers including the Hon. Marvin Dames, Minister of National Security, at Mount Fitzwilliam, Government House.  Julie Bingham, daughter of Captain Ritchie, accepted the award on her father’s behalf.

In her remarks, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the Governor General, Anita Beneby said the two honourees, who are both descendants of Long Island, have contributed to the development of The Bahamas and its people.

“They are men whose lives are illustrious, not because of title, profession or office, but because of their dedicated public, business and community service,” said Mrs. Beneby.

She added that the award brings national recognition to the work they have done and the service they have rendered on a local level over many years.

“It is most gratifying that you have agreed to accept this honour.  You have earned it and certainly have every right to be proud.”

Captain Ritchie, 80, has sailed the high seas for almost 43 years.  He attained the rank of Master Mariner before the age of 25, at a time when this title was held by very few Bahamians.  He has spent decades sailing the on the oceans and seas and experiencing what so many have only read in books.  His travels throughout the archipelago provided an understanding and appreciation for the beauty, creativity and resilience of Bahamians.

A nationalist at heart, Captain Ritchie helped to build the country by sharing his knowledge and skills with younger generations.  For more than 20 years he visited the male residents of the Geriatric Department of Sandilands Rehabilitation Hospital where he prayed and fellowshipped with them.  He also imparted his knowledge of navigation and other topics to young men.

Captain Ritchie is married to Maxine (nee Burrows) Ritchie and is the father of three daughters and two sons.  Bennett Minnis is a Certified Licensed Plumber and a self-employed businessman.  He is a civic-minded community worker and activist whose charitable pursuits on behalf of the elderly and youth have become hobbies.  He has served as a member of the Town Planning Board, the Hotel Licensing Board and the Real Property Tax Board.  He presently serves on the board of the Water and Sewerage Corporation.

Mr. Minnis is an Anglican who presently serves on the Vestry of Christ the King Anglican Church, and is a member of the Anglican Church Men.  He is married to Virginia Minnis and the father of 3 daughters.

Police Corporal Hield and Police Corporal Pinder serenaded the honourees with a solo, and members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force Pop Band provided music for the event.

A reception followed on the terrace.


Release: BIS

Photo Captions:

Header: Her Excellency the Most Hon. Dame Marguerite Pindling, Chancellor and Governor General, is pictured centre along with recipients of the British Empire Medal (centre left) Bennett Minnis, and (centre right) Julie Bingham, who accepted on behalf of her father, Captain Vernon Ritchie.

Also pictured are members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force at the Queen’s Honours Investiture 2018 at Government House, September 20, 2018.




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Bahamas News

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



#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



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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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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