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JAMAICA: Help For Coffee Farmers

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#Kingston, September 12, 2018 – Jamaica – Small coffee farmers who have been severely affected by the ongoing decline in the industry will now have access to $60 million, which has been donated by philanthropist and businessman, Michael Lee-Chin and his family.

The money, being made available through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), will assist the neediest of the 7,000 registered coffee farmers.  The announcement was made during a media briefing at the New Kingston offices of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries on Monday (September 10).

Under the arrangement, farmers will indicate to RADA what their immediate needs are in terms of tools and other supplies that can help to boost their productivity. RADA will then purchase the items required.

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, thanked Mr. Lee-Chin for the personal contribution, which will go towards the welfare of coffee farmers by helping them to “get back on their feet and help their families”.  He said that this short-term intervention is a welcome boost to the industry, which is “at a cross roads”, having declined dramatically over the past 25 years.

“We used to produce 700,000 boxes of Blue Mountain coffee. We are targeting 230,000 or 240,000 right now – that’s a pretty sharp decline,” he said, noting, as well, that 20,000 boxes of High Mountain coffee are now being produced, where it previously yielded 400,000 boxes.

With coffee price at as low as $4,000 per box last year, Mr. Shaw lamented that the country’s farmers do not have much bargaining power and have no control over market prices.

“It is most unfortunate that while the demand for coffee consumption globally has either been steady or generally increasing, our coffee industry is going in the opposite direction. Something has to be done about it,” he stressed.

The Minister noted that even though the industry is now privatised, the Government is still committed to working with stakeholders to ensure the industry is resuscitated.

“Government still has responsibility, in our view, for facilitation and for the aggressive promotion of the coffee industry.  It’s another one of our unique products; we have to promote it to the hilt,” he said.

He said the Administration will ensure the continued integrity of the product; continue to provide technical support, extension services and technology transfer for small farmers; and provide general industry development.

The intervention was initiated by Member of Parliament for East Rural St. Andrew, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness, who said she approached Mr. Lee-Chin last week to outline the plight of coffee farmers and to seek his assistance.

“This one-time gift to the farmers means that many are going to be comfortably able to send their children back to school this term, and many will be in a position to be able to access, through RADA, some amount of assistance,” she said.

Mrs. Holness noted that farmers she has interacted with have requested a tractor for them to share between their communities; a truck to transport their coffee to market; and well as pesticides, fungicides and fertiliser.

For his part, Mr. Lee-Chin said he is aware that the Government does not have the fiscal space to provide relief, and, therefore, the gift is “a stop-gap solution to the plight faced by our farmers” in an industry that “is in crisis”.

 

Release: JIS

 

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Bahamas News

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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Bahamas News

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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Bahamas News

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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