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TCI father says, “I tried everything” as he talked about feeling abandoned by TCI Gov’t and NHIP in saving his little girl



#Providenciales, August 28, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – A Turks and Caicos family today, tearfully shared their traumatic experience of trying to get medical care for their young daughter, who was diagnosed with lung cancer after being moved from hospital to hospital and who tragically died on July 17; now, that family just wants Zharyia Lavonne to be flown home from England.

Even the return of six-year-old Zharyia Stubbs to the Turks and Caicos Islands has reportedly been botched by those whom the family entrusted with the process. 

The funeral home in the United Kingdom and the National Health Insurance Board in the TCI had all of the requisite documents, media was told, three weeks before the funeral date.  Still there was a confusion that led to a delay which resulted in the child missing her own funeral, which was to be held this past Saturday August 24, 2019 at Jericho Baptist Church.

Ira Stubbs is Zharyia’s father and he explained that both he and his wife, Zshanai have been contributors to the National Health Insurance Plan for years and yet, when the time came for urgent, life-saving medical care for their youngest child, the system failed miserably.  Mr. Stubbs said he felt abandoned and that the string of letdowns caused his daughter her life.

Zharyia began visiting the hospital for respiratory problems when she was just three-years-old.  Mr. Stubbs said he suspected her problem to be asthma as the family has a long history of the condition.  However, according to diagnoses, her condition was not asthma and eventually Zharyia was flown to Doctors’ Hospital in Nassau, Bahamas.

Mr. Stubbs said he was satisfied with the treatment there.

Zharyia was healthier after her time at hospital in Nassau and the referral by Doctors’ Hospital for further medical attention was to a respiratory specialist. 

The family explained that with no lung specialist at Doctors’ Hospital and none in the Turks and Caicos, arrangements were made by the National Health Insurance Plan for the child to see the recommended specialist in the Dominican Republic.  In the DR, the service was described as terrible; there was a language barrier and there was no translator to help the family transition.

Mr. Stubbs also accused the health practitioners in the Dominican Republic of being corrupt in some instances and, he reported that they gave his child subpar medical care.  Suspected errors in Zharyia’s treatment, including medication with which her father did not agree all worked to cause his daughter’s condition to worsen, believes Ira Stubbs.

In the Dominican Republic was where Zharyia received the diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer.

Father, mother and three siblings told the story and responded to questions in a press conference held this morning at Hemmingway’s Restaurant at the Sands at Grace Bay in Providenciales.  The family was given a week’s accommodation at the Sands by the Hartlings as help in this time of desperate need.

Funds, said Mr Stubbs, are depleted and now he plans to wait for Zharyia to be transported home and then it will be back to the United Kingdom, to get his three other young children settled into school.

In the account, Mr. Stubbs said his daughter was bounced from health care institution to health care institution in a system that failed his family; The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Canada and the United Kingdom were cited in his report.

In Canada, care was really good, Mr. Stubbs said.  Zharyia was airlifted to Toronto from the Dominican Republic due to her father’s relentlessness in getting help.  That pursuit took him to the Premier and Finance Minister, Sharlene Robinson who intervened and got approval for Zharyia and both her parents to be medically evacuated to a children’s hospital in Toronto.

Again, there was a hitch when only one parent was allowed to go and when it took one week before the medical team from Canada could stabilize Zharyia in order for her to travel.  There had been questions, said Mr. Stubbs, about the quality of care for Zharyia in the DR by the Canadian medics.

Help for the child was good in at the children’s hospital but it was also limited.  A lung transplant was seen as the only way Zharyia would survive and go on to live a healthy, normal life. 

Again, her father Ira Stubbs, began working.  Dropping off sponsor letters and writing to people and telling his story to media all in the hopes that it would help to raise the profile of the case and raise the $320,000 necessary for the transplant.

Once again, it meant a move for the now, five-year-old little girl who her father said was in excruciating pain.  Her trip home to Providenciales, said Ira Stubbs, was meant to be a maximum 30-days.  Instead it was three months and hindered, reported the family by an unwillingness for the child’s ‘soon to expire’ TCI passport to be fast-tracked or for other arrangements to be made, so that she could travel for medical care.

According to Mr. Stubbs, his daughter picked up on the delays and the frustrations and asked, at one point, ‘why did they do this to me, please continue fighting!’

Those were the moments in the press conference when both mother and father were awash in tears, long pauses by her father to quell the crying and all of the family members at the table were donning t-shirts featuring a radiant portrait of Zharyia; bright eyes and big smile.

“I feel they abandoned us and a vulnerable child,” said Mr. Stubbs.

Eventually, Zharyia made it to further care in the United Kingdom but there too, the Stubbs family felt abandoned by the Turks and Caicos Islands government and the National Health Insurance Plan.

For 30-days the family lived out of a car.  Immigration issues forced a marriage between mother and father in order to bring swift resolve and that flash wedding was said to have taken place at the hospital according to Mr. Stubbs. 

By now Zharyia, who wanted to becoming a doctor was surviving with the help of a ventilator and soon it was clear that money and the transplant were not coming.

Zharyia died on Wednesday July 17, 2019 at 7pm at the Great Ormand Street Hospital for Children (GOSH) in the UK. 

Medical records, request for a new consultant and the autopsy after Zharyia’s death were all met with little to no response from GOSH, said Mr. Stubbs, who also expressed his disdain for the hospital in London.

“We reported in emails, the mental and physical abuse to NHIP,” but we got no support from NHIP.

It was a complicated story, laced with strong charges and the overwhelming distress of the loss of a child.  The family has also received no counselling and feels out of options.

Mr. Stubbs said he wants his daughter home as promised.  Mr. Stubbs said he also needs financial help to get back on his feet and believes $5,000 is sufficient to pay the penalty on airline tickets and get the family re-settled in the UK.

There was another request to the public for that financial assistance.

Magnetic Media has contacted the National Health Insurance Board; Public Relations executive Joddy Harvey has been responsive and promised there would be some communication on this complex and distressing matter.




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Bahamas News

Polio is back; 65 million missed shots in another COVID fall out



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer


#USA, August 4, 2022 – For the first time in almost a decade a new case of polio was recorded in the United States. The case which ended in paralysis emphasizes the danger the region faces as vaccination levels drop to 30-year lows.

The World Health Organization warned in early July explained that vaccination in the region of the Americas and the rest of world was dropping rapidly because of various spin off effects precipitated by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Over 65 million infants missed out on basic vaccines in the last three years thanks to disruptions in routine healthcare, lockdowns and other circumstances. The effects are already being felt as once eradicated disease like measles and polio are once again emerging.

The Pan American Health Organization announced earlier this year the Americas are now facing another measles outbreak after having been declared free of the disease in 2016.

Dr. Jarvis Barbosa, Assistant director of PAHO said vaccination levels are now as low as they were in 1994 for measles and polio and Brazil has had several outbreaks of measles.

In the case of the United States an unvaccinated young adult developed the disease after contact with another individual vaccinated with a live version of the vaccine.

The breakout polio case in the US sent shockwaves across the country because of the severe nature of the disease. Polio is an extremely dangerous disease with no known cure. It causes paralysis in as many as 1 in 200 infected and that paralysis is permanent.

Normally very few school age children would be at risk in the Americas as the vaccine is required to start school but with the gap in vaccinations many more children are now at risk.

Polio was one of the most feared diseases of the 20th century, paralyzing and killing hundreds of thousands, especially children. Thankfully vaccinated individuals are not at risk and as such the WHO is advising that the best way to protect against polio is vaccination.


Photo Caption:  Child in Benin takes Polio vaccine, UNSDG

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New Rules for Turks & Caicos JPs



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer


#TurksandCaicos, August 5, 2022 – Rules governing Justices of the Peace in the Turks and Caicos are now significantly stricter after the passing of the amendment to the Magistrates Amendment Bill in July 2022.

Despite the fact that Justices of the Peace are allowed the same powers as a magistrate previously the only requirement for their appointment was the discretion of the Governor and that they be under 65-years-old.

That power has now been transferred from the Governor to the Chief Justice.

Justices of the peace have always by law been allowed to receive complaints, sign charges and issue warrants for the apprehension of persons charged with criminal offenses. They can also issue search warrants summons and administer oaths.

Considering the potentially unchecked execution of these powers, the attorney general’s chambers lobbied for a change in the system.

“These are very wide powers and there is no framework for the supervision and regulation of the whole of justices of the peace in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

The amendment rectified this and the Chief Justice now has the power to make binding rules and regulations governing the appointment of JPs, a code of conduct disciplinary action and orientation and periodic training for JPs.

In addition, to maintain separation of powers the governor will be stripped of the power to disallow laws made by resident magistrates. That power now belongs to the Chief Justice.

Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles, TCI Attorney General maintained that the amendment was short but necessary.

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Young People in TCI are having sex, Rapport wants to ensure they’re doing it safe



By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff


#TurksandCaicos, August 5, 2022 – Young people in the Turks and Caicos are very sexually active and while there are no concrete statistics, the newest members of the Rapport all said “Yes” to the question about whether there is rampant sexual activity.

“As a young person I totally agree that they are having a lot of sex,” Arean Louis said.

This is particularly concerning given wider statistics point to a very young age group which is still contracting HIV/Aids.

“Caribbean statistics are showing that between the ages of 15 and 25 those have the highest amount of HIV rates.”

A five person delegation was this past  week representing the Turks and Caicos Islands at the International Aids Conference, staged in Montreal, Canada July 29 – August 2, 2022.

Young adult members of Rapport TCI all agree that youth in the TCI must be made aware of HIV and other STIs. Arean Louis, Denae Dennie and Arielle Neely spoke to Magnetic Media on their way to the International AIDS Conference.

All three agreed that our young people are having a lot of sex.

“I would say that our young people are having sec the only thing that I would say is I hope that they are letting their partners know their sexual history, their status, and that they’re being safe.” Dennie said.

Louis added, “As we talk about HIV and AIDS in the Turks and Caicos Islands we most definitely need to bring awareness to our young people because there is no set age— kids nowadays just like to experiment.”

He stressed safe sex, using protection and abstinence to maintain sexual health.

“What we aim to do is keep them safe here, we’re tired and we don’t want to see anymore STD and STI new cases in the Turks and Caicos.”

Dennie says she still thinks there is fear surrounding HIV but with education and protection, the world can get to zero new cases and it was something she was looking forward to.

The final member Arielle Neely explained that there were not enough tools and resources to educate youth.

“There are not enough tools or enough record to educate them. Our parents think they’re doing a good job by telling us don’t have sex but telling us don’t have sex isn’t enough. You have to teach us about birth control planned parenthood.”

The three members had high hopes for Rapport and stressed that they need more members to make an effective change on sexual health in the TCI.

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