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$64 million school of medicine will help Grand Bahama to rebuild



#Freeport, GB, October 23, 2019 – Bahamas – A $64 million Heads of Agreement was signed on Monday, October 21, between the Government of The Bahamas and Western Atlantic University School of Medicine.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis, was accompanied to Freeport by Minister of Education, the Hon. Jeffrey Lloyd and Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. Duane Sands.  Also present was Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson; Ian Rolle, president of the Grand Bahama Port Authority; senior government officials as well as Peter Goetz, CEO and Managing Member of Western Atlantic University and staff members from Western Atlantic.

Western Atlantic University will offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in allopathic medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, osteopathy and nursing, and nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant programmes.

Prime Minister Minnis said that over the past two months, since the devastation of Hurricane Dorian in Abaco and Grand Bahama, the government and international partners have focused on rebuilding the communities and lives of those affected. “Today’s signing is an important part of the recovery effort.  In order to rebuild Grand Bahama and Abaco, we must spur economic development and job-creation.

“This development represents a significant investment in Grand Bahama, the country’s second largest economy. It is estimated that in the University’s first 10 years of operation, student and faculty spending on housing, food, entertainment, goods and on-island transportation, will provide a combined $200 million in revenue for Grand Bahama. At the peak of construction, 150 jobs will be created. During the full operation of the campus, approximately 200 permanent jobs will be created for Bahamians.”

 The development is expected to inject hundreds of millions of dollars into the Grand Bahama community while also providing direct and indirect opportunities for residents.

“It will help Grand Bahama to rebuild.”

It is expected that the facility will include university-owned housing for faculty, staff and students on campus. Also expected onsite will be on-campus businesses, including a bookstore, cafeteria and a student center providing music, food, beverages, a copy center and related services. Western Atlantic intends to build its own campus on land to be leased from the Public Hospitals Authority.

The 50 acres are located south of Jack Hayward High School and will be developed in multiple phases over the next 10 years. A $64 million investment is expected during the first phase, which will involve the construction of 98,000 square feet of classrooms, offices, lab facilities, maintenance, security and related spaces.

Construction will begin on the first phase by the end of this year.

Western Atlantic, said the Prime Minister, has agreed to have an 80 percent Bahamian workforce during the construction phase. “The University is committed to recruiting qualified Bahamians for all posts, including faculty positions. Whenever possible, and when candidates present nearly identical skills, experience and qualifications, the University will adopt a “Bahamians First” mantra. The primary purpose of this mantra is if everything is equal between multiple candidates for a position, the University, at its discretion, will seek to hire Bahamians before any ex-pats applying for the same position.

The University will offer employment positions to Bahamians for all non-faculty staff that encompass a breadth of disciplines. This includes management positions and opportunities for advancement at a ratio of 80 percent Bahamian to 20 percent non-Bahamian.  Western Atlantic will also work closely with the Government and local communities to develop training and professional development programs for Bahamians who want to work during the operation of the campus.”

In order for the campus to become operational, they must obtain accreditation from the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions (CAAM-HP), or an equivalent body.

Five scholarships will be available to Bahamians through the Ministry of Education.

In closing, the Prime Minister added, “Grand Bahama has started to rebuild. Essential services are being restored. Clean-up efforts continue. A number of businesses and restaurants are back up and running. Cruise ships have started to call again. Port Lucaya has re-opened. Earlier this month, the Grand Lucayan started to welcome guests back to the property.  In September, the Government signed an agreement for the development of a $100 million cruise port in Freeport.

“All of Grand Bahama is now designated as a Special Economic Recovery Zone. And small businesses have started the process of receiving assistance from the Small Business Development Centre. Grand Bahama has re-opened for business. But there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done to restore and to rebuild Grand Bahama. Many Grand Bahamians lost their homes and livelihoods. Many are still mourning the loss of loved ones. We have a long road ahead of us for recovery and reconstruction. But we are making progress. Today’s signing is yet another indication of the progress we are making together.”

Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson noted, “The Prime Minister has made it clear that a significant part of our rebuilding process is to accelerate the progress of investments which will bring economic activity, critical mass of residents, and jobs for Bahamians.”

Through partnerships such as this, he said, Grand Bahama will not only recover, “but grow stronger than ever before.”

By Robyn Adderley

Release: BIS

Photo Caption: A Heads of Agreement was signed on Monday, October 21, 2019 between the Government of The Bahamas and Western Atlantic University School of Medicine. Construction on the first phase of the $64 million project is expected to begin at the end of the year. Shown following the ceremony in the foyer of the Office of the Prime Minister in Freeport from left are: the Hon. Dr. Duane Sands, Minister of Health; Dr. Tom Shepherd, Senior Executive Policy Advisor, WAUSM; the Hon. Jeffrey Lloyd, Minister of Education; Peter Goetz, CEO and Managing Member, WAUSM; the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis, Prime Minister; Terrance Gape, attorney, Dupuch and Turnquest; Senator the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson, Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister; Dr. John Flaherty, President, WAUSM; Senator Jasmin Dareus; and Ian Rolle, President, Grand Bahama Port Authority.

(BIS Photo/Yontalay Bowe)

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

RBDF Congratulates Retired Commander Defence Force on National Honour Award 



#TheBahamas, October 13, 2021 – The Royal Bahamas Defence Force congratulates Commodore Retired Leon Livingstone Smith, who was a recipient of the 2021 National Honours Awards on October 11, 2021. 

During a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street, Commodore Smith was presented with the Order of Distinction within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, by Governor-General, the Most Honorable Sir Cornelius A. Smith. Also in attendance were his daughter, Mrs. Italia Seymour, and the Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King.

Commodore Smith was one of sixteen other deserving individuals recognized on National Heroes Day for the vast contributions they made to the development of the country. The first Bahamian Officer to be appointed as Commander Defence Force, he is the longest-serving Commodore to serve this office from 1983 to 1997.

Throughout his military career, he received numerous awards and accolades, and his career in public life spanned over forty years, and on September 19, 2014, an RBDF Legend Class Vessel bearing his name was commissioned. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force is truly grateful for the devoted services of Commodore Smith to the organization and his country.

Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King extends congratulations on his behalf of the members of his Executive Command, Officers, Senior Enlisted, and Junior Enlisted members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, to Commodore Retired Leon Smith, on his great accomplishment.


Header:  Commodore Retired Leon Smith being presented with the Order of Distinction within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, by Governor-General, the Most Honorable Sir Cornelius A. Smith on October 11, 2021, during a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street.

Insert: Commodore Retired Leon Smith along with recipients of the 2021 National Honours Awards on October 11, 2021, during a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street.

(RBDF Photos by Able Seaman Paul Rolle II)


(For further information please contact the RBDF Public Relations Department or visit our website:, follow us on FacebookTwitter and view our Youtube channel) 




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