October 20, 2019 – FROM DISTRIBUTING CRITICALLY NEEDED EMERGENCY ITEMS TO PROVIDING CLEAN WATER TO CARING FOR INJURED AND SICK PATIENTS, OUR TEAMS ARE SERVING IN JESUS’ NAME.
Roland counted 15 dead bodies floating in the water the day after Hurricane Dorian finally released the Abaco Islands from its deadly grip. The storm completely flattened every home in Roland’s neighbourhood.
“Nothing is here. I have no place to live. I have no job,” he said.
The restaurant where Roland worked is gone. The church where he leads Bible study and sometimes preaches is barely standing.
During the storm, Roland and his family took shelter at the church along with about 300 other people. But when the roof started ripping off and the water was almost waist high, they knew they were in trouble.
While the eye of the hurricane passed over, Roland and the group at the church fled to a nearby government building. If they had not relocated to a safer structure, Roland can’t bear to think of the likely outcome.
“God saved us. Only God saved us,” he said. “Some church members died because they didn’t evacuate. Some members, we don’t even know where they are.”
Samaritan’s Purse provided Roland and the church, which is a community distribution centre, with emergency relief items including hygiene kits, tarp, and solar lights. “Thank you for everything you do for us,” Roland said. “It’s a blessing.”
Samaritan’s Purse continues to serve families in the Bahamas more than one month after the Category 5 storm devastated the islands.
Our DC-8 cargo plane recently made its 18th trip to the Bahamas, having now delivered a total of 360 tonnes of critically needed emergency relief supplies. We are distributing heavy-duty shelter material (tarp), hygiene kits, kitchen kits, generators, blankets, jerry cans, and solar lights. We have also supplied more than 400,000 litres of clean water.
In addition to ongoing distributions from our base at Marsh Harbour in the Abacos, we are transporting emergency relief items by helicopter to numerous remote communities.
Recently, Samaritan’s Purse volunteers began working on Man-O-War Cay, one of the hardest-hit areas on the Abacos. Volunteers are covering roofs, clearing debris, and doing mud-outs at flooded homes.
Our Emergency Field Hospital also remains up and running in Freeport as our team of medical specialists provides quality treatment, including surgical care, for patients in desperate need. To date, we have seen more than 5,200 patients since the hospital opened on 10 Sept.
Clean Water for Hurricane Survivors
About one hour from Marsh Harbour is Coopers Town, where our team has set up a desalination unit for a community that had already been weeks without clean water for drinking, bathing, cooking, and washing clothes.
“We can’t do without the water. We need water for everything,” said Adella, who came to our water site several times to fill up jerry cans.
Adella rode out Hurricane Dorian at a friend’s house and they thought the terror would never cease. “The ceiling started to cave in, walls were coming apart, sheetrock was falling. The storm kept going and going and going,” she said.
On Grand Bahama Island, which lies 80-plus miles west of the Abacos, Ken Barr-Smith also hunkered down at home. As mayor of West End, the island’s capital, he didn’t want to leave behind elderly residents who weren’t able to evacuate. “I was so afraid,” Ken said. “We didn’t realise what the magnitude of the storm would be.”
Ken is grateful to Samaritan’s Purse for providing water and bringing hope to his hometown. “This is a really big help. We really appreciate it.”
Samaritan’s Purse set up our clean water tap stands on the grounds of a local medical clinic in West End. The tap stands not only serve residents, but also allowed the clinic to operate in the storm’s immediate aftermath.
“West End is a close community. I get to know patients personally,” said Dr. Alicia Genuino.
Dr. Alicia explained that many in West End were still trying to recover from Hurricane Matthew three years ago when Dorian knocked them down again. She said receiving water from Samaritan’s Purse is a huge encouragement to this struggling community.
Hospital Patients Trust God
After Freeport’s main hospital was damaged during the hurricane, we airlifted our Emergency Field Hospital at the request of the World Health Organisation and the Bahamas government.
A stroke brought Zek, a local pastor, to our hospital by ambulance as he was unable to speak or to walk. Our medical team ran tests, provided medication, and worked with Zek and his wife Judy to figure out the next steps for his recovery.
Judy explained that only the week before they had been fighting for their lives during Hurricane Dorian. The couple, along with family members and neighbours, tried to escape from their neighbourhood in the church bus.
“The water was so high the bus was starting to float, so we went to a shelter and spent the night on the second floor. It was a long, long night.”
When they returned home, Judy realised they were facing a long road of recovery. “No one was safe,” she said. “All the houses in our neighbourhood were damaged. My appliances were floating in the water.”
But they aren’t giving up. Judy is trusting God that Zek will recover and one day be able to preach again and to hold their newborn granddaughter.
Carla, another patient, also arrived not long after our hospital opened. Carla had stepped on a nail and her toe and foot were infected to the point that she not only needed antibiotics, but also several surgeries. “The nurses and doctors are amazing. They prayed with me and comforted me. They encourage you in the Lord,” Carla said.
Carla arrived at the hospital so dehydrated that our teams had to administer an IV before they could do surgery. She had been without food or water for about two days while she was trapped in her home during the hurricane.
Carla is grateful to God for saving her life and meeting her physical and spiritual needs at the Samaritan’s Purse hospital.
“Faith in Christ makes us strong,” she said. “You get through by the grace of God.”
To DONATE to Samaritan’s Purse: https://www.samaritans-purse.org.uk/article/samaritans-purse-continues-work-in-the-devastated-bahamas/#donate
SOURCE: SAMARITAN’S PURSE
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: 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
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)
- 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!
RBDF Congratulates Retired Commander Defence Force on National Honour Award
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)
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