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Secrecy of the Vote; a statement by the Cayman Islands Elections Office

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#CaymanIslands – October 24, 2019 – The integrity of our voting system is built on the secrecy of the vote.

The Cayman Islands Elections Law contains legal and procedural safeguards to avoid revealing the identity of voters when the ballot is being marked or counted.

The current Cayman Islands Elections Law (2017 Revision) has the following legal provisions:

1. Voters mark their ballots alone in a voting booth, except when assisted voting is requested and authorised by the voter.

2. Ballots are appropriately folded to conceal the voter’s choice before the ballots are deposited in the ballot box.

3. The ballots are designed to ensure that the voter cannot be identified at the time of the count.

4. If the voter marks the ballots with any identifiable marks the ballot is rejected. For example, if a voter writes his or her name on a ballot, that ballot is then rejected.

Additionally, The Referendum (People Initiated Referendum Regarding the Port) Bill 2019 calls for a national count.

This means all ballots cast in the 19 electoral districts will be collected at a central location for counting. The ballots, including mobile and postal ballots, will be mixed and divided into random segments for counting. The totals from each segment will be added together to give one national result. It is, therefore, impossible to determine how any individual or group voted.

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According to the Administration and Cost of Elections (ACE) Project, an international body aimed at supporting credible and transparent electoral processes, voting secrecy is vital for fairness.

“A secret vote is an essential integrity safeguard because it allows voters to cast their ballot in full independence. If a vote is not secret or can be identified during vote counting, some people might be intimidated into not voting as they had intended. Secrecy makes intimidation or bribery less effective,” the international body explains.

The systems in the Cayman Islands that will be utilised for the referendum are in keeping with these internationally accepted principles. The Referendum Bill and the Elections Law (2017) provides for the appointment of observers, local and international, to ensure that the referendum is carried out accordingly.

Any voter who feels threatened or unduly pressured to vote, not vote, vote a certain way, or to reveal how they voted, should report their concerns to the Elections Office or the Royal Cayman Islands Police.

The Supervisor of Elections, Wesley Howell, assures voters in the Cayman Islands that the Elections Law and the Elections Office staff take every precaution to ensure that votes will remain secret at the time of the count, regardless if the vote is submitted by postal ballot, mobile ballot or is cast in person on Referendum Day.

Mr Howell also added that Elections Office polling teams have been training since September to ensure that the Cayman Islands Elections Office continues to plan and execute elections and referendums that meet or exceed international best practices. He is confident that this referendum will be executed with the same quality as previous ones.

For further information contact: Suzette Ebanks

SOURCE:  CAYMAN ISLANDS GOVERNMENT NEWS

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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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Bahamas News

TCI Premier and Tourism Minister lead delegation  at NABHOOD Summit

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#TurksandCaicos, October 13, 2021 – The Hon. Premier, Charles Washington Missick and Hon. Josephine Connolly Minister for tourism attended the 8th Annual International Multicultural & Heritage Tourism Summit and Trade Show. This summit was held at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay Hotel from October 8th to 10th. The theme of this year’s Summit was ‘Gaining Economic Powers Through Multicultural Tourism’. The summit was held by the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers (NABHOOD)

Both the Hon. Premier and Minister for tourism were key panelist at the summit. The Premier sat with interviewer Vincent Vanderpool Wallace, former Minister of Tourism & Aviation of the Bahamas on a one on one interview entitled A conversation on The Turks and Caicos Islands. This discussion was extremely well received and allowed for the Premier to discuss factors attributing to the success of the Tourism industry in the islands and his vision for the sector.

Hon. Connolly joined a high caliber panel with three other industry experts on Saturday morning. Their discussion centered around Diversity in Tourism and the impact to the Destination. The Minister expanded on where Turks and Caicos’ industry was heading post pandemic, how it performed over the past months and insight into the future of Tourism in the Turks and Caicos Islands including the setting up of a Regulatory Authority and a Destination Management Organization.

Among others participating from the Turks and Caicos Islands were students and a chaperone from the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College Hospitality Program. The students had the opportunity to network with other US and Caribbean students at the summit.

It is clear that the growth of the Tourism sector in the TCI and the fact that we continue to perform well despite the challenges of COVID 19, is of interest to many. Also of note is the vision articulated by the Premier as he noted; ‘it is imperative that we provide opportunities within the Tourism sector for the growth of investment and local ownership. Turks and Caicos Islanders must benefit directly from the growth of this sector’. The Premier noted that much of his efforts will be to promote investment and ownership by Turks and Caicos Islanders as much as possible.

The Hon. Minister of Tourism stated her pride in representing the country and sector at this summit; ‘This is the first opportunity I have had to present our island on a panel for some time. This year despite COVID 19, we saw arrival numbers that even exceeded pre-COVID 19 during the summer months. I can say that our protocols, our partnerships, our pre-screening program and our COVID 19 marketing strategy all contributed to this success.’

 

 

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