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BAHAMAS: Health Minister Notes Good Renovation Progress on Rand Memorial Hospital



#Freport, GB, December 17, 2019 – Bahamas – Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. Duane Sands during a tour of the Rand Memorial Hospital on Friday said work will be done through the Holiday Season to get the Rand Memorial Hospital back in working order.

Joining the minister on the tour of the hospital were Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator the Hon. Kwasi Thompson, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, the Hon. Iram Lewis and Hospital Administrator Sharon Williams.

The tour gave the Health Minister a first-hand view of the renovation work presently being carried out at the Rand Memorial Hospital, which was hard-hit by Hurricane Dorian in September of this year. Severe flooding forced all of the wards in the hospital to be emptied.  Those patients were eventually housed in fully-equipped makeshift tents by Samaritan’s Purse.

Minister Sands said “I want to assure the public that we will not do anything that will in anyway compromise the safety of our people,” said Dr. Sands. “So there will be mold remediation to ensure that any bacteria contamination is sorted out, that the structure is safe; and it will be restored.

“In the area of the Operating Room, the Recovery Room, the Central Sterile Surgical Supply area, there is not a whole lot of work left to be done, but it is a part of the entire remediation project.”

Minister Sands noted that Samaritan’s Purse has agreed to stay on until March 2020. “So, we would like to have a number of the services return to the Rand Memorial Hospital at that time.  Realistically, we have to be out of those temporary facilities when hurricane season starts again.

A temporary operating and recovery room will be constructed in the area where the ambulances presently enter with emergency patients. The Health Minister is hoping that by as early as January, the Rand will be able to re-start elective surgeries.

He noted that the cost of the renovation of the Rand has been estimated to be around $20 million.  “As we look at the value of this remediation and renovation work, it’s in the millions of dollars. The Ministry of Health has agreed to have all of the donations for health audited, and we will present that audited report once it is completed.”

The Minister noted that “very soon” some of the services that are currently being carried out by Samaritan’s Purse will be moved and replanted into a renovated Rand Memorial Hospital.  “But in the meantime, let us not underestimate the value of the contributions by them and all of the organizations that have come forward in our time of need.”

Minister Sands noted that renovation work on the IAT building that was carried out since Hurricane Dorian has recently been completed, and it is expected that the Administrative teams, which have been in tents provided by Samaritan’s Purse, will move into the renovated building as early as this week.  Out-patients clinics will be resumed from the same building.

Asked about the possibility of constructing a new hospital, Minister Sands said that is something the entire government supports. He pointed out that the Prime Minister has already made it clear that a new hospital is in the works for Grand Bahama. 

“A new hospital has to be planned, it has to be conceptualized and we need to identify an appropriate site,” added Minister Sands.  Grand Bahamians deserve all of the services that can be provided in The Bahamas, that means cardiac care, cancer care and services that are not currently provided, so we have to conceptualize what that facility would look like. We also need to know what kind of design would need to be used.

“We have to make sure that as we plan for the era of climate change, that when we invest in the structure of Grand Bahama, that it is one that will serve the people of Grand Bahama, not just for this year, but for the next generation; so it has to be thought out, carefully planned and I don’t imagine that such a facility we would have the ground breaking for [in] less than two years.”

Minister Sands says that the renovation work on the Rand Memorial has made tremendous headway and tremendous progress.  All of it, he said, has been possible by the grace of Almighty God and with the help of so many committed and dedicated people to the project.  

By Andrew Coakley

Release: BIS

Photo Caption:

Header: Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. Duane Sands (left), along with Minister of State for Grand Bahama Senator the Hon. Kwasi Thompson, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and reconstruction, the Hon. Iram Lewis, and Rand Memorial Hospital Administrator, Sharon Williams view one of the operating rooms at the Rand Memorial Hospital, during a tour of the main building, December 13, 2019. 

Insert: Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. Duane Sands points out some of the damage to beams in the male ward of the Rand Memorial Hospital to Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, the Hon. Iram Lewis, during a recent tour of the hospital, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Dorian in September of this year.  Renovation work on the hospital continues to progress.  

(BIS Photo)

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Commander Defence Force attends UK-Second Caribbean Chiefs of Defence Conference, Antigua



#Bahamas, September 13, 2021 – In keeping with the Global Security Collaborative Framework and Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King’s strategic intent in strengthening joint relationships with its regional and international partnerships, Commodore King attended the UK- Chief of Defence Staff (CHoDs’) in Antigua from 1- 3 September, 2021 to share best practices and to discuss matters of mutual interest.

Accompanied by his Aide, Sub Lieutenant Delroy Dennis, the sessions also included General Sir Nick Carter; Gen Chief of Defence Staff, United Kingdom of Great Britain, and Northern Ireland; Major General C S Collins, General Officer Commanding 1st UK Division; Lieutenant Colonel Simon Westlake Royal Marines United Kingdom’s Defence Attaché to the Caribbean; and Commander Brian Trim MBE RN Commander task Group.

Also in attendance were countries with various Chiefs of Defence Staff, in particular; Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and defence and security partners across the region, who took part virtually, and shared their views on global security and joint partnerships. They all agreed on several initiatives with training and education designed to improve collective capacity to deal with the diverse security challenges that confront the region.

The inaugural conference convened virtually in November 2020, with each of the regional Chiefs of Defence. This second conference focused on building on the success of the virtual event in strengthening the UK-Caribbean relationships, and developing concepts for UK engagement with its Caribbean partners on issues of mutual interest.

The three-day conference commenced with an ice-breaker reception and concert at Blizzard Camp, hosted by Antigua and Barbuda (ATG) – Chief of Defence Staff Colonel Telbert Benjamin, and joined by the Governor General, Sir Rodney Williams. The core conference which took place on September 2nd, began with an opening ceremony, supported by the Prime Minister of ATG, Sir Gaston Browne.

In the first core session, UK- Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland General Sir Nick Carter set out the UK perspective on the strategic context, informed by the recently concluded Integrated Review (IR) and Defence Command Plan (DCP). The three individual sessions covered issues of serious organized crime threats; regional initiatives and the implications for UK Defence engagement; and natural threats.

The UK- CDS expressed his ambition to use the conference as a vehicle for institutional capacity building, military capability development, training and education, doctrine, and concepts. These are ways to maximize collective security development with focused UK engagement while better constructing an approach that matches the region’s aspirations and requirements.

The final session of the three-day conference was held aboard HMS MEDWAY, River Class Offshore Patrol Vessel built on the Clyde. This permanent Caribbean patrol ship was deployed to the Caribbean to support disaster relief and conduct counter-trafficking operations as an alternative setting for a maritime security focused discussion. It served as a setting to discuss regional maritime security, which included talks around preparedness for Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Response (HADR), and UK involvement in regional partnerships.

Photo Captions: 

Header: Participants at the UK- second Caribbean Chief of Defence Staff (CHoDs’) in Antigua, 1- 3 September, 2021. 

1st insert: Commodore Raymond King, the Commander Defence Force, presenting his country’s brief on board HMS MEDWAY, during the second Caribbean Chiefs of Defence Staff conference in Antigua. 

2nd insert: Commodore Raymond King, Commander of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force; Brigadier General Steven Andrew Ortega, Commander Belize Defence Force; Lieutenant General Rocky R Meade, Chief of Defence Staff, Jamaica Defence Force; Brigadier Godfrey Bess Chief of Staff, Guyana Defence Force; Air Vice Marshal Darryl Daniel Chief of Defence Staff, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Forces: In the front row; Colonel Telbert Benjamin, Commander of Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force and General Sir Nick Carter, General Chief of Defence Staff, United Kingdom of Great Britain, and Northern Ireland.

3rd insert: Commodore Raymond King, the Commander Royal Bahamas Defence Force; Brigadier General Steven Andrew Ortega, Commander Belize Defence Force; General de Brigada Angel A Camacho Ubiera Inspector General of the Dominican Republic Army; Antigua and Barbuda – Colonel Telbert Benjamin, Commander of Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force; Major General C S Collins, General Officer Commanding 1st UK Division; Lieutenant General Rocky R Meade, Chief of Defence Staff, Jamaica Defence Force; Brigadier Godfrey Bess Chief of Staff, Guyana Defence Force; Air Vice Marshal Darryl Daniel Chief of Defence Staff, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Forces Trinidad and Tobago; and Air Vice Marshal Darryl Daniel Chief of Defence Staff, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Forces.

(Photos courtesy Mr. Wayne Mariette)


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Caribbean Wellness Day 2021



#Caribbean, September 13, 2021 – Health, in every facet, is sought-after, at great expense, by all members of the global community. Though the success of our endeavours in health varies from region to region, it must be emphasised that in our Region, a healthy Caribbean is always the goal for which we strive.

Each year the Caribbean Region observes, Caribbean Wellness Day since it was established at the 2007 landmark summit, ‘Declaration of Port of Spain: Uniting to Stop the Epidemic of Chronic Non-communicable Diseases.’

This year’s commemoration focuses on equitable access to health; an all of society approach to health and well-being, and building healthy communities under the theme, “Power Through Collective Action: In it Together, Building Healthy Communities.”

As health care systems are being taxed by the devastating effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic, it is even more important now to advocate for equitable access to health. Too many of our Caribbean citizens face harsh realities, because of inequities in access – this should not be. Caribbean Wellness Day is the most opportune time for the members of our Caribbean community to ensure that the health of our people is indeed a priority through legislative change, health in all policies and all of society action.

Equitable access to health care in the Caribbean is one of CARPHA’s points of focus as can be seen through our work to ensure equitable access to PPE, equipment, supplies and vaccines through the COVAX facility, a mechanism whose primary function is to ensure the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and donations notably the US Government donation of 5.5 million doses of Pfizer BioNTech.

Without the power of voices in chorus, like with the COVAX facility; the Caribbean Cooperation in Health (CCH) and others – many more would be disadvantaged and unserved. Achieving health for all in the Caribbean also means attaining and sustaining healthy environments.

The built environment, which provides for sidewalks, bike lanes, community parks and green spaces, can influence lifestyles, body weight, and improve mental health. As these necessary frameworks are made reality and we avail ourselves of them, we exercise Power through Collective Action showing that we are truly in it together, Building Healthy Communities.

As we speak about the environment, we must mention the effects of climate change. The inaction in the past has set the world on a course of environmental destruction. We need to act now; it is the only way that we can protect the generations to come from even worse realities than those we face today.

As we seek to mitigate the damage done due to inaction on the recommended major climate change interventions, we need to address other pertinent issues. Vector-borne diseases remain a challenge in many Caribbean territories, and unlike the bleak outlook that is presented on climate change, simple adjustments in our behaviour can make the world of difference.

By eradicating breeding grounds of mosquitoes in our immediate environment and communities, we minimize the spread of many vector-borne diseases. Advocacy in health should be the standard operation of every Region, State, and organisation. Sustaining Health and well-being is one of the very few universal desires.

Regardless of creed, culture, or any other divisive line – all organised bodies have a responsibility to promote health. Further to this, we need to take the time to look after ourselves and our families and communities.

Simple actions – increasing our intake of local produce, reading labels of processed foods to make informed decisions, scheduling regular exercise – these actions will drastically improve the health and quality of life of our people.

Working together to this end, will lead to healthier minds, healthier bodies, and a Caribbean that exudes wellness.

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US new Vaccine mandate not for tourists and students



#TurksandCaicos, September 9, 2021 – The vast majority of visa applicants such as students and tourists do not have to worry about the new CDC requirement for Immigrant Visa applicants to be fully vaccinated.

Our news organization reached out to the US Embassy in Nassau, where Public Affairs Officer Daniel Durazo informed the notice floating around social media is true but only impacts people who are applying to live and work in the United States.

“The information circulating on social media is a notice stating that starting on October 1 the CDC will require age-appropriate Immigrant Visa applicants worldwide will to show evidence of COVID-19 vaccination.

The key detail here is the difference between Non-Immigrant Visas and Immigrant Visas. Non-Immigrant Visas (for which the requirement does not apply) make up the majority of visa applications, and include student and tourist visas. Immigrant Visas on the other hand typically involve moving permanently to the United States through a Green Card, for example, and which make up a very small fraction of visa applications,” said Durazo.

Similar to TCIs work permit holders rule, which requires guest workers to be fully vaccinated in order to be legally in the Turks and Caicos, this rule takes effect for the US on October 1st.

The notice caused quite a buzz, as the United States is a popular destination for islanders to visit and attend school. The US is also the #1 tourism source market for the Turks and Caicos; and only its vaccinated residents will be allowed into these islands;  that mandate started on September 1st.

“First, I’d like to reassure your readers that the vaccination requirement will not apply to the vast majority of Visa applicants, such as those applying for tourist and student visas.  In summary, the vast majority of visa applicants (such as students and tourists) do not have to worry about this requirement. It’s only Immigrant Visa applicants who need to take this requirement into consideration, and they will receive instructions and clarification from the consular section as appropriate when they apply.”

Residents suspected the US was activating a similar entry requirement but Durazo said the rule does not apply to visitor and student visas.  Permanent residency applicants, like those wanting Green Card will need to have full Covid 19 vaccination and he said, will receive instructions and clarification from the consular section as appropriate when they apply.

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