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Bahamas: Who Should and Should Not Wear Face Masks, and Important Protocols for Those Wearing Masks

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#NASSAU, The Bahamas — People all over the world are choosing to buy masks to protect themselves from COVID-19 to the point where many stores have empty shelves.

However, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Delon Brennen explained during a recent interview that there are reasons why healthcare providers recommend that only sick people and healthcare workers should utilize masks.

Dr Delon Brennen, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Bahamas Ministry of Health

“The reason masks are most useful for sick people is because for example if 10 of us enter a room, and there is one sick person in the room, you can use the one mask to put on the person who is sick; they would then cough into the mask and their respiratory droplets would not get onto anyone or surfaces or anything like that.

“Even if that one person who is sick does not have a mask on and you put nine masks on the other people in the room, yes that person when they cough, the masks will theoretically protect you from breathing in those particles immediately — but what it does not do is protect that environment.”

He explained, “So it does not go in your nose or mouth, but it goes on your hands, it goes on your phone, it goes on the handles to the door or whatever entry there is; it goes on other surfaces like tables and chairs.  So when you go and you touch that surface, or you touch your phone, touch the handles, you then pick up the germs onto your hands and unfortunately if you touch your eyes, your nose, your mouth, you would then have the virus on your mucus membranes and have the potential of introducing it to yourself.”

Dr. Delon stated that the most important thing to do is to put a mask on a person who is coughing or sneezing and who has the respiratory symptoms to go along with it; and this is whether it is in regard to COVID-19, influenza, or the common cold: then the whole environment has been protected.

He also noted that healthcare workers need masks because they are going to take care of not just one person but multiple people with respiratory issues.

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The Deputy CMO said for them wearing a mask means that they are protected from multiple people, and in general healthcare workers do a little bit better job of washing their hands and having good hand hygiene. 

“So while someone may cough in the environment and they (healthcare providers) too might get it on their hands and surfaces, each time they go to see a patient or when they go and are done with seeing a patient, they do a lot better with cleansing their hands and so they are less likely to pass it on themselves.”

He also explained that there is a whole procedure behind putting on and taking off a mask. 

Before putting on a mask a person should always wash their hands and then take the mask off from the back.  “You never want to touch the front of the mask because, theoretically, as you are breathing, those particles that you were trying not to get into your nose have now been attached to the mask.  If you touch the front of the mask, [the particles are] now on your hands.  So you take it off from the back, you then make sure it drops directly into the bin — you wash before you take it off from the back, drop it directly in the bin, and then you wash your hands again.”

The Deputy CMO stressed that when healthcare providers suggest that people wear masks in public, it is for the patient specifically so that one of two things does not happen: the patient who has a respiratory illness does not pass it onto someone else; and the patient who has an immunocompromised condition and who is susceptible to infections does not get infected by something.  “But again, it is a very rare scenario, there is a whole protocol around that as well, and you are not expected to wear it for long periods of time. 

“You are only supposed to wear it for at the most two hours, and then you are supposed to get a new mask because as you might imagine the mask then becomes wet and all sorts of organisms and fomites that are out there can now be attracted to the mask.” 

Dr. Brennen added, “So if you wear it for much longer, you have now defeated the whole purpose because you have attracted more to the mask than otherwise.  Then it loses its ability to protect you the longer that goes on.”

BIS NEWS by Llonella Gilbert

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

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

RBDF Congratulates Retired Commander Defence Force on National Honour Award 

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#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: www.rbdf.gov.bs, follow us on FacebookTwitter and view our Youtube channel) 

-rbdf- 

#GuardOurHeritage 

#MarlinSpike 

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