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The 15 COVID-19 Questions every Health Minister should be asking



#WorldHealthOrganization – March 3, 2020 — A string of questions and whether they can be answered in the affirmative will give governments and citizens of the countries of the world clear perspective about readiness for COVID-19, the new coronavirus which has claimed over 3,100 lives in its three-month existence.

Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, World Health Organisation Director General listed the probing questions during a news conference on Thursday February 27, 2020.

Dr. Ghebreyesus informed the watching world that the earnest and honest response of the various Ministers of Health will be the indicator of a country’s true preparedness for the coronavirus.

The first question points to an eventuality that many countries either hope or had hoped would never come; the arrival of COVID-19 within its borders.

Question one: “Are we ready for the first case?”


The second question is a natural follow-up and asks: “What will we do when the first case arrives?”

Since no one wants to see a community spread of coronavirus, the Director General pointed to the next focus which, according to him, must be:  “Do we have an isolation unit ready to go?”

The rapid rate at which COVID-19 has infected people of countries around the world has stretched capacity; human and supplies alike.

Dr. Ghebreyesus advised, Health Ministers must literally check stock and question, “Do we have enough medical oxygen, ventilators and other vital equipment?”

Jamaica Minister of Health at Norman Manley Intl Airport

Travel and global connectivity by air and sea have made this virus go viral in record time; it is nearly impossible to ascertain who is where and where people may end up.

The Director General is asking for health care leaders to consider this mobility of people in their plans, with this question:  “How will we know if there are cases in other areas of the country?”

Establishing protocols in the public and private sector is also critical, especially for medical professionals. 

The question should be: “Is there a reporting system that all health facilities are using and a way to raise an alert if there is a concern?”


Additionally, the question: “Do our health workers have the training and equipment they need to stay safe?”

Thousands of health care workers have been sickened by coronavirus, some have also died.

Standard practices must also be established among these health practitioners and the WHO advises that it should be asked: “Do our health workers know how to take samples correctly from patients?”

Travel restrictions, advisories and bans have been imposed in order to contain the spread of coronavirus.  The $7.6 trillion travel and tourism industry, despite being a significant economic driver, has been put second place when possible infections have turned up at borders; doors are being slammed shut on plane and boat loads of passengers.

CARPHA holds regional meeting to share COVID-19 strategies for Caribbean region

Dr. Ghebreyesus said Health Ministers must ensure they can satisfactorily answer this question, which is:  “Do we have the right measures at airports and border crossings to test people who are sick?”

Accuracy and expediency are also sought after, as health care system managers aim to determine as soon as possible who is or is not carrying COVID-19. 

The WHO offered this question to assist proficiency: “Do our labs have the right chemicals that allow them to test samples?”

It has been widely communicated that COVID-19 has proven fatal for the elderly and those with serious pre-existing health conditions.  Medical teams must know: “Are we ready to test patients with severe or critical disease?”

Bahamas Health Minister holds press conference to announce protocols to fend off COVID-19

Another question helps to circumvent complications for Coronavirus patients; “Do our hospitals and clinics have the right procedures to prevent and control infections?”

Already, there are disturbing accounts of fear-filled citizens who are rowdily rejecting their own people due to well-founded concerns of contracting the potentially deadly COVID-19.  The WHO is strongly advocating against stigmatization and asks Health leaders to consider this…

Turks and Caicos Islands Health Team hold news conference

“Do our people have the right information; do they know what the disease looks like? In 90 percent (of patients) it is a fever and in 70 percent (of patients) it is a dry cough.”

Fake news and fear-mongering are popular but counter-productive pastimes for far too many individuals in this social media age.  Dr. Ghebreyesus challenges leaders to come up with a strategy for media messaging.

Cruise ship blocked from entering Jamaica and Cayman Islands; crew member was confirmed to have influenza

“Are we ready to fight rumors and misinformation with clear and simple messages that people can understand?”

The final and fifteenth question is likely the most critical.

“Are we able to have our people on our side to fight this outbreak?”

The war being waged against COVID-19 is futile without community buy-in.  Messages about hygiene and trust of people to self-quarantine are all dependent upon a symbiotic relationship hinged on a shared desire of governments and people to preserve the health of the nation.  The impact of the coronavirus has proven this healthiness encompasses both human lives and the economies which sustain them.

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Mother’s Day has meaning Across the World, in the Region and right at here at Home



May 11, 2024 – Mother’s Day has a rich history that dates back to ancient times when Greeks and Romans held festivals to honor mother goddesses. However, the modern Mother’s Day as we know it originated in the early 20th century.

The official Mother’s Day holiday in the United States was first proposed by Anna Jarvis in 1905, as a way to honor her own mother who had passed away.

Her efforts led to the first Mother’s Day celebration in 1908, organized by her at a church in West Virginia. The holiday gained popularity quickly, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day, a national holiday to honor mothers.

Since then, Mother’s Day has become a widely celebrated occasion around the world, with people expressing their love and appreciation for their mothers and mother figures through gifts, cards, and special gestures.

Mother’s Day is celebrated in various countries around the world, although the dates and traditions may differ. Among the many marking the celebration of mothers is the United States, Nigeria and United Kingdom (which had Mother’s Day in March), Canada, Australia, India, Mexico (marked Friday May 10), Brazil, Japan, South Africa and France (later this month May 26).  These are just a few examples, as Mother’s Day is observed in many other countries as well, each with its own customs and traditions for honoring mothers and motherhood.

In the Caribbean, Mother’s Day is also marked with vim and vigor and reverence.

When you talk about island nations like Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Turks and Caicos Islands and The Bahamas, among others, all observe Mother’s Day with celebrations that often include special church services, family gatherings, and the giving of gifts and cards to honor mothers and mother figures.

Traditional foods and music may also be part of the festivities staged in the neighbourhood or huge family groups will flock to their favourite dining spots for brunch.

It is not unusual to see Mother’s Day concerts, national awards ceremonies and luncheons making it a striking and joyous occasion for families eager to show appreciation for the important women in their lives.

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Caribbean News

Saudi Arabia E-Visa Access Broadened – Caribbean



Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

Citizens from Barbados, The Bahamas and Grenada have been granted access to Saudi Arabia’s electronic visa, now being able to apply for their visas online or acquire them upon arrival at Saudi Arabia entry points, according to reports. So far, there are only 66 countries with access to the E-Visa.


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Astrazeneca to withdraw vaccines – Health Side Effects



Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer 

Astrazeneca says it is withdrawing its vaccines from the market worldwide, effective as of May 7 as it was reported to cause side effects such as blood clots and low blood platelet counts. This was first reported by the Telegraph. The Withdrawal they say is also due to the availability of other updated vaccines.


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