Bahamas Health Minister Sands Explains Proven Public Health Measures for Controlling Outbreaks
#NASSAU, Bahamas — Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Duane Sands explained that case identification, testing and isolation along with aggressive contact tracing and quarantine, as appropriate, are proven public health measures for controlling outbreaks.
“In pandemics, such as we are currently experiencing due to COVID, these measures become most important given the potential for uncontrolled spread in populations with no previous exposure and therefore no one having immunity and everyone susceptible to infection,” Dr. Sands stated as he presented an Update on the COVID-19 Response in The Bahamas in the House of Assembly, April 27, 2020.
He noted that case confirmation is tied to laboratory testing capacity and significant strides continue to be made in this area.
“Since my last update, we have accepted 1,000 donated RT PCR test kits as well as more than 700 RNA extractor kits and other regents required for testing.
“Despite an inventory of at least 4000 RT PCR kits, we remain challenged to expand testing to reach the elusive goal of testing-on-demand because of international supply chain limitations.”
Dr. Sands said currently, the nation’s swab inventory stands at 1100 swabs remaining and our lab is currently exploring multiple avenues for enhanced capacity.
“We have ordered and are expecting 3D printed swabs, validation of samples such as sputum instead of nasopharyngeal swabs and locally produced viral transport media. We shall also partner with the private sector to provide PCR testing.”
He added that very soon persons wishing to be tested will be able to have them done at approved private labs. He said the Health Ministry is also closely monitoring the refinement of antibody tests. “This past weekend, we did a validation study of some 200 such tests.”
The Health Minister said, “As you may recall, I advised that we would be expanding our testing protocol to include health care workers and caregivers of vulnerable populations (nursing homes) as well as others who provide healthcare in the homes of elderly and ill or disabled people.
“I must now inform that testing priorities have now shifted due to the requirement to test all health care worker contacts associated with the eight confirmed cases in the Medical/Surgical Ward at Princess Margaret Hospital.”
He added, “Additionally, with one of the cases linked to the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre (SRC) testing of potentially exposed at that institution is also occurring.”
BIS Press Release by Llonella Gilbert
Universal Healthcare Coverage Cited as a Big-Ticket Item at 76th World Health Assembly in Geneva
#TheBahamas, May 23, 2023 – Health & Wellness Minister the Honourable Dr. Michael R. Darville, in a pre-assembly interview, has forecast that Non-Communicable Diseases, Universal Healthcare Coverage, areas associated with the pandemic and Anti-microbial Resistance are some of the hot-ticket items on this year’s agenda at the 76th World Health Assembly. Minister Darville who is heading a delegation from The Bahamas comprised of representatives of the Ministry of Health & Wellness, the Public Hospitals Authority and the National Health Insurance Authority cited universal healthcare coverage as a major pillar of the Geneva discussions as the intention is to put it in place globally by the year 2030. He said the government equates the provision of healthcare services with equity across the Bahamas as a priority. This he said will become even more evident when the Parliament moves on new legislation to repeal the old National Health Insurance Act.
The Opening session of the 76th World Health Assembly takes place on Sunday May 21st in Geneva, Switzerland. This year’s Assembly is being held under the theme Saving lives, driving health for all, and it comes as the WHO celebrates its 75th anniversary.
The World Health Assembly (WHA) is the decision-making body of WHO. It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The main functions of the World Health Assembly are to determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget. The Health Assembly is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland.
Press Release: Ministry of Health & Wellness
DPM says Grand Bahama “is on the move”
By ROBYN ADDERLEY, BIS
#TheBahamas, May 23, 2023 – Grand Bahama “is on the move” said Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Chester Cooper when asked about the Grand Lucayan prior to the Cabinet Meeting held in Freeport on Tuesday, May 16, 2023.
The Minister of Tourism, Investments, and Aviation said, “We have taken the position that we want to validate proof of funding and we are in the process of going through that at the moment. The government knows how important the property is to Grand Bahama and its economy, as well as to the nation, and they are working diligently and when they get to a point, an announcement will be made.”
Questioned on the status of the Grand Bahama International Airport, the Deputy Prime Minister said they are about to begin demolition. “There are very complex agreements that are currently being prepared. The lawyers are working diligently.”
With a foreign lender, a foreign airport manager and a consortium of five entities that make up the local partners, there are a number of agreements being made. Consultants are currently working on the ground, and the Deputy Prime Minister said he will meet with them next Tuesday to view the designs.
“The reality is that the work has continued since we entered the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) in March. The process is we entered the MOU, we are now completing the full set of legal agreements and designs. We’re going to begin the demolition work shortly. Renovation of the Air Traffic Control Tower is going to begin first and then we’ll go into full scale construction.”
The 2025 deadline for the completion of the airport, is still in place with all parties committed.
Deputy Prime Minister Cooper then turned his attention to airlift to the island stating that they have been “very deliberate and very focused” having engaged Bahamasair for flights from Raleigh, North Carolina; and Sunwing. It is hoped that these flights can become year-round.
With Sunwing recently acquired by WestJet, he said, “this is going to be an overall positive for The Bahamas and Grand Bahama. WestJet has always been a good partner with direct services from Toronto and Montreal, as well as Calgary.” They are currently working to get more airlift to Grand Bahama.
Other airlines include Frontier, Silver and Bahamasair for the possibility of additional routes. For more airlift, he said, they are also speaking with Air Canada which flies from Charlotte and Miami.
“The challenge on the island at the moment is the number of hotel rooms and we’re hoping we can get Breakers Cay open in a short period of time to support the airlift.
“Suffice to say, all of our airline partners are standing by and they are ready to support the island of Grand Bahama. The product is strong, our overall numbers is just 96 percent of 2019, only four percent behind 2019 let’s put it that way; our cruise numbers are up 188 percent compared to 2019.
“So, Grand Bahama is on the move. There’s excitement about the product. People now realize there is a significant level of things to do in East End and West End, and of course in Freeport, and this is attracting a significant level of interest from stakeholders and, potentially, new partners,” he said.
Additionally, the government will make a statement on the $300 million development in West Grand Bahama and it is expected that more information will be forthcoming in the coming weeks.
When asked about commercial banks going into the Family Islands that currently have no banks, the Deputy Prime Minister said the issue has been a concern of the government for some time. As the large Canadian banks have been withdrawing from the islands, the money transfer agencies have been engaged to work with existing banks to provide the service.
“I anticipate the bank involved is going to make an announcement soon in relation to Exuma and Long Island mission; and we hope that as a result of the successful implementation of these plans in Exuma and Long Island, that other islands will benefit in due course,” he said.
BAIC Facilitates First-Ever Perfume-Making Workshop
By BETTY VEDRINE, BIS
#NASSAU, The Bahamas, May 23, 2023 – The Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC), has made a significant step in its quest to expand and innovate the industrial sector and offer Bahamians another avenue for entrepreneurship.
On Wednesday, 18th May, the corporation took a leap into the unknown but exciting world of perfume-making when a workshop was facilitated at their headquarters on Old Trail Road.
The one-day workshop brought together artisans and craftspersons from the world of essential oil production, candle-making, aromatherapy and other crafts. Bringing his expertise to The Bahamas, world-renowned perfume maker and skincare specialist, Edwin Bruce, facilitated the event. Executive Chairman of BAIC, Leroy Major, called the workshop a ‘groundbreaking’ event for the country.
“The perfume industry is a $38.2 billion one that The Bahamas has not tapped into and so after doing some research and finding out that castor oil, which is produced locally, is a component of perfume, we decided to try our hand at perfume making,” he said.
“We invited Mr. Bruce, out of Jamaica, to assist us as he is well-versed in this area. We plan to also facilitate workshops in some of the other islands shortly.”
Mr. Bruce said he was elated to share his knowledge with the Bahamian people given his affection for the country.
During the three-hour event, participants learned about the various layers of scent, the use of raw materials for scents, how to blend scents, the philosophy and olfactory psychology and also the language behind scents. At the end of the workshop, participants were able to compose and bottle their own personalized fragrances.
(BIS Photos/Betty Vedrine)
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