#NASSAU, The Bahamas – Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell, told Parliamentarians Monday that his Ministry and its Departments and Divisions have undertaken a myriad of measures to provide assistance to those Bahamians as the country continues its fight against the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Minister Campbell said officials have endeavored to use every avenue to remain accessible not only to their regular clients, but also to persons within the community of persons with disabilities, the elderly, those in the tourism sector who find themselves on reduced workweeks as a result of the closure of the tourism sector, and, “those who are generally in need.”
The Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, is comprised of the Department of Social Services, the Department of Rehabilitative Welfare Services, the Department of Gender and Family Affairs and Urban Renewal, along with numerous Divisions and Units.
Minister Campbell said while the Department of Social Services is responsible for, and has been tasked with, ensuring that the requisite assistance is provided to persons in need of assistance, a “team effort” is being utilized.
Minister Campbell said the Department’s response to COVID-19 also takes into account the needs of the country’s most vulnerable groups of clients, consisting of its children, senior citizens and persons with disabilities. He said to facilitate delivery of services to the country’s senior citizens and persons with disabilities who are clients, officials have increased the number of vehicles in its fleet “to avoid [their] being exposed to the large number of clients who visit our various centres on a daily and monthly basis.” Approval was granted and vehicles were rented in New Providence, in Grand Bahama and in Abaco.
The Department also made it possible for persons from the community of persons with disabilities who are not clients of the Department to provide their information to Social Workers at the Disability Affairs Division via telephone so that they could receive emergency food assistance where necessary. They will be required to present IDs when they come to collect these coupons or when the coupons are delivered to them.
Contact numbers for the Disability Affairs Division are: 325-2251/2.
Minister Campbell also announced that persons with disabilities under the age of 16 who normally receive their services every two months, had their April assistance advanced to them in the month of March to facilitate whatever preparations they needed to make. Similar arrangements were also made for persons receiving foster care subsistence.
“I would like to take this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to encourage the community of persons with disabilities to register online with the Ministry’s link on the Government’s website www.bahamas.gov.bs. They may also email the Disabilities Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Disability Affairs Commission can be contacted on a 24-hour cell by Whatsapp at: 376-8328. We have endeavored to use every avenue to remain accessible, not only to our regular clients, but also to persons with disabilities and those who are generally in need.”
Minister Campbell told House Members that officials from the Department of Social Services have also been working — in partnership with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Ministry of Health and various non-governmental organizations — to promote food safety and security.
“Many of these organizations are challenged with being able to get hot meals and food parcels to persons that are home bound, and to persons who frequent their establishments daily,” Minister Campbell said.
“I want to reassure our partners that as we reevaluate our positions and as we reconsider the needs of our people, we are also reviewing our assistance to them and we will do all that we can to continue to nurture and strengthen those partnerships that we value so much. I want to assure them that they will hear from us in short order.”
Minister Campbell said the Ministry and the Department has also put measures in place to ensure that the assistance normally given to the seniors home, the children’s homes, the Williemae Pratt Centre for Girls and Simpson Penn Centre for Boys continue uninterrupted at this time.
Additionally, Minister Campbell said, the Department of Social Services continues to provide assistance to persons in need by assessing them for Emergency, Temporary or Permanent Food Assistance. He said the Department also continues to assist with utilities and that financial assistance for medical procedures are ongoing.
“Additional assistance for rent, and I want to pause there, Mr. Speaker, because coming out of this I would have heard some concerns about persons who are homeless. Mr. Speaker, the Department of Social Services has always made itself available to assist persons seeking rental assistance and so I say here for the record that anyone who is out there who is serious about wanting assistance in that regard, can access that very same line item.”
Minister Campbell said many of the Department of Social Services clients who receive food assistance (at present the programme is servicing just under 10,000 persons) are armed with Bank of The Bahamas Pre-paid cards upon which funds are uploaded monthly. Minister Campbell said the most recent upload took place on March 27 (2020).
“I am aware that there are a number of persons whose cards have expired in the interim. Those concerns have been expressed and are being addressed. I want to thank the staff at the Bank of The Bahamas who are working with us to renew those cards as soon as possible.”
Minister Campbell said the Department has also been charged with providing special food assistance to those persons who – as a result of the closure of the tourism sector — found themselves on reduced workweeks.
“This for us is uncharted territory. We initially established an email address asking persons to email us so that they can get the subsistence. In light of the fact that we were — while wanting to assist found it necessary to promote physical distancing — within a week, up to Saturday past, we had more than 3,000 persons throughout The Bahamas apply to that email address. I want those persons to know that they will begin getting responses starting today and I am advised, and I know that my team is listening and will not make a liar out of me, that as early as this Wednesday, coupons will be ready and persons will be contacted and advised (a) how they can collect those coupons or (b) how the coupons may be delivered to them.”
Minister Campbell said he would have also been advised that there is some concern that some of the measures put in place to protect citizens from the COVID-19 Pandemic “may have put some persons in some environments that ought to be safe but are not necessarily safe because it is in those home environments where some persons are abused and possibly worse.”
“Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the abusers that no time is a good time to commit acts of abuse. This is a time when they should reflect on the errors of their past and try to make amends and so I trust where some mistakes would have been made in the past, those perpetrators would repent of their ways and seek to build those bridges that they would have broken down.
BIS News by Matt Maura
CARPHA Team undertakes Assessment of Guyana’s National Surveillance System for Non-communicable Diseases
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
World Sight Day: Love Your Eyes
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)
- 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!
RBDF Congratulates Retired Commander Defence Force on National Honour Award
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)
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