#Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos – October 18, 2020 — Individuals who struggle with being overweight in the Turks and Caicos got the kind of vocal support in the House of Assembly, which makes those in our bariatric community feel a lot lighter.
It is reported that there have to be policy changes in order for bariatric patients to have their severe obesity re-considered.
It is not cosmetic. It is a serious medical condition which could be the difference between life and death.
“It is nothing that is cosmetic. It is something that is life threatening and it is would appear as if their voices are not being heard loud enough. Those persons live lives in a way that they don’t know if they are going to go to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow, that’s how bad it is,” said Hon Dwayne Taylor, Speaker of the TCI House of Assembly.
It was agreement with a presentation by the member for Grand Turk North, Hon George Lightbourne who is calling for efforts to amend the laws to be accelerated.
“I’ve gotten reports from persons who are concerned. Persons who find themselves in need of – I believe the correct term would be: bariatric surgery – life threatening surgery and I’ve been asked to address it. The relevant minister, I’m not sure how far you’ve gotten in terms of amending policies and doing whatever you have to do but it’s a real issue,” said Lightbourne during House of Assembly on October 13.
In a Letter to the Editor in June 2020, it was said: “Some of us have been told over two years ago that they are amending the policy to include this procedure under the NHIP Scheme, and to date, nothing yet. Some of us have been given month to month promises for the last three years that hopefully we would be out of here in a few weeks’ time to a month to undergo surgery, and to date, nothing yet.”
The TCI Bariatric Group is a community now; in solidarity as they advocate to be acknowledged and approved for the life-saving procedure. In the June letter to Magnetic Media, the Group talked about steps taken and disappointments experienced.
“For those of you who do not understand the term Bariatric, it is simply means the medical treatment of obesity which is being seriously overweight and a number of us have been deemed medically morbidly obese,” it was added, “We were told that if we got referrals from the doctors, that our issues would be place before the cabinet and that it should not be a problem for us to be given the bariatric procedure which is so badly needed to save all of our lives, so we all went and got numerous of referrals, some exceeding as much as five. We followed the necessary procedures, only to be told that are referrals were refused because the NHIP Policy does not cover this procedure and that it is deemed a cosmetic procedure.”
The Governor, the Premier and the Minister of Health are reportedly aware of the vexing battle of the Bariatric Group.
Lightbourne expressed, it is time for the mischaracterization of the condition to cease.
“Cosmetic, Mr. Speaker is something that you do for fashion and you do because you want to look better. When the issue is pertaining to something that is life threatening, we ought to take it serious and we ought to act with haste.”
The surgery, according to the Bariatric Group costs around $10,500. The members are all National Health Insurance Plan (NHIP) contributors and question the lackluster pace to make the adaptations which would all the NHIP to cover the costs of the surgery.
“We need help, we need this government to live up to the promise made to us. We were told that monies have already been budgeted for these procedures from last year budget and as of today nothing.
Persons on the outside would look and say, oh go and exercise you all too lazy, or stop eating, you all too greedy and frankly that is not the case. Many of us cannot exercise because of our knees, our backs or something else, and really food is not an issue. It is simply a metabolism issue, a genetic issue or some other kind of medical issue.
Every country we have contacted is offering this surgery free of cost to locals once persons meet the medical requirements, what is wrong with our Country?”
Hon Lightbourne offered this in conclusion: “I think that our number one interest should be to do whatever it takes to make life better, Mr. Speaker.
RTCIPF Marine Branch and USCG Working Together in Keeping Our Borders Secure
#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – During the afternoon of Wednesday 19th May 2022, a call was made to the RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre via VHF radio that a suspicious vessel was sighted around 35 miles south east of Providenciales. The operator immediately updated colleagues within the Royal Turks and Caicos Marine Branch who made their way to the location and with the support of a US Coast Guard (USCG) plane, safely intercepted an overloaded vessel carrying irregular migrants.
Following delicate coordination and the stabilization of the boat which was unsafe, severely overcrowded and none of the occupants was wearing life vests, the RTCIPF marine unit was joined by a second RTCIPF Marine crew and a third vessel crewed with TCI Regiment and Tactical Unit officers to support the delicate operation.
The vessel was carefully offloaded at sea to ensure the safety of the occupants after which, the boat was towed to South Dock where it arrived around 10:30pm with a total of 110 persons (84 males and 24 females and 2 juveniles) who were then taken into custody by the Immigration Department.
Superintendent Martyn Ball said, “Once again working with partners we have safely intercepted another vessel that was overcrowded, unsafe, risking the lives of those on board. This demonstrates the professionalism and dedication of the RTCIPF Marine Unit, working together with colleagues in the Marine Operations Centre, USCG, TCI Regiment, TCI Immigration and the RTCIPF Tactical Unit to save lives and keep our borders here in the Turks and Caicos safe. In the last couple of months around 768 individuals on 8 dangerous vessels have been intercepted which is testament to the professionalism of our teams here in the TCI and I am very grateful to the passing vessel who raised the alarm. I would appeal to anyone if you have any information relating to such activity that you call Crimes Stoppers free and anonymously on 1-800-8477 (TIPS) not only will you be saving lives but also supporting our national security here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”
Ten Selected for the TCREA Real Estate Mentorship Program
#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – Since the official announcement of the Turks & Caicos Real Estate Association’s High School Mentorship Program, ten mentees have been selected for the inaugural group and will begin their journey on the road to embracing the fundamentals of the real estate field this month.
TCREA Ambassador and Director of the mentorship program, Mr. Trevor Musgrove, shared how pleased the committee was to have received thirty applications for the program, “We extended the opportunity to high schoolers and young college students aged 13-17. Initially, the invitation for applications was shared only with Providenciales students because of the logistical challenge to accommodate in-person sessions with sister island students, as all our committee members are based in Providenciales.
Luckily, once the Ministry of Education came on board and endorsed the program, Honourable Rachel Taylor immediately encouraged us to extend the mentorship opportunity to all islands, pledging her Ministry’s commitment to handling the necessary authorizations and cost to ensure successful applicants outside of Provo would be able travel here as needed,” said Musgrove.
The successful applicants and their respective schools are as follows:
· Clement Howell High – Dashawn Brooks, Alyssa Callum
· Raymond Gardiner High – Olique Stubbs, Lewis Walkin, Jr.
· Precious Treasures – Aniyah Bovie
· Maranatha Academy – Shamya Missick
· British West Indies Collegiate – Pavla Lalakova, Andino Parker
· Louise Garland Thomas High – Abnise Noel, Antoine Gedeon
Musgrove said they were pleased to have had applicants from North Caicos and were hopeful to have students from Grand Turk and South Caicos among the group, however no applications were received from those islands.
On Tuesday, May 10th the final group came together for a virtual meet-up and briefing, where they were formally introduced to the program’s mentors and were given an overview of what to expect in the coming months.
The teens will receive a monthly educational module over the next six months and will be provided 1-2 weeks to internalize the information. They will then enjoy a monthly in-person session with their mentors where they will put their real estate acumen to the test in interactive sessions, field trips, and more.
Program mentor Manfred Smith of Sotheby’s Turks & Caicos shared his elation for the program’s momentum thus far, “We are excited about providing this opportunity to introduce high school students to the real estate industry. From the initial feedback, the students are also very keen to learn, which makes it rewarding for all as we contribute to the development of tomorrow’s professionals.”
Smith says the program also demonstrates TCREA’s continued commitment as good corporate citizens in the rapidly growing country. The committee hopes that the mentees would grasp all that they can as they continue their educational pursuits.
The program’s Facebook page, @tcreamentors, is live and will document the group’s journey as they move through the program’s phases. Along with Musgrove and Smith, the community can get to know more about the other committee members: Blair MacPherson of REMAX; Nina Siegenthaler of Sotheby’s; Vernica Delancy and Dedra Gray of Keller Williams; and Sean O’neill, of The Agency through the social media page as well.
At the end of the program, the students will sit a mock real estate license exam and will enjoy a retreat for a fun and memorable close-out.
It is TCREA’s hope that this initiative will garner an interest and appreciation for the industry among high-schoolers and will act as springboard to the development of the next generation of local real estate professionals in these islands.
DECR Launches Important Tropical Plant Areas & Species in TCI Project
#TurksandCaicos, May 19, 2022 – The Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) along with visiting scientists from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) will launch the DarwinPlus 114 Project Tropical Important Plant Areas and Important Plant Species in TCI. The project was originally to begin in May 2020, but with Covid-19-related travel restrictions, along with restructuring at DECR and RBG Kew, two years of deferments were necessary. The project has begun and will be officially launched this week in a workshop on Thursday 12 May 2022 beginning at 9:00 AM in the National Environmental Centre.
In reference to the project, DECR Director Lormeka Williams stated, “With the recent completion of the National Physical Development Plan, the signing of the Climate Change Charter, and the review of the National Parks Ordinance, we are poised and ready to utilise new information on land use and impacts to our Protected Areas and green spaces. We are newly energised to commit to the discovery and description of our most sensitive and significant plant diversity hotspots. We’re inspired by our colleagues in the British Virgin Islands having completed the pilot of this project. We are also ready and excited to find out what these plants are that evade identification and may prove to be something unknown to science.”
The project is focused on identifying Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs) in Turks and Caicos Islands. TIPAs are a network of the key sites for wild plants and threatened habitats identified using scientifically robust data. They are not legal designations, but a means to identify the most important sites for wild plant diversity and to inform the protection and management of sites. Identifying TIPAs will help prevent the global loss of plant diversity, whilst safeguarding the role of plants as primary producers and providers of ecosystem infrastructure, products, and services.
TIPAs also provides a framework for Governments to implement target 5 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Global Strategy for Plant Conservation – to ensure the protection of at least 75% of the most important areas for plant diversity of each ecological region by 2020 with effective management in place for conserving plants and their genetic diversity. TIPAs also contribute to implementing the CBD’s Aichi Biodiversity Target 12 – by 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained. Criteria for identification of Tropical Important Plant Areas were developed, and the first nationwide project was completed by RBG Kew and the Virgin Islands National Parks Trust in the British Virgin Islands in 2019. Assistant Director of Research and Development B Naqqi Manco participated in the April 2019 BVI TIPAs Workshop, and discussed the potential to replicate the project with long-established partners at RBG Kew in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Following the TCI TIPAs Launch Workshop, the DECR and RBG Kew team will trial the criteria over several sites of high plant diversity in Providenciales, North Caicos, and Middle Caicos. Over the next three years, the teams will cover other islands as well. Of particular importance will be the Turks and Caicos Islands eight known endemic plant species – those found nowhere else on earth. A secondary component of the project focuses on investigating some unique populations of rare plants in TCI, which may constitute new varieties or even species. RBG Kew will use DNA analysis to explore the relationship of these species to their closest relatives. Importantly, the rare and endemic species will be targeted for IUCN Red Data Listing as well, to assess their wild population status and trends.
Photo: This beautiful Encyclia orchid is one of the unique groups of plants that will be studied by the project.
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