PAHO conducting pilot studies in four countries to help make the most of these new diagnostics. Millions of these tests will be made available to countries of the Region at an accessible price via PAHO’s Strategic Fund
Washington D.C. – STATEMENT from October 14, 2020 (PAHO) – The new affordable, reliable antigen diagnostic tests recently approved by WHO that can be performed anywhere are set to transform the region’s COVID-19 response by allowing health workers to carry out accurate, rapid testing, even in remote communities, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa F Etienne, said today.
Unlike previous rapid, antibody tests, which can show when someone has had COVID-19 but often give a negative result during the early stages of infection, the new rapid, antigen tests are much more accurate in determining if someone is currently infected.
“By providing results quickly, the new test empowers frontline health workers to better manage cases by isolating patients to prevent further spread and to begin treatment immediately,” Etienne said in a press briefing. “If distributed widely, this new test will transform our COVID response.”
Etienne said the diagnostic tests will be particularly useful in hard to reach areas without easy access to a laboratory, which have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic.
PAHO’s Strategic Fund
“Today, PAHO can provide access to hundreds of thousands of these tests via PAHO’s Strategic Fund, with millions more expected in the coming weeks,” said Etienne.
The Strategic Fund is a regional technical cooperation mechanism for pooled procurement of essential medicines and supplies and is a central component of PAHO’s strategy to move towards Universal Health.
A pilot study is also currently being conducted by PAHO in Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Suriname. “With support from WHO, we will be providing these diagnostic tests free of cost as we keep a close eye on how they’re used. The data collected via this study will help countries within and outside of our region make the most of these new diagnostics,” Etienne said.
In the meantime, PAHO has also begun helping countries implement new testing protocols so that health workers know how to use the new diagnostics and report their results.
The PAHO Director urged countries to “bring these new tests to the hospitals and health clinics on the frontlines of our fight against the virus. But it’s important to remember that no single innovation is a panacea,” she said.
COVID-19 update in the Americas
More than 18 million COVID-19 cases and more than 590,000 deaths have been reported and “The state of the pandemic in the Americas remains complex,” Etienne said. Canada is facing a second wave, cases in Argentina continue to accelerate, the Caribbean is seeing a high number of cases, and in many countries, the pandemic has also moved to less populated areas, she noted.
“Since the pandemic began more than nine months ago, we have known that to beat this virus, we must transform our public health response. We need public health measures to prevent community transmission; fast, accurate and affordable diagnostic tests to determine when someone has been infected with COVID 19; new medicines to help COVID patients get better and, ultimately, a safe and effective vaccine,” Etienne said.
PCR diagnostic tests, which are highly accurate and must be conducted in lab settings remain the gold standard for testing, but delays in getting results mean that people run the risk of infecting others while they await results, she noted. “The new tests will
enable primary healthcare workers, whether they’re working in the middle of the Amazon, or in an urban center, to diagnose and care for patients immediately, stopping further infections in their tracks. And that is the gamechanger,” Etienne said.
She added that “it remains critical to stay the course in every aspect of our COVID response. We must continue to adhere to public health measures to prevent the spread of the virus. We must continue to test and isolate cases and trace their contacts to prevent new infections. And we must continue to let data underpin our actions to prevent any new cases from spreading out of control.”
Innovations must reach the people who need them most, and “To capitalize on the power of this new diagnostic, countries must make them available and accessible to everyone – regardless of who they are or where they live – to bring us closer to our promise for health for all,” Etienne said. The tests form part of the WHO Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator to develop, procure and distribute critical new tools to fight the pandemic
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PM Davis’ Remarks at Wreath Laying Ceremony – Majority Rule Day 2022
Happy Majority Rule Day to all and thank you for coming
I thank the organizers of this wreath laying ceremony because this auspicious occasion is a symbolic reminder of the significant role the Progressive Liberal Party and the Father of the Nation played in bringing about one of the most consequential and transformational events in our history, eclipsed only by the abolition of slavery in 1834.
With the addition of National Independence on 10th July 1973, these three epic events changed the course of Bahamian history forever and etched in the annals of history the Bahamian national identity and the depth of our indomitable spirit.
We must never grow weary of telling our story lest we lose our identity and heritage as a people.
Further — and more nationally — as a free, modern, democratic and independent state, history must record that Majority Rule Day is also an occasion where all Bahamians come together to reflect on and celebrate the enduring principles of democracy. Today then, I stand with my Bahamian brothers and sisters from all walks of life in memorializing this day as a seminal moment in the ever-evolving Bahamian story.
MAJORITY RULE IS A MAJOR TRIUMPH FOR DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM, HUMANITARIAN PRINCIPLES THAT WE HOLD NEAR AND DEAR TO OUR HEARTS. THESE PRINCIPLES ARE ALSO THE CHIEF PHILOSOPHICAL CORNER STONES AND PILLARS ON WHICH THIS COUNTRY WAS BUILT AND WILL SUSTAIN US FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.
We must never allow our detractors to minimize, trivialize or relegate this great day and event to the scrap heap of historical irrelevance. To do so is to dishonour the vision, memory and legacy of those great courageous souls on whose shoulders we stand.
We cannot and must not conveniently disinherit our glorious legacy because our truth is inconvenient to some.
A cause rooted in social justice, freedom fighters courageously stood in the vanguard of change – unyielding in their demand that all were created equal — with God-given rights to human dignity without regard to race, gender, colour or creed. This stand of conscience galvanized a nation, a generation of Bahamians, and in the process significantly reshaped the character and national identity of The Bahamas forever.
I pay tribute to the many unsung heroes and heroines whose endearing and enduring legacies of selflessness and shared sacrifices remain the gold standard of our national culture in both public life and in the way we conduct our personal affairs with one another.
I continue to draw, conviction, inspiration and influence from the passion of the Suffragettes, the labour movement, the church and from countless Bahamians who put it all on the line to secure a more perfect Commonwealth.
Speaking of passion, conviction, inspiration and influence, I wish to take a moment to recount the role the late Sir Sidney Poitier played and the contributions he made during our journey to Majority Rule.
Many Bahamians still recall his speaking to the issue at a reception in his honour to the then United Bahamian Party (UBP) government in recognition of his Academy Award for ‘Lilies of the Field.’
A well-known story in PLP circles is his assistance to the Progressive Liberal Party in the run up to the 1967 general elections. There is an iconic photo of Sir Sidney and Sir Lynden at the back of an open limousine celebrating the 1967 victory.
May he rest in peace.
As a beneficiary of their sacrificial work, I thank them all — Sir Lynden Pindling, Sir Milo Butler, Sir Randal Fawkes, Sir Clifford Darling, Dame Doris Johnson and Sir Sidney Poitier — for their passion, faith, perseverance and uncompromising commitment to social justice, democracy, freedom and a sense of fair play.
It is indeed an honour and a privilege to stand on their broad proverbial shoulders to continue their invaluable work in building a stronger and more perfect Commonwealth to positively impact the lives of generations yet unborn.
Our cause is indeed national, inclusive and intergenerational in its nature, range and scope.
On behalf of my wife Ann Marie, my cabinet and parliamentary colleagues, my government, the officers and members of the Progressive Liberal Party, I extend best wishes and highest regards to the people of The Bahamas as we celebrate Fifty-Five years of Majority Rule.
May Almighty God continue to bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Fulford says TCI’s Judiciary will be Established as a Regional Leader under CJ Agyeman
#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – The Legal Year 2022 opened on January 4th 2022 in a hybrid fashion, where the Chief Justice, Court of Appeal Judges, Supreme Court Judges, Magistrates and other Official participants hosted the ceremony at the Supreme Court building in person and where Attorneys and other dignitaries attended remotely via zoom link.
The ceremony today marked a welcomed improvement from last year, where covid19 numbers caused the 2021 opening ceremony to be in a strictly virtual fashion for all attendees.
This year’s ceremony saw a cadre of achievements listed by the Chief Justice in her short tenure such as:
- New Legal Aid Rules
- Establishment of a new Legal Aid Panel
- Establishment of a Legal Aid Roster for Civil and Criminal Matters
- Implementation of an 18 Month end date for Legal Aid Matters
- Establishment of a complaint mechanism for grievances against attorneys
- Establishment of Interim Payments
- Establishment of Legal Aid for Civil Cases
- Waiver of Supreme Court Fees for Civil Cases conducted under legal aid
- Establishment of Early Legal Aid from the investigative process.
- Establishment of Duty Counsels – where Legal Aid will allow those arrested on suspicion of crimes to have an attorney before charge;
- Legal Aid will extend to constitutional rights, habeus corpus, judicial review, domestic violence, contentions probate matters, welfare of Children matters, landlord dispute matters;
- Court Connected Mediation Rules
- Court to now promote ADR
- Establishment of Court mandated Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Creation of a Mediation Committee
- 42 Mediators are Trained
- Creation of a Roster of Mediators -11 are presently on the Roster
- Consultation has begun on restorative justice to pay reparation for Offences to promote reconciliation
- Establishment of Queens Counsel Selection Panel
- Establishment of Alternative Sentencing Guidelines
- Establishment of the first ever Bail Ordinance
- Establishment of a Sentencing Deadline Committee
- Establishment of a Magistrate Rules Committee
- Establishment of the Civil Procedure Rules Committee
- Establishment of Hybrid Hearings to allow Jury Trials to take place.
- Establishment of a Court/Legal Library;
- Continuous population of TCILII with judgements
- Re-Constitution of the Judicial Education Committee JEI
- JEI three workshops held for Court Staff
- JEI programs to equip Court Clerks with Paralegal training
- JEI trained the Bailiffs on Self Defence
- JEI armed Bailiffs with body cameras
- Establishment of Registrar of Magistrate Courts
- Onboarding of two Judicial Research Assistants
- Establishment of Code of Conduct for the Judiciary
- The House of Assembly have voted to provide 3 million dollars toward a state-of-the-art court building for The Judiciary.
- Two Buildings have been located and will be retrofitted to be used as Magistrate Courts in South Caicos and North Caicos.
Chief Justice Agyeman laid out other initiatives of the Judiciary and other Strategic priorities are as follows for 2022:
- The E-Judiciary initiatives will continue, that will provide paperless access to the digital platform.
- A dedicated space for ADR, being a center for parties to undertake mediation
- Legislation to bring clarity to Judicial officers is underway.
- Ethics and Integrity Training for Court Staff.
- Extensive electronic infrastructure is being implemented to improve virtual proceedings
- Ongoing work addressing gaps in treatment of Mental Health Issues and Juveniles in criminal justice
- A CJSG which is a collaboration of all stakeholders of justice that serves the public and is striving to provide a multi-level approach to provide access to quality criminal justice.
- The CJSG will also be publishing a calendar of community initiatives it will undertake to bring its work to the people they exist to serve.
Fulford views Chief Justice Mabel Agyeman in her role as Head of the Judiciary, as a Judge who sets goals and achieves them despite arduous challenges. The way in which the Chief Justice relentlessly pursues the Judiciary’s goals bodes well for the jurisdiction and no doubt her record of achievement in her short tenue will cause the TCI Judiciary to become known as a regional leader.
Fulford noted that the Turks and Caicos Islands’ Judiciary continues to grow from strength to strength because of the Chief Justice’s resourcefulness, perseverance and commitment to modernization and improvement.
Chief Justice Agyeman thanked the DPP personally and his office for assisting in the many Judiciary reforms. Further thanks were given to the Attorney General and the Bar Association through its President who was on hand to give and receive the remarks. Many thanks were Given to the Governor, Deputy Governor, Premier, Cabinet and Parliament for the support to the Judiciary.
Chief Justice Agyeman specially thanked the Acting Court Administrator Mrs Barbara Jervis, Her Registrar Ms Renee McLean and her Judicial Assistant Ms. Aisha DeFour.
In closing, The Hon. Chief Justice renewed her commitment and that of the entire Judiciary to continue to improve access to quality justice for all in TCI and to be untiring in their efforts to follow through on the plans outlined for 2022, and continue to strive to position the Judiciary to attain the stature of a resilient, and accountable institution.
Fulford indicated, it’s an opportune time to be serving the public in the legal profession.
Oil fund could repair crumbling infrastructure, improve health, education systems
By Kemol King
#Guyana, January 15, 2022 – Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, said the public school and healthcare systems, along with the country’s infrastructure network, could benefit from the development that will come from Guyana’s oil money.
He made the comments during a virtual interview with Globespan on Wednesday.
“Our government has been clear that… oil and gas will be used – there are some infrastructural issues.
Look at some of the infrastructure that we were left with. Look at some of the ports and the harbours, the roads, the bridges, look at them. A lot of them are dilapidated. Now, we are starting to build them.
He added that investments can also be made into reducing the costs of certain services like electricity, or into building the capacity of law enforcement to fight crime.
The minister said these sectors are where some of the major problems are, and act as bugbears for the country.
Already, the government has started rolling out an extensive infrastructure plan, building and repairing roads and highways across the country. The government has initiated processes for the construction of major infrastructural projects such as the Demerara River Crossing.
Investments are being made into upgrading healthcare facilities into modern sustainable providers for the poorest citizens.
In education, the government has provided 6,000 scholarships for ordinary Guyanese, and there are thousands more to come.
Minister Indar reminded that all the work government has done so far since taking up office in August 2020, have been done without using the oil money.
Some US$607 million sits in the Natural Resource Fund. The government has maintained that it would not spend a cent until a new Natural Resource Fund Act is in place. This was passed by the National Assembly and assented to by His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali in December.
The Act allows the government to withdraw the total balance of the Fund in the first year. The Ministry of Finance explained that it is important for Guyana to use its resources to fund its development agenda, instead of burdening Guyana with unsustainable debt. Even then, Minister Indar explained that the withdrawal rule moving forward will allow significant sums to be saved and be accrued, given expected ramp-ups in offshore oil production.
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