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Governor Speaks: Over 16,500 residents will be vaccinated by May; UK sending second batch of vaccines

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#TurksandCaicos, February 6, 2021 – Skillful negotiations, a willingness to safeguard its vulnerable territories and remarkable roll out of the first batch of the UK-gifted Covid-19 vaccine have brought the Turks and Caicos Islands even more good fortune; an additional 23,400 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine courtesy of the United Kingdom.

Again, that is without cost to TCI. That will allow us to vaccinate 40% of the population by May and that will start to make us one of the safest places to live, let alone one of the safest tourist destinations, in the world. Please keep registering on the portal,” said the Governor in a media statement issued on Friday.

“At 15%, we are now on course of being one of the world leaders in terms of the percentage of our population being vaccinated, particularly taking into account we have already started with second inoculations.  We will receive double the previous amount of vaccines during week beginning 22 February; that is 23,400 doses.”

This week, Turks and Caicos achieved a tremendous milestone.  All of the first doses of the vaccine were administered; exceeding expectations.  The roll out included all islands and will exhaust the first 9,750 vaccines well ahead of the March 31 expiry date of the first batch.

“Looking back we were initially uncertain if we could use all the vaccine by the end of March when the ‘use by date’ expired; in fact we achieved this goal by the end of January. The partnership with the private sector has been instrumental in this, has worked extremely well, and the delivery at the hospitals has, we believe, been first class. TCI have also rolled out, for the first time, an Electronic Immunization records (EIR) System to the benefit of both public and private medical sectors; so new ways of working are coming on stream too.

The first phase of the vaccination programme has gone extremely well.  The Team tasked to deliver this have beaten every target that was set in terms of engagement, the speed of delivery, our stewardship of the vaccine and our reach. So long as residents volunteered the Team prioritised: our senior citizens; those with underlying conditions and those on the front line. We have also been able to touch every Island and every age group.  This has demonstrated we can use the Pfizer vaccine throughout the archipelago.”

The team was led by co-chairs, Her Excellency Anya Williams, Deputy Governor and Hon Sharlene Robinson, Premier with the public awareness marshalled by Dr. Virignia Clerveaux, Director of the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies.

“The public information campaign seems to have helped and now there is momentum, amongst the population, with most of the major questions answered, and much nonsense on social media dispelled, we will continue to refine our engagement towards groups who are reluctant or particularly vulnerable. Many Pastors have been diligent in their engagement with us, informing themselves and through them informing others.”

Hindering skepticism in the territory, has waned; helped by the record levels of Covid-19 infections, three deaths so far in 2021 and a string of “myth-busting” meetings where country leaders and medical professionals addressed various groups.

“We respect everyone’s view, and their right to choose, but equally we don’t want anyone left behind because they either lacked the information they needed, or in some way feared access to a vaccine that we believe is their right to have.”

The territory has a unique demographic; the majority of adults are expatriate workers and as legal residents, many of the work permit holders were queued up in strong numbers for the free vaccine.  The governor said things have changed dramatically.

“Towards the end of this first vaccination period it was extremely encouraging to see more and more Turks Islanders coming forward. As of today (Thursday 5th February) we have vaccinated 6,114 persons (with a first dose); by census that is close to 15% of our population which makes TCI a world leader.”

Any question about the Governor’s sincerity in seeing residents protected by the vaccine could have been shelved when he and his wife Mandy were first to get the jab; but a tragic event further dismisses the notion that the governor is not sincerely supportive of the vaccine as the way to security and safety.

Millions in countries like the United Kingdom are standing in an unfathomably long line for their shots; Mr.  John Dakin, the governor’s father, was one of them.  The elder Dakin died in January 2021 to the coronavirus while resident in a care home in the UK.

“Those who have yet to receive the vaccine, and wish to, can usefully register on the portal.  If you do, we will get to you. If you know someone who needs help in accessing the Portal, please help them. Our aim is to vaccinate every resident in TCI, who wishes to be vaccinated, and our goal is to reach herd immunity as soon as we can. Our aspiration of being a world leader, and one of the safest destinations in the world once our population is vaccinated, is no longer just an aspiration but a reality – should you, TCI’s residents, wish it to be so. If you want to be part of this future register on www.covidvaccineregistration.gov.tc

This is over twice the amount we received last time and it will allow us to fully vaccinate more than 11,000 further residents. When we achieve that – which we will – we will have provided the vaccine (both doses) to 40% of our population. We hope to have done that by May.”

The vaccine should arrive the week of February 22.  The vaccine will continue to be free and voluntary.

Caribbean News

Worst time to be a Woman; a Haitian crises

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By Deandrea Hamilton

Magnetic Media 

 

#TurksandCaicos, June 24, 2022 – I know many of us are frustrated by the reports of illegal vessels breaching our waters, landing on our shores, costing us in repatriation expenses and overwhelming our small states and we’re not wrong to be bent out of shape by it.  However there are many facets to this maddening issue to sound alarms and from what I’m told and because of what I have noticed, the number of women increasingly taking the risk to runaway confirms the heartbreaking truth that abuses of this vulnerable group are escalating in frequency and violence.

A teenager, pregnant jumped from a balcony in Blue Hills (TCI) in desperation to escape pursuing law enforcers; it was dark, she could have died, she was hospitalized then sent back.

Turks and Caicos Police ‘stop & search’ operations are capturing many women; women who are trying to get to a job site in the many illegal jitneys moving around the town.

Sure it is all illegal, however it remains gut wrenching that these skittish ladies would have started the day on the hustle for a little cash only to be caught, with no document affirming legal status breaking the law. They will be deported and life will change, likely for the worse.

Haiti’s instability is driving the exodus of Haitian people.  The plummeting quality of life is pushing the “irregular migrants” as they are labelled to board boats, take to the ocean in pitch black conditions, driven by a desperate home.

Some make it, some do not.

The only death recorded or reported at the TCI detention center in years was this month; it was a Haitian woman. We don’t know what went wrong. But a journey toward a better life ended with the loss of hers.

I come from a set of nations – The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands – which have ensured I have a place.  Whether that’s school or college or a job or as an entrepreneur, room was made for me and laws are in place to enable and empower me. Not only do I have bread to eat, but I get to choose the type of bread I want to eat and can share it.

I am blessed. Truly.

But for my Haitian sisters, when you see their faces and the sadness in their eyes. When the human spirit is so shattered that it creeps into the dankest of places which is utter hopelessness, we should sit up and stand up.  This should capture our attentions.

In fact we should know, that for the hundreds we do encounter, there are countless more out there, unseen and trying to survive without being fortified by a force field of love, rule of law and simple decency.  There are too many more relentlessly buffeted by exploitation and circumstances outside of their control.

I suspect, this is the absolute worst time to be a woman or girl in Haiti. Just the worst.

Whether it is the recent memorial held to remember 11 Haitian women who perished at sea in early May trying to get in, undetected to Puerto Rico or a new and emerging report on describing the sexual abuse of Haitian women working at a factory; given sickening ultimatums:  Sex for their salary; an exploitation which usually draws throngs of people to vociferous protests in more developed countries; to this news however, there is silence and little reaction that we can see.

I declare that these women are significant.  They are valued despite the trials and tribulations of their homeland.  Within this dispensation, a post Black Lives Matter world, the darker complexion of many of their skins no longer means they are disposable.

And united, it means, women wherever we are can link hearts and hands to partake in and contribute to a shared stance of solidarity.  We can do it for the voiceless anywhere we want, we are women and though muted by the many dramas and truamas unfolding in our own lives, communities and countries, we still hear these voices crying and screaming out and we will help.

Just watch and see.  Women of Haiti, help is on the way.

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Macmillan Education Caribbean hosts panel discussion with the women of STEM

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June 23, 2022 – Macmillan Education Caribbean has been holding its Summer of Science for the last two weeks, focusing on “Discovering Scientists” across the Caribbean.  Now, it announces its second exciting event in the wider campaign.

In a panel discussion hosted by Macmillan Education Caribbean, three women in the STEM industry will be invited to discuss their experiences in the field, offer advice for young women aspiring to have a career in science, and more. The panel, called Opening up science: Meet the Women in STEM will be hosted online, at 1:00pm AST on Tuesday 28th June.

The event features three fantastic panellists: Dr Claire Durant, Niva Miles, and Dr Joanne Simmons-Boyce.  Between them, they have amassed a wealth of experience at various different touchpoints of the STEM field; from authoring science textbooks and serving on examinations councils, to teaching science and practising natural products chemistry.

With Dr Claire Durant and Dr Joanne Simmons-Boyce being Barbadian scientists, and Niva Miles having authored Human and Social Biology for CSECⓇ Examinations, each of the panellists will bring a unique view on science in the Caribbean to the conversation, which will be especially useful to those watching.

The event is open to all, although young women and female educators are especially encouraged to attend. In a blog she wrote for Macmillan Education Caribbean on the importance of championing women in science, Dr Claire Durant said:

“To establish an inclusive scientist workforce, women and girls need to see themselves reflected in their teachers in the classroom as well as in the scientists who develop the technology, medicine, beauty, engineering and entertainment products that we use every day.”

Macmillan Education Caribbean is strongly encouraging schools to get involved in creative ways, by hosting ‘watch parties’ for the panel discussion inside classrooms, or by getting students and teachers to submit questions for the panellists.

In the fortnight surrounding the panel event, Macmillan Education Caribbean’s channels will be exploring Science for Life, and will be introducing the panellists in more detail, whilst also exploring the accessibility of science and spotlighting the title Human and Social Biology for CSECⓇ Examinations, which this panel was inspired by.

The Human and Social Biology for CSEC Examinations title is centred around “opening up” science, making it both accessible and engaging for learners of varying abilities. In this visually engaging series, a range of different routes to learning are explored – from animated videos to aid understanding, and project guidance for undertaking the independent School-based Assessment.

You can follow the Summer of Science across Macmillan Education Caribbean’s social media channels, visit their website for more information, or follow the hashtag #ScienceForLife to get involved with the next phase of the campaign.

Teachers and students can register for the discussion at  https://macmillanic.clickmeeting.com/opening-up-science-meet-the-women-in-stem/register.

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CARPHA Continues to Focus on Results Based Management to Achieve Results for the CARICOM Region

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, June 23, 2022 –  On June 15th and 17th, employees of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) participated in a training workshop aimed at increasing the Agency’s capacity to deliver results and to be able to assess the impact of its work.  The Strategic Planning, Results Based Management (RBM) and Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Workshop forms part of a series of activities being undertaken by Le Groupe-Conseil Baastel.  Baastel was awarded the consultancy to Institutionalise Results Based Management at the Agency, in September 2021, this consultancy will also facilitate the development of CARPHA’s Strategic Plan 2022-2025.

In her opening remarks, Dr Joy St. John, Executive Director of CARPHA stated, “While the Agency already operates within a results-oriented reality, it welcomed the opportunity for the employees to collectively, take an in-depth view of the strategic planning process.”  She added that the exercise would help to clearly show what CARPHA has achieved and what the Agency hopes to achieve in the future.  She highlighted that the training would, “help us deepen our understanding of these processes and how we can each contribute to the importance of this process.”

Head of Vector Borne Diseases, Dr Horace Cox expressed that he is optimistic that the Agency would have even greater impact moving forward and felt that the workshop was beneficial because it “teaches how we can use the data of today to guide the design and implementation of the interventions of tomorrow”.  While Dr Rian Extavour, Programme Manager of the Caribbean Regulatory System shared, “Many aspects of the session made me more aware of how we can be even more creative to find other opportunities to strengthen what we do.”

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, with the support of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), developed and implemented the CARICOM Results-Based Management (RBM) System based on the Community Strategic Plan 2015-2019.  The CARICOM RBM System was developed to serve as a mechanism to engender a more results-oriented culture within the Region.  It was executed to improve implementation rates, increase accountability, transparency and improve governance of the Community.  All regional institutions, including The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), were then mandated by CARICOM Heads of Government to adopt the RBM approach and institutionalise RBM in their operations. With activities such as these workshops, CARPHA is well on its way to fulfilling this mandate. Dr. Mark Sami, Director of Corporate Services elaborated that “RBM will ensure that organisational efficiency is enhanced because all departments whether corporate or technical will direct their energies towards the achievement of set objectives, thus ensuring unity in purpose.”

Funding for this activity is being provided by the European Union (EU) through the 11th European Development Fund (11th EDF) Programme of Support for Health Security Strengthening for Prevention and Control of Outbreaks of Communicable Diseases in the Caribbean, for which CARPHA is the Executing Agency.  The Secretariat of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) has supported CARPHA’s access to these resources. This project, which is valued at €8,000,000.00 and has a duration of four (4) years, will enhance the institutional capacity of CARPHA to effectively support the Caribbean in preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.

For additional information on the EU Project:

https://carpha.org/Projects/Ongoing-Projects/11th-EDF-Regional-Health-Security

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