#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.
CANARI outlines climate priorities ahead of Cop28
The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) informed that the Caribbean Climate Justice Alliance, in preparation for the upcoming annual COP28 in 2023, launched its “Caribbean Climate Justice and Resilience Agenda,” outlining the priorities for climate justice and resilience in vulnerable Caribbean small island developing states (SIDS).
In a press release, CANARI highlighted that the agenda recognizes the major threat of climate change to the region as well as aims to louden the voices of the at-risk groups “on the frontlines of the climate crisis and catalyze actions for climate justice and local resilience in the Caribbean SIDS.”
The priorities stated under the agenda are:
- Curbing emissions to limit global temperature
increase to 1.5 ̊C
- Scaling up locally-led solutions for adaptation and
loss and damage
- Improving access to and delivery of climate finance
for frontline communities, small and micro enterprises, and civil society organizations as part of a ‘whole of society’ approach
- Scaling up just, nature-based solutions for resilience
- Supporting a just transition for pro-poor, inclusive,
sustainable and resilient development
- Promoting gender equity and social inclusion
approaches to climate action
- Promoting youth and intergenerational equity as
core to the climate response
- Integrating a rights-based and earth-centered
approach in addressing all these priorities and ensuring climate justice
The at-risk groups referred to in the release include small-scale farmers and fisherfolk, rural women producers, income-poor people, elderly and disabled people, Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, migrants, and LGBTQIA+ people.
Being cognizant of the severity of the effects of climate change on the Caribbean, CANARI referred to the fact that the very existence of the region is on the line.
“If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated and global temperature exceeds 1.5 ̊C, the impacts of rising sea levels, more intense hurricanes, rainfall variability, ocean acidification, and other changes threaten the very existence of our way of life in the Caribbean and other SIDS that have contributed the least to global emissions.”
CARICOM Sec Gen speaks on Gender Based Violence
“Everyone must continue to invest in preventing violence against our women and girls (VAWG). It is an investment in our shared future,” were the words of Dr. Carla N. Barnett, CARICOM Secretary-General, as she reiterated the need for solutions against VAWG.
She called attention to VAWG as she gave a speech surrounding the annual campaign “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence,” which runs from November 25 to December 10, 2023.
Barnett expresses the well-known fact that VAWG is one of the most prevalent issues affecting all corners of society.
“VAWG remains one of the most pervasive forms of human rights violations in the world and cuts across all races, cultures, genders, and educational backgrounds,” she maintained, as she continued to point out the sad reality that this is still a major issue despite regional and global policies.
“Despite the existence of regional and global policies and legislation to combat VAWG, weak enforcement and discriminatory practices remain significant barriers to ending VAWG.”
The Secretary-General highlighted statistics for VAWG, bringing attention to how serious and embedded this issue is in society.
She said that globally, 736 million women—nearly one in three—have experienced violence—physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or even both.
For the Caribbean region, she said surveys conducted between 2016 and 2019 inform us that one in two women experience intimate partner violence, which is higher than the global average.
In continuation, Barnett expressed that the campaign calls everyone to action against VAWG, including “development partners, civil society organizations, women’s organizations, youth, the private sector, and the media.” Also, world governments are being asked to share how they are investing in gender-based violence prevention.
Ending her address, the Secretary-General urged everyone to wear the color orange for the duration of the campaign, as well as on the 25th of each month, “as a symbol of hope for a brighter future where women and girls live free from violence.”
Support for Flood-Affected Farmers
#Kingston, November 26, 2023 – A total of $157 million is to be provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining, to support farmers affected by the recent heavy rains from Potential Tropical Cyclone 22.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Floyd Green, made the announcement during a National ‘Eat Jamaican Day’ ceremony in Portland on Friday (November 24).
The Minister lamented that the country had moved from a period of harsh drought to the next extreme – flooding.
“A number of our farmers suffered tremendous loss and the team from RADA (Rural Agricultural Development Authority) has been out since last week Saturday, trying to quantify what has been the losses that have been suffered by our farmers,” he said.
According to the Minister, preliminary figures reveal that $274 million in damage was done to the agricultural sector, with livestock farmers suffering about $25 million in losses; equipment loss of over $10 million; $173 million in crop loss; and $64 million in damage to the farm road network.
“The good news is that we are not going to leave our farmers alone and we know, as they said to the Prime Minister when he toured last week, that once they get some support, they are willing to go back out and farm,” Mr. Green indicated.
The $157 million support package from the Ministry will be used in several ways. A total of $70 million is to be provided for crop support – inputs, seeds, and fertilizers – and another $8 million for equipment support.
A total of $15 million will be expended for support to livestock and $64 million will be used to rehabilitate farm roads.
Minister Green also announced that resulting from a gift from the Kingdom of Morocco, 24,000 bags of fertilizers will be distributed among farmers over the next two weeks.
The Minister informed that the parish that was most affected by the recent weather event was St. Thomas and that, “almost every farming community in St. Thomas suffered from flood damage.”
Farming communities in St Andrew were also cut off because of landslides.
Contact: Mickella Anderson-Gordon
Photo Caption: Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining, Hon. Floyd Green.
Photo by Mark Bell
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