#April 7, 2021 – World Health Day will be observed on 7 April 2021, under the theme “Together for a fairer, healthier world”. It is a call for urgent action to eliminate health inequities and mobilise action to attain better health for all and leave no one behind.
Health inequities are unjust, unfair, and widen the equity gaps, preventing people from reaching their full potential due to where a person is born, lives, grows, and works. These health inequities are largely felt among those who are disadvantaged and often experience discrimination which may lead to illnesses, morbidity and premature mortality.
“Reducing health inequities is important because health is a fundamental human right. Everyone deserves to live a healthy life regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, disability, economic situation or employment. Health inequities go against the very fabric of social justice because they are avoidable,” stated Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
To promote prevention, a whole of society approach is necessary. It is important to work together with those who are in affected communities, address inequity issues, implement solutions, and work with governments to create a harmonised system. In addition, health information systems should be able to identify vulnerable populations, and health inequities should be monitored to ensure everyone has access to quality health services without discrimination.
Several factors contribute to inequities such as poverty, unemployment, environmental challenges, gender inequalities, and most recently, the emergence of COVID-19. The pandemic has had grave consequences for people already experiencing inequities. It has disproportionately impacted those people already socially and economically disadvantaged.
“The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the difficulties in ensuring access for persons with chronic diseases, vulnerable communities, and those facing inequalities, to receiving healthcare. We need to ensure that the rights of persons living with chronic diseases are not violated, and the provision of chronic disease prevention and control services continue for children, adolescents, adults and vulnerable populations during COVID-19,” said Dr. St. John.
CARPHA supports Member States’ access to quality health care and essential medicines, by providing public health services in areas such as laboratory testing, environmental health, surveillance, program development and policy advice. This contributes to a positive effect on the provision of services to communities and ultimately on their health and well-being.
Through its Caribbean Regulatory System, CARPHA helps Member States to reduce the cost of quality medicines to consumers and the health system, thereby improving accessibility and affordability.
CARPHA collaborates with national, regional and international partners to ensure Caribbean people have access to an adequate and sustainable supply of potable water for consumption, to satisfy hygiene and sanitation, while maintaining availability for the sustenance of ecosystem functionality.
CARPHA urges Member States to develop and implement fairer policies and actions to achieve health equity. Countries are encouraged to strengthen intersectoral, regional and national action to address the social determinants of health approach – gender equity, right to health, the monitoring of health inequalities, strengthening of health systems, and knowledge dissemination.
Stigma and discrimination also contribute to reducing access to social determinants of health, rights, and preventive services, including delay in seeking healthcare, must be addressed at individual, organisational and societal levels.
This year CARPHA joins the world to observe World Health Day. It is a call for all leaders to monitor health inequalities and address their root causes to ensure that everyone has access to the living and working conditions that are conducive to good health and to quality health services where and when they need them, and to invest in primary health care to achieve health for all by all.
We all need to ensure that no one is left behind.
National Food Policy to be created in the Bahamas
By Shanieka Smith
#TheBahamas, February 2, 2023 – A new initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs in the Bahamas will see the creation of a National Food Policy geared towards ensuring food security on the island.
“This agricultural policy would encompass a holistic approach and incorporate regulations, legislation, and other aspects to assist the farmers who have not really gotten the attention they deserve for a long time,” said the Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, Hon. Clay Sweeting.
Other initiatives within the agriculture sector will also be implemented, such as the digitalization of applications and forms, which will make farming more efficient.
Clay said, “we have already digitalized for the most part the Department of Marine Resources and soon we will unveil new services such as dog licences, import permits, and other services needed for a successful agricultural sector.”
The construction of the Cultivation Centres (TCC) in Eleuthera and New Providence with produce exchange, food processing kitchens and farm stores will continue.
Sweeting said he hopes these initiatives will help to decrease the country’s yearly $1 billion food import bill.
Consumer protection, 85 businesses to be put under watch
By Dana Malcolm
February 2, 2023 – Grocery stores and dozens of other businesses will be under the microscope soon as the government begins aggressively enforcing the Consumer Protection Ordinance passed back in 2016 with an all-new Compliance and Regulatory Enforcement (C.A.R.E) Drive.
Carried out by the Department of Trade, Industry, and Fair Competition the drive aims to “actively educate providers whilst enforcing the main provisions to protect consumers under the Consumer Protection Ordinance,” a press release explained.
Firstly, Consumer Officers charged with protecting the people of the TCI from unfair business practices will be assessing the prices of selected breadbasket items in 23 different stores countrywide each month to see whether price gouging is being carried out by businesses.
Breadbasket items are currently duty-free under the Food and Fuel Tax Break until the end of the financial year in March and all savings from those tax exemptions should be passed on directly to the consumer. After each assessment, which will continue for several months at least a monthly price report will be published on the Department of Trade’s website.
In addition, the Consumer Officers will be monitoring other business activities across the country “to ensure that providers are compliant with their duties to consumers.”
Those responsibilities include:
- Giving customers certain basic information about goods and services being sold;
- Informing consumers about terms and conditions before any payment is made (e.g., warranties, refunds, returns, exchanges, etc.) and;
- Abstaining from misleading and deceptive conduct, false representation and unfair business practices.
The government says they will reach at least 85 businesses with the C.A.R.E. Drive but they did not indicate the process behind how these businesses had been singled out. Non-compliant ones will be fined after a thorough investigation and warnings are issued by the Department of Trade.
With this in mind, business owners are being encouraged to familiarize themselves with their duties under the Ordinance lest they be caught in breach. The government did not say what entities would be assessed and whether that included major retail grocery stores, gasoline dealers, water companies, electricity providers, telecommunications companies and other essential providers of the services that all islanders spend on.
74 Foreign Nationals Convicted in The Magistrate’s Court
#TheBahamas, February 2, 2023 – In Magistrate’s Court #1 today, seventy-two (72) foreign nationals were arraigned before Magistrate Algernon Allen Jr. for various immigration offenses.
Thirty-two (32) Cuban nationals were convicted of Illegal Landing. Two (2) of them were subsequently sentenced to four months in the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDOCS). Thirty (30) were conditionally discharged and released to the Department of Immigration to be deported.
A total of forty (40) Haitian nationals were convicted of Illegal Landing. Two (2) received custodial sentences of three months at BDOCS, and thirty-seven (37) were conditionally discharged and released to the Department to be deported. In addition to the charge of Illegal Landing, one (1) Haitian man was also convicted of Knowingly Attempting to Misleading an Immigration Officer and subsequently sentenced to six months at BDOCS on each count. The sentences are to run concurrently.
Three (3) Haitian nationals were also charged with Overstaying. Two (2) pleaded guilty and were convicted. Respectively they were fined $2,000.00 or, in default of payment, served six months at BDOCS, conditionally discharged, and deported. One (1) Haitian female pleaded not guilty, and the matter was adjourned to a later date. Upon payment of fines, completion of sentences, and discharge, all persons were ordered to be turned over to the Department of Immigration for deportation.
The Department remains committed to executing our mandate to ensure compliance with the Statue Laws of our country.
For more information, call the Public Relations Unit at 1-242-322-7530, visit our website at www.immigration.gov.bs, or call our Investigation hotline anonymously, at 1-242-604-0249.
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