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UB and Verizon Media Group Hosting Historic General Election National Debate Series



Press Release: Political candidates will be scrutinized and have the opportunity to debate pivotal issues facing The Bahamas via a series of televised, national debates leading to the next general election through a collaboration involving University of The Bahamas (UB) and Verizon Media Group (VMG).

At a recent press conference announcement, Co-Chair of the Planning Committee and Associate Professor of History Dr. Christopher Curry asserted that UB is hosting the debate series as universities are traditionally incubators of grand ideas, conflicting points of view, and disparate schools of thought.

“This series of debates will provide all political parties regardless of size, longevity, or stature-an opportunity to openly debate policy and platform as equal rivals in an academic space that treasures and promotes robust and rigorous discussion, critical thinking, and a reflection on how best to serve and promote the common good,” explained Dr. Curry.

Four political debates are scheduled to be held at UB’s Performing Arts Centre at the Oakes Field Campus on 4th and 18th May and 3rd and 15th of June featuring representatives from various political parties which are fielding candidates for the next general election. The questions will focus on diverse issues of national importance to The Bahamas. One of the debates will focus on youth candidates ratified by the parties and at least one UB student. The
others will provide a platform for the governing Free National Movement, Opposition Progressive Liberal Party and other political parties to be questioned on matters about which Bahamian voters care deeply.

The collaboration to facilitate the debate series is being governed by a Memorandum of Understanding.

“It is also our shared belief that we must raise and deepen the standard of our dialogue by focusing on the issues important to the citizenry and the nation at large. We will field in studio and social media questions, along with conducting, pre, live and post poling of each debate. This will allow for a broader level of participation and input from those most impacted by an Administration’s proposed Legislative Agenda and Public Policy,” said VMG
General Manager Gershan Major.

VMG is the parent company of Eyewitness News which is providing comprehensive broadcast support for the political debate series. For each debate, there will be four scripted questions, followed by a series of audience-generated questions. The scripted questions will be submitted to debaters in advance once participation is confirmed.

While UB is providing the physical space for the event, as well as a neutral arena, due to COVID-19 health regulations, strict protocols on social distancing, sanitization, and temperature checks will be enforced, and the number of in-person attendees will be restricted to 20 persons. Nonetheless, Dr. Curry said UB could not have asked for a better
arrangement given the University’s prominence and important function in Bahamian society.

“It’s important for our callers, our observers, our listeners, our viewers to mark these dates on your calendars. You’re going to learn a lot about your own country going forward,” said UB President and CEO Dr. Rodney D. Smith. “Equally important, you are going to learn a lot about your potential leaders of tomorrow. You have to know who are going to be leading you. This is your opportunity to make a decision as to which direction your country is going to go and you have a part to play. Just as much as the politicians have a part to play, you do as well. You have to vote, you have to be a part of this process. You have to participate in these debates.”

Notably, EWN/VMG plans to decentralize coverage to accommodate viewers in the Family Islands by live streaming the event and using various focus group sites strategically located across The Bahamas.

“As we continue to traverse this uncertain, and unprecedented environment, we are elated to be part of such an historic moment that is poised to not only raise the level of political discourse in this country but to truly democratize the process,” said Ms. Ava Turnquest, Head of Digital at EWN/VMG and General Election National Debate Series Planning Committee Co-Chair. “We truly believe this is our duty as members of the fourth estate.”

According to event organizers, letters have already been formally sent to all political parties contesting the upcoming general election with many of the political parties having submitted either verbal or written responses confirming their participation.

Office of University Relations
University of The Bahamas
2nd Floor, Michael H. Eldon Complex
Oakes Field Campus
P.O. Box N-4912
Nassau, The Bahamas
Tel: (242) 302-4355/4354/4365

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Bahamas News

CARPHA Team undertakes Assessment of Guyana’s National Surveillance System for Non-communicable Diseases



October 14, 2021 – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) conducted a technical mission to Guyana from September 22nd – 25th, 2021 to undertake site visits as a part of an ongoing assessment of six (6) Member States’ systems for the national surveillance of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors. This activity was implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Guyana through an Agence Française de Développement (AFD) – funded project.

The aim of the assessment s to provide evidence in support of the development of a Regional Surveillance System for NCDs, a priority under the regional health framework Caribbean Cooperation in Health IV (2016-2025).

During the mission, the CARPHA technical team reviewed the capacity of existing surveillance mechanisms in Guyana to collect, analyse and report on the NCDs and risk factor indicators proposed for the regional surveillance system. These indicators were recommended by a multi-stakeholder meeting series convened in 2020 under the AFD project, which reviewed global, regional, and sub-regional mandates, targets and practices in surveillance for the prevention and control of NCDs.

The CARPHA Team along with senior officials from the Ministry of Health conducted visits to two (2) health centres, the National Cancer Registry, Ministry of Health Surveillance, and Statistics Unit.  The results from the overall assessment will be presented to the Ministry of Health Guyana and will also be reviewed alongside results from similar assessments in Anguilla, Aruba, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname to inform the finalisation of the regional surveillance system design through a regional stakeholder meeting.

The regional NCDs surveillance system would facilitate the reporting and availability of data to inform policy development, planning, and tracking of progress towards meeting for targets NCDs at Regional and National levels.

Through funding from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), CARPHA is leading the Region in Strengthening Strategic Intelligence and Partnership Approaches to prevent and control NCDs and Strengthen Regional Health Security in the Caribbean. This project, signed in 2019 with a value of €1,500,000.00, demonstrates the commitment of the Government of France and the French people to supporting the public health priorities of the Caribbean Community through CARPHA.

More information on the Project can be found at:

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Bahamas News

World Sight Day: Love Your Eyes



Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  14 October, 2021.  In the Caribbean, the leading causes of blindness are glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy (a complication of diabetes).  According to the Vision Atlas, 6.2 million persons in the Caribbean were reported to have vision loss, with an estimated 260,000 persons reported to be blind in 2020.

Information gathered from eighteen (18) Caribbean countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago) with a population of 44 million, showed that the crude prevalence of blindness was 0.60%, and the prevalence of all vision loss was 13.20%. Many of the persons affected were females at 52%.

Global statistics reveal that for 2020, a total of 596 million persons had distance vision impairment worldwide, of this number 43 million were blind.  Projections for 2050, indicate that an estimated 885 million persons may be affected by distance vision impairment with 61 million expected to experience  blindness.

CARPHA’s vision for the Caribbean is a region where the health and wellness of the people are promoted and protected from disease, injury and disability, thereby enabling human development in keeping with the belief that the health of the Region is the wealth of the Region.

Although there are no projects that directly address vision impairment, CARPHA in collaboration with its public health partners is implementing initiatives to address risk factors such as unhealthy diets, use of harmful substances and poor physical activities. This in turn, will help reduce the risk of disability due to complications associated with poor blood sugar and blood pressure management.

Efforts to improve the standards of care for diabetes through the implementation of the CARPHA Guidelines on the Management of Diabetes in Primary Care in the Caribbean, and training of health care workers from the CARPHA Member States will also contribute to the prevention of vision impairment and blindness due to diabetes.

Access to eye care services can reduce visual impairment.  CARPHA urges Member States to strengthen health systems to improve eye health services with emphasis on reaching the vulnerable and those most in need.  Governments should commit to integrating eye care into the universal health care system.

World Sight Day is celebrated annually on the second Thursday in October.  The focus of the day is to bring awareness to blindness and vision impairment as a major public health issue and blindness prevention.

The 2021 commemoration observed on 14th October, seeks to encourage persons to think about the ‘importance of their own eye health.’

Our eyes are working hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been indoors, in front of our screens, and probably missed our eye test appointments. Now more than ever, we need to protect and prioritize our eyesight. There are simple things you can do for yourself to prevent the development of serious eye issues:

  • Take screen breaks for at least five minutes every hour
  • Spend time outside.  Increased outdoor time can reduce the risk of myopia (near-sightedness)[3]
  • Get an eye test. A complete eye exam can detect eye conditions such as glaucoma before it has an effect on your sight. The earlier an eye condition is identified, the easier it is to treat.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet and engage in physical activity. These are crucial steps in maintaining a healthy weight, controlling obesity, and preventing diseases such as diabetes, all of which can impact eye health.
  • If you have diabetes, you should have your eyes checked every year

Your sight cannot be taken for granted.  It is time to LOVE YOUR EYES!

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Bahamas News

RBDF Congratulates Retired Commander Defence Force on National Honour Award 



#TheBahamas, October 13, 2021 – The Royal Bahamas Defence Force congratulates Commodore Retired Leon Livingstone Smith, who was a recipient of the 2021 National Honours Awards on October 11, 2021. 

During a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street, Commodore Smith was presented with the Order of Distinction within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, by Governor-General, the Most Honorable Sir Cornelius A. Smith. Also in attendance were his daughter, Mrs. Italia Seymour, and the Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King.

Commodore Smith was one of sixteen other deserving individuals recognized on National Heroes Day for the vast contributions they made to the development of the country. The first Bahamian Officer to be appointed as Commander Defence Force, he is the longest-serving Commodore to serve this office from 1983 to 1997.

Throughout his military career, he received numerous awards and accolades, and his career in public life spanned over forty years, and on September 19, 2014, an RBDF Legend Class Vessel bearing his name was commissioned. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force is truly grateful for the devoted services of Commodore Smith to the organization and his country.

Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King extends congratulations on his behalf of the members of his Executive Command, Officers, Senior Enlisted, and Junior Enlisted members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, to Commodore Retired Leon Smith, on his great accomplishment.


Header:  Commodore Retired Leon Smith being presented with the Order of Distinction within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, by Governor-General, the Most Honorable Sir Cornelius A. Smith on October 11, 2021, during a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street.

Insert: Commodore Retired Leon Smith along with recipients of the 2021 National Honours Awards on October 11, 2021, during a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street.

(RBDF Photos by Able Seaman Paul Rolle II)


(For further information please contact the RBDF Public Relations Department or visit our website:, follow us on FacebookTwitter and view our Youtube channel) 




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