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CARPHA presents at Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) World Food Safety Day 2021

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June 10, 2021 – The Caribbean region joins with the global community in celebrating World Food Safety Day (WFSD). As of 2018, WFSD is celebrated each year on 7 June, and is aimed at drawing attention and inspiring action, at all levels and from all sectors, to prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks.

By doing this, we all share a responsibility in contributing to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, access to regional and international markets, tourism, and sustainable development.

This year’s theme, “Safe food today for a healthy tomorrow”, highlights the need of sustainable production systems to ensure the health of people, the planet, and the economy in the long-term. It is important to recognize that the health of people, animals and the environment is interconnected, and that any safety adverse event may have a global impact on public health, trade and economy. This can pose rather detrimental to the sustainable development of Caribbean States. CARPHA acknowledges this and works with our Member States to develop an integrative approach to the surveillance of foodborne illness.

This multi-sectoral, “One Health” approach requires engagement and collaboration from many parties. Some of these include agriculture, environmental management, animal health, abattoirs, pharmaceutical industry, health and laboratory diagnostics. A collaborative approach is required to address good food production and handling practices, climate change and food safety and traceability to outbreaks and hazards.

The Caribbean continues to encounter multiple threats to food security and safety. Some of these threats include climate change, emerging diseases, and issues in border control and security. Unemployment and poverty, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, result in food insecurity and limits people’s access to safer, healthier food options.

On 3rd June 2021, Dr. Lisa Indar, CARPHA Director for Surveillance Disease Prevention and Control (SDPC), presented at World Food Safety Day for Latin America and the Caribbean.

This virtual meeting was hosted by multiple regional organisations in food safety and security, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, Pan American Health Organization, Pan American Center for Foot-and-Mouth Disease and Veterinary Public Health, and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture. 

Dr. Indar stressed that food must be healthy, safe, available, and affordable to all in our Region. She lamented those foodborne diseases are preventable, yet the burden of illness remains high for the Region. Many outbreaks are underreported, and the burden of illness falls heavily on infants, elderly persons, pregnant women, the immunocompromised and persons experiencing poverty.

In the Caribbean, 1 in 49 people fall ill from a foodborne disease. At mass gatherings, such as Carnivals and at family events for the holidays, 1 in 11 people fall ill. Caribbean countries have been estimated to spend 21 million USD annually, in managing and addressing foodborne diseases.

The Caribbean’s population is exposed to multiple disease-causing agents, which are bacterial, parasitic, and viral in origin. Norovirus, Campylobacter, Giardia and Salmonella spp. contribute to the greatest burden of illness and hospitalizations. Diseases from seafood, namely vibriosis and ciguatera toxicosis are health concerns faced by some Caribbean States. The ecology of these mentioned disease agents is also influenced by climate change. Increasing air and water surface temperatures and worsening floods and storms will increase the risk of exposure to many persons, pets and food-producing animals.

Foodborne diseases are a priority for the Caribbean’s travel and tourism sector. Globally, the Caribbean continues to stand as the premier visitor destination for tourists. The tourism and travel sector contribute 40-60% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for some of our countries. Ensuring a healthier, safer destination, is critical for many Caribbean States, as we market ourselves as a safe option for travel, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Disease outbreaks at hotels and on cruise ships often lead to reputational damage and a loss in income to the involved industry and the country.

To effectively address these challenges, and to build resilience for the tourism sector, CARPHA has implemented an innovative, near real-time surveillance system called the Tourism and Health Information System (THiS). This surveillance system provides an early-warning and mitigation of foodborne outbreaks at Caribbean hotels and stay-in accommodations. To date, CARPHA has trained over 600 facilities in the Region in the use of THiS.

In collaboration with our regional stakeholders, CARPHA has trained and built capacity in multiple Member States in sampling, testing, disease investigation and risk communication. Our Member States continue to benefit from an integrated, One Health approach to preventing and managing foodborne disease outbreaks. Graduates of the CARPHA Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP) have been instrumental in investigating foodborne outbreaks in countries.  Our Environmental Health and Sustainable Development (EHSD) department conducts testing on food and environmental samples. The Caribbean Medical Microbiology Laboratory (CMML) is equipped to conduct molecular testing and isolation for isolated pathogens and stool samples.

CARPHA will continue to support and build capacity for the implementation of multisectoral, integrative surveillance for foodborne diseases. We are currently scaling up our surveillance and response measures to foodborne illness.   CARPHA aims to work with its Member States in food safety and security to ensure a safe today, for a healthy tomorrow. 

Bahamas News

Statement on Road Traffic Department 

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#TheBahamas, September 26, 2022 – As an integral agency under the Ministry of Transport and Housing, the Road Traffic Department is responsible for the collection of revenue from vehicle licensing and inspection fees.

On an annual basis, the revenue from the Road Traffic Department exceeds 60 million dollars.

This revenue is critical in supporting the programmes and initiatives of the Government of The Bahamas and covers the operating costs of the Road Traffic Department.

The revenue must be protected.

To ensure the integrity of revenue collected, numerous processes and procedures have been implemented. Additionally, several audits have been undertaken to ensure that employees act in accordance with the established protocols of the Department.

The Ministry is aware of allegations and discord in the public domain between two employees at the Road Traffic Department.

While it is not the policy of the Government of The Bahamas to publicly comment on internal staff matters, the Ministry takes grave exception to personal allegations against employees being made public while the allegations remain under investigation by independent parties.

Public Officers are reminded of the provisions of General Orders which disallows public statements on any matter.

The Ministry continues to foster and encourage a harmonious and respectful working environment at the Road Traffic Department and all agencies under its remit.

The Ministry remains strongly committed to strengthening the audit and compliance oversight of the Road Traffic Department and will not be deterred its efforts to safeguard the Government’s revenue stream.

 

September 26th, 2022 

Ministry of Transport & Housing

Commonwealth of The Bahamas

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NEMA Director orders activation of shelters in GB, Bimini

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NASSAU, The Bahamas – Director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Captain Stephen Russell, Wednesday, ordered the activation of shelters in Grand Bahama and Bimini as a precautionary measure against potential impacts from Tropical Storm-Force conditions associated with Hurricane Ian.

 Six shelters were activated in Grand Bahama (two in Freeport, two in Eight-Mile Rock, and one each in Pinedale, Seagrape and Holmes’ Rock) and one in Bimini (Gateway in Bailey Town) at 10am. Captain Russell also announced that Floodwater Rescue Teams have been pre-positioned in West End and Alice Town as yet another precautionary measure.

 The National Emergency Management Agency’s National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) remained on Partial Activation Wednesday and will remain Activated throughout the response phase. Teams from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, The Bahamas Department of Meteorology, the Department of Social Services, and the Department of Local Government, have been in communication with Island Administrators, Local Government officials and Disaster Consultative Committees in the north-western Bahamas.

 During Partial Activation, certain NEOC Team Members (known as Emergency Support Functions) are activated to monitor certain risks and/or hazards in areas that could be impacted by weather conditions associated with the passage of a storm, and as a means of communicating with/supporting disaster managers and planners and disaster consultative committees on the ground in those areas.

 The NEOC is responsible for executing emergency management and ensuring the continuity of operations for the entire country.

 Meanwhile, a Tropical Storm Warning remained in effect for the north-western Bahamas as at 12noon Wednesday with residents of Grand Bahama and the Biminis being advised to prepare for the possibility of sustained Tropical Storm-Force winds tonight through Thursday. Residents in the remainder of the northwest Bahamas, including Abaco, the Berry Islands, North Andros, New Providence and Eleuthera, could experience winds gusting to gale-force during this period.

 (A Tropical Storm Warning means that Tropical Storm conditions could be experienced in the mentioned islands within 36 hours.) 

 Forecasters at The Bahamas Department of Meteorology said rainbands associated with Hurricane Ian, will continue to affect the islands of the northwest Bahamas today and Thursday. Residents in these islands are asked to exercise extreme caution as the rainbands will bring severe thunderstorms, gusty winds and possible tornadic activity.

 Total rainfall amounts of 4 to 6 inches are expected with isolated amounts of up to 8 inches through Friday. As a result, severe, localized flooding is possible in low-lying and flood-prone areas.

Residents of low-lying, flood-prone areas of the north-western Bahamas, are asked to take special precautions during any heavy and/or prolonged rainfall event, and to exercise extreme caution in the event there is flooding. One such precautionary measure is to avoid driving in or through floodwater, where possible, or playing in floodwater (children) as floodwater can contain numerous hidden hazards. These include:

  • Downed power lines.
  • Sewage and other contaminants.
  • Large Holes.
  • Sharp objects that can cause injury and lead to infections.
  • Objects such as lumber, vehicles, debris.
  • Carcasses of dead animals, in addition to rodents and snakes.

Exposure to contaminated floodwater can result in:

  • Wound infections.
  • Skin rash.
  • Gastrointestinal illnesses.
  • Tetanus (Lock-jaw).

If you do come into contact with floodwater, you are advised to:

  • Wash the area with soap and clean water as soon as possible. If you do not have soap or water, use alcohol-based wipes or sanitizers.
  • Wash clothes contaminated with floodwater or sewage water in hot water and detergent before re-using them.

If you must enter floodwater, protect yourselves by wearing rubber boots, rubber gloves and goggles. The same goes for Standing Water.

The National Emergency Management Agency reminds residents to pay close attention to the Alerts, NEWS ITEMS, Public Forecasts, Severe Weather Warnings and/or Special Weather Statements issued by The Bahamas Department of Meteorology.

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Glass Window Bridge envisioned as a symbol of resilience and sustainability says Works and Utilities Minister

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By KATHRYN CAMPBELL

Bahamas Information Services

 

#ELEUTHERA, The Bahamas, September 27, 2022 –  A new bridge design that incorporates opportunities for Bahamian entrepreneurs was presented at a Town Hall Meeting Thursday, September 22, 2022 at St. Patrick’s Lodge Hall, Hatchet Bay.

During the livestreamed event the Minister of Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears; the Hon. Clay Sweeting, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs; island administrators, representatives of the Ministry of Works, Town Planning Board, the Bridge Authority, Local Government, Lambert Knowles and other consultants, and residents of Eleuthera discussed plans for the proposed replacement of the Glass Window Bridge (GWB) in North Eleuthera.

Minister Sears termed the meeting very “successful” consultation and attendance by local stakeholders and virtual participants.

He said Mr. Knowles has assembled a world-class team of bridge designers who have put together a design that will turn the GWB “into a symbol of resilience, sustainability and also a place of entertainment and relaxation where Bahamian businesses can come and share in the wonderful goods of Eleuthera to the international travelling public as well as the residents in Eleuthera.

“We’re speaking now with Caribbean Development Bank with respect to funding; the design is now completed, there is also interest in PPP’s. Within the next two months we should have a funding pathway and then of course we will move on the procurement. Once the funding is in place we will announce a date.”

“It is not only a look out point, we are approaching this project as an enterprise where the people who live in Eleuthera would have the same opportunities that the people in South would have as the Disney Project would have, but it would be more significant than Disney because this project would be owned by Bahamian people — entrepreneurs, performers and culinary artists.

“Eleuthera is one of the places in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas where development is taking place very rapidly. It is one of the most unique communities in our country; it is the fifth largest economy within the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. We have some of the wealthiest industrialists with homes in Eleuthera; we also have booming Bahamian business resorts throughout Eleuthera.”

The GWD represents a place where we “can build opportunities for Bahamian businesses, Bahamian entrepreneurs to showcase the imagination of the Bahamian crafts persons, also to showcase the culinary skills as well as the extraordinary culinary dishes of Bahamian cuisine,” he said.

Although “spectacular” Minister Sears said the current one-lane bridge is “dangerous” and unable to facilitate the transport of freight from the north to the south of the island because its carrying capacity is only 12 tonnes — anything over 12 tonnes cannot be transported over the bridge.

He noted other challenges and informed that the bridge is not fulfilling the potential that it has for the development of Eleuthera.

Using a Power Point presentation, Mr. Knowles introduced the design team, technical aspects of the built design and various options considered for the new bridge.

He said the proposed bridge will be unique; a picture opportunity and a venue to host an event. It will have a park, security, rest rooms, parking, a location for food trucks to sell crafts and food; and topography with different elevation.

During the question and answer segment, Minister Sears said a decision has not yet been made regarding a bridge toll on the major undertaking.

“It is a project which multilateral bodies and private sector investors have expressed an interest in participating in the funding. It is a project that once we have the community by-in the government is committed to building a world class production at this location.” Construction is expected to take place on the proposed bridge from 2023-2026 at an estimated cost of $50-$60 million.

The GWB was built in 1990 and provides the only vehicular link between North and South Eleuthera.

 

(BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)

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