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Saint Lucia’s Ministry of Health wins WHO World No-Tobacco Day Award

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SAINT LUCIA RECEIVED RECOGNITION FOR ACHIEVING KEY ADVANCES IN TOBACCO CONTROL EFFORTS

#SaintLucia, June 9, 2021 – Saint Lucia’s Ministry of Health and Wellness has won a 2021 World No-Tobacco Day Award in the Americas from the World Health Organization (WHO). The Ministry of Health, one of six winners of the award in the Americas, received the recognition for achieving key advances in tobacco control efforts.

“The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) extends its congratulations to the government of Saint Lucia for this meritorious achievement,” said Dr. Yitades Gebre, PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries (ECC). “Saint Lucia has emerged as one of the most outstanding contributors and leaders in the implementation of tobacco control among the ECC.”

The Ministry of Health was instrumental in the June 2020 adoption of the Public Health (Smoking Control) Regulations, which establish a smoking ban in enclosed public places and workplaces and on public transportation. The regulations apply to electronic cigarettes and prohibit the sale of tobacco products in health, sport, government, childcare, educational and religious facilities. “No-smoking” signs also will be displayed prominently at the entrances of the facilities and in at least one other prominent place on the premises.

With the adoption of its quit-tobacco regulations, Saint Lucia became the eighth country in the Caribbean and the 22nd in the Americas to adopt regulation in keeping with Article 8 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which asserts that people should be protected against tobacco smoke in indoor public places, indoor workplaces, and public transportation.

The tobacco regulations were developed by the Ministry of Health and the Attorney General’s Chambers in collaboration with the Tobacco Control Working Group, a multisectoral committee that includes NGOs and public agencies. PAHO supported development of the regulations. With support from the Bloomberg Initiative to reduce Tobacco Use grants programme, the government is also working on a comprehensive tobacco policy that would lead to development of tobacco control legislation.

Saint Lucia’s government in strengthening further its tobacco control efforts recently has established a Tobacco Cessation Program, by training primary care providers in how to help people quit smoking. Saint Lucia signed onto the FCTC in February 2004.

“The recognition of Saint Lucia by WHO for the accomplishments in tobacco control is of great significance to the Ministry of Health and Wellness. The implementation of comprehensive tobacco policies remain an effective pillar in the reduction of tobacco use.  Tobacco use is one of the main causes of preventable disease, disability and premature death and a risk factor contributing to chronic non-communicable diseases.  I express gratitude to WHO for such an esteemed award as we remain committed to the health improvements of all Saint Lucians,” said Dr. Sharon Belmar-George, Chief Medical Officer, Saint Lucia.

The other award winners in the Americas are Costa Rica’s mSalud interinstitutional Team, comprised of members of three government agencies; Paraguay’s Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare, the Uruguayan National Resource Fund, the California cities of Beverly Hills and Manhattan Beach, and Brazilian oncologist Dr. Tania Cavalcante.

The six Americas winners are among many winners globally whose tobacco control efforts are recognized by the WHO on World No Tobacco Day, which is celebrated May 31. World No-Tobacco Day was created by WHO Member States in 1987 to raise awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke and to discourage use of tobacco in any form. Tobacco kills more than 8 million people globally each year.

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Cayman gets its second ‘Sir’; former Premier Alden McLaughlin knighted on Jan 1

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Cayman, January 20, 2022 – Former Premier of Cayman Alden McLaughlin was knighted at the start of 2022; named in the Queen’s New Year Honors List. He is only the second Caymanian to have ever received a knighthood from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Vassel Johnson, received the honour in 1994; he was Cayman’s first Financial Secretary; he died in November 2008 at the age of 86.

Current Governor, Martyn Roper extended congratulations saying, “This is an outstanding personal achievement for former Premier McLaughlin, one of the most important and impactful political leaders in Cayman over the last 21 years. It is a significant moment for our islands. This historic award is only the second ever Knighthood to a Caymanian since the first in the 1990s. It is a strong signal of the respect in which Cayman is held and a visible demonstration of the progress Cayman has made as a vibrant democracy with strong good governance foundations.”

Sir McLaughlin, who is also now a QC attorney, served two terms as premier and had a career in politics that spanned 21 years. McLaughlin is known for his role in modernizing Cayman’s constitution.

Current premier G. Wayne Panton described the occasion as a unifying moment for the country saying, This is a day of celebration and great pride for all Caymanians as a son of our soil has been bestowed one of the highest honour.  Today marks a new and most unique storyline in the history of the Cayman Islands.  In considering the rarity and magnitude of this occasion, this is certainly a unifying moment for our community.”

Sir Alden McLaughlin, 60, was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George on January 1, 2022.

 

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Caribbean News

Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources  

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.

Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.

Environmental Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources for TCI, Amy Avenant, says the Turks and Caicos Islands has not seen the worst of the overgrowth.

“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.

“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”

Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.

Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.

She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.

There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.

Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.

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