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PAHO warns that only one in four people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in LAC

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Washington, D.C. September 1, 2021 (PAHO) Pan American Health Organization Director Carissa F. Etienne warned that 75% of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean has yet to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and reported that PAHO is accelerating its drive to expand vaccine access throughout the region.

“Three fourths of people in Latin America and the Caribbean have not been fully immunized,” Dr. Etienne said during her weekly media briefing. “More than a third of countries in our region have yet to vaccinate 20% of their populations. And in some places, coverage is much lower.”

“Vaccination rates remain in the teens in several Caribbean and South American countries and coverage is still in the single digits in Central American nations like Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua,” she continued.

In Haiti and Venezuela, fragile health systems and political challenges have further delayed immunizations. “Unfortunately, countries with high coverage are the exception in our Region,” she emphasized.

Dr. Etienne said that in total, 540 million COVID-19 vaccine doses must be delivered to ensure that all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean can cover at least 60% of their populations. “So we must expand vaccine access in our region, especially in the places that are lagging,” she said.

In response to the shortage, PAHO has launched a fresh drive for donations. “We are working to draw the attention of developed countries to the urgent need to donate vaccines to Latin America and the Caribbean,” Dr. Etienne said.

In addition, PAHO is using its Revolving Fund to procure vaccines for member states. Already PAHO has received requests from 24 countries for COVID-19 vaccines, which will be available in the final quarter of this year and in 2022.

“We are also thinking ahead and making plans to significantly improve regional vaccine manufacturing capacity,” Dr. Etienne said. “Just last week, we launched a new platform that convenes partners around a shared vision of boosting state-of-the-art vaccine production in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

The first initiative under the platform is to facilitate the transfer to the region of the mRNA vaccine technology used in highly effective COVID-19 vaccines.  PAHO has received 32 proposals from private and public companies that want to participate in the endeavor.

Dr. Etienne urged countries to prioritize the most vulnerable for vaccination, such as the elderly, health workers and those living with pre-existing conditions. Countries should make sure that logistics systems can absorb vaccine doses and cold chains can keep them cool and that health systems are ready to deliver doses fast once they arrive.

Epidemiological situation

While vaccination rates are low in Latin America and the Caribbean, many countries are experiencing a rapid rise in COVID-19 infection.

In the Caribbean, Saint Lucia and Puerto Rico are reporting high rates of new infections, while Jamaica is experiencing its highest-ever COVID deaths.

“Outbreaks are accelerating in multiple Central American countries, especially Costa Rica and Belize,” Dr. Etienne said. “In South America, infections are generally declining, with a few exceptions: in Venezuela cases are plateauing, and in Suriname, transmission has increased for four consecutive weeks.”

In total, over 1.6 million new COVID-19 cases and just under 22,000 deaths were reported in the Americas in the past week.

Crisis in Haiti

Turning to the continuing crisis in Haiti, where an earthquake struck on Aug. 14, Dr. Etienne reported that most hospitals are overwhelmed, and many health facilities have been damaged.

“We have injured people in remote communes who are still without medical attention because they can’t reach health centers or hospitals,” she said.

PAHO has deployed 27 tons of medicines as well as several specialists to support field coordination, epidemiological surveillance, health cluster coordination, emergency projects, logistics, and EMT coordination. PAHO is also working closely with the Ministry of Public Health and Population to help coordinate international aid.

“We need more medical personnel, medicines, and medical supplies such as anesthetic drugs and orthopedic supplies for the injured,” she said. “Another need is psychosocial support for healthcare personnel and the people affected by this earthquake.”

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Bahamas News

Over 68,000 STAYED HOME in Bahamas Elections; We have BEST and WORST for Voter Participation

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#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – The just-concluded General Election in Bahamas has presented a new shift in governance.  The former ruling part, Free National Movement, lost nearly all the electoral seats it secured in the 2017 general elections.  However, this seems a swap of the Progressive Liberal party’s score in the 2017 general elections in which the former ruling party (FNM) won nearly all the parliamentary seats.

68,000 STAYED AWAY

While the FNM secured 35 out of 39 seats in the 2017 ballot, leaving only four slots for the Opposition, the 2021 elections presented “new day” with the Opposition clinching 32 parliamentary seats, leaving the former ruling party FNM with only seven slots.

However, the election results showed a significant drop in voter turnout compared to the 2017 election results. Out of 194,494 registered voters in The Bahamas, only 126,414 voted, translating to 65 per cent voter turnout.

PREVIOUS ELECTION HIGHER

This was different from the previous election in which 160,407 out of 181,543 registered voters cast their ballots, translating to a remarkable 88.36 per cent voter turnout.

Being the first election in the island nation since the Covid-19 struck the Caribbean; the dismal voter turnout could be attributed to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in The Bahamas and the current countermeasures taken by individuals to avoid contracting the deadly virus.

It could also be voter apathy.

BEST IN SHOW

Despite coronavirus prevalence in the country, North Andros & Berry Islands, Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and Mangrove Cay & South Andros constituencies recorded an impressive voter turnout of 77.99 per cent, 76.11 per cent and 73.06 per cent respectively.

North Andros & Berry Islands had 2,126 out of 2,569 registered voters cast their ballots, followed by 1,255 out of 1,622 in Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and 1,706 out of 2,164 registered voters in Mangrove Cay & South Andros.

VERY LOW SHOW

The bottom three constituencies in terms of voter turnout include Bamboo Town, which had 3,436 out of 5,838 (58.63 per cent) registered voters cast their ballot, followed by Garden Hills with 3,033 out of 5,287 (57.09 per cent), and   Central & South Abaco falling at the bottom of the list with 1,844 out of 3,271 (55.96 per cent).

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BAHAMAS: Nine new Cabinet ministers sworn-in

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#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis today introduced the first set of new Cabinet ministers with portfolios covering the Attorney General, Foreign Affairs, Education, Works and Public Utilities, Health and Wellness, Government Affairs, Agriculture, National Security and Legal Affairs.

The nine ministers were sworn-in on Monday 20 September 2021 by Governor-General the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith during ceremonies held at the Baha Mar Convention Center.

“They are the initial members of a Cabinet which will reflect the breadth and depth of the competencies and characteristics of our team: experience combined with innovation; expertise combined with a willingness to see things anew; integrity and a strong sense of purpose,” said Prime Minister Davis.

“They are receiving these appointments because of their determination to get things done.”

Among the new Ministers sworn-in on Monday were:

  • Senator the Hon. L. Ryan Pinder, Attorney General;
  • Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Public Service;
  • Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education, and Technical and Vocational Training;
  • Hon. Alfred Sears, Minister of Works and Utilities;
  • Dr. Hon. Michael Darville, Minister of Health and Wellness;
  • Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis, Minister of Government Affairs and Leader of Government Business in the Senate;
  • Hon. Clay Sweeting, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs;
  • Hon. Wayne Munroe, Minister of National Security; and
  • Hon. Jomo Campbell, Minister of State for Legal Affairs.

“I am confident that these first-appointed members of our Cabinet team are ready to deliver on the promise of a New Day for our Bahamas,” said the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Davis pledged to move with urgency to address the economic and health crises that are faced by The Bahamas.

Many thousands of Bahamians are out of work, people are losing too many loved ones to the COVID-19 virus and Bahamian schoolchildren are falling behind, said Prime Minister Davis.

“I want to be clear: we are not here to tinker at the edges of these problems,” said the Prime Minister.

“We are here to meet them head on.”

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Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis pledges to govern in the interests of all Bahamians

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#TheBahamas, September 19, 2021 – During his ceremonial swearing-in today as the nation’s fifth Prime Minister, Hon. Philip Davis pledged to govern in the interests of all Bahamians and to consult widely with the Bahamian people.

The best way to make progress as a nation is to bring people together, said Prime Minister Davis, who was presented with his instruments of Office in ceremonies held at the Baha Mar Convention Centre, on Saturday 18 September 2021.

Prime Minister Davis was officially sworn in as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas on Friday 17 September 2021 at the Office of the Governor General.

“We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly, so that it’s not one rule for one set of people, and another for another set of people,” said the Prime Minister.

“There is much work to be done; but I know that by working together we can succeed and build the kind of prosperous, independent Bahamas that our founding fathers dreamed for us.”

Prime Minister Davis said that while there are big challenges ahead for The Bahamas, his team has the right vision and policies to take the country forward.

The Prime Minister said the new administration is coming into office at a time when the Bahamian people are hurting as never before.

The country faces many crises due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an economy in decline and deeply concerning challenges in education, said Prime Minister Davis.

If everyone works together towards a common purpose, in the common interest and for the common good, great things are possible for The Bahamas and its people, said the Prime Minister.

But no government can do great things on its own, Prime Minister Davis added.

“I am sure that my government can only succeed if we partner with the Bahamian people,” said the Prime Minister.
“We are going to listen, we are going to consult widely and we are going to bring people together.”

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18 September 2021
Office of the Prime Minister
Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Contact: opmcommunications@bahamas.gov.bs
Website: opm.gov.bs

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