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Beyond The Columbus Fiasco–Making Good Out Of A Bad Situation

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#TheBahamas, October 13, 2021 – Who would have thought that these seemingly quiet, translucent waters that now draw millions to our shores have played an integral part in changing world history? Yes, these pristine waters of the Bahamas have seen the demise of an ancient world. They bellowed the story of the birth of the Americas and witnessed the reckless demise of the first known inhabitants of our islands.

Every year millions of awestruck visitors make their way to our islands to explore, experience, and enjoy the archipelagic waters of The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands. Not only are our waters appreciated up close, but the vantage point from space has also led some astronauts to call our turquoise waters the most beautiful in the world. Despite encountering their natural splendor, so few are aware of the extraordinary story these nameless waters tell and the delightful insights it reveals that, when truly grasped, can make our islands and the world a better place.

In his newly released book published by Inspire Publishing, and available on Amazon.com, The Lucayan Sea–Birthplace of the Americas (2nd Edition), the second of his three-part series, Commodore Tellis Bethel, head of the Security Forces Inspectorate and the former Commander of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, unfolds unique aspects of The Bahamas’ and Turks and Caicos Islands’ geography, history, and the culture of these islands’ inhabitants.

Although there is a widespread belief that Columbus discovered a “new world.” History reveals that the Italian navigator happened upon an ancient world in the Western Hemisphere that was transformed into a New World by the Old World of Europe. These historic events find their beginnings in the lap of the tranquil waters of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The indigenous inhabitants Columbus met called themselves Lukku Cairi, meaning Island People in their native tongue. Today we call them Lucayans. Interestingly enough, the chain of beautifully scattered islands forming The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands is called the Lucayan Archipelago, a reminder of the days when Spanish explorers and conquistadors roamed these islands’ waters more than 500 years ago.

“What is ironic,” the former naval officer explains, “is that Columbus spent seven years planning an expedition that took him almost 70 days to “discover” an archipelago consisting of 700 Islands, spanning  almost 700 miles.” In August 1492, Columbus set out to discover a shorter route to the wealth of the Indies by sailing west from Spain. Sadly, his expedition ignited a series of Spanish conquests and genocide that demolished the ancient world, giving rise to the New Word of the Americas. After returning to Spain, Columbus received a hero’s welcome. Centuries later, countries celebrated Columbus’ historic feat as an annual event named Columbus Day. However, Columbus’ celebrity status ended after gruesome details of the theft, murder, enslavement, and genocide of the indigenous peoples engendered by Columbus and his contemporaries came to light.

Today, many throughout the Americas and other parts of the world no longer celebrate Columbus Day. Instead, the enslaved indigenous peoples who died in the wake of European colonization of the Americas are memorialized. Memories of Columbus have since become an annual bashing affair, not to be outdone by the removal or defacing of every vestige reminiscent of the colonial eras of genocide and slavery—as in the recent case of the destruction of his statue at Government House.

Nonetheless, amid hate, anger, and vitriol emerges an idea that can make good out of a bad situation. Rather than expending time and energy on beating a dead horse, in The Lucayan Sea—Birthplace of the Americas, Commodore Bethel proposes that the waters of The Bahamas and Turks Caicos Islands be named in honor of the annihilated Lucayans, their indigenous counterparts, and the enslaved Africans who suffered a similar fate throughout the Americas.

Bethel, who has spent more than 30 years protecting the territorial waters of The Bahamas as a naval officer in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, proposes that these Islands’ waters be named the Lucayan Sea. He is a proponent of promoting this body of water as a symbol of peace such that the millions who encounter them would be inspired to do their part to make the world a better place.

 

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

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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: https://www.carpha.org/Projects/Ongoing-Projects/Strengthening-Strategic-Intelligence-and-Partnership-Approaches-To-Prevent-and-Control-NCDs-and-Strengthen-Regional-Health-Security-In-The-Caribbean

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World Sight Day: Love Your Eyes

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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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RBDF Congratulates Retired Commander Defence Force on National Honour Award 

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#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: www.rbdf.gov.bs, follow us on FacebookTwitter and view our Youtube channel) 

-rbdf- 

#GuardOurHeritage 

#MarlinSpike 

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