#TheBahamas, October 1, 2021 – Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obadiah H. Wilchcombe, said the Davis Administration will move swiftly to reduce the hurt and suffering in-country by declaring war on poverty. The Department of Social Services and the Urban Renewal Commission will play key roles in that effort.
“Our job is to reduce the suffering and the hurt in our country by declaring war on poverty,” Minister Wilchcombe said Wednesday. “We are serious about that. I don’t like to see people hurting; that bothers me tremendously and so actions speak louder than words.
“The bottom line here is that we have to change some things and we have to do it quickly. We don’t have three months to play with this. We have to start changing things within one month.”
Minister Wilchcombe’s comments came following a tour of the Department of Social Services’ Main Offices located on Baillou Hill Road. The Social Services Minister was accompanied by Minister of State for Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Lisa Rahming. The pair began the morning with a visit to the Urban Renewal Commission, Centreville, that was followed by a tour of the Fox Hill Community Support Services Centre, Department of Social Services, and then the DOSS Head Offices.
Minister Wilchcombe said that in addition to the war on poverty, the Administration’s thrust – through the Ministry and its various Departments — will also focus on addressing areas such as homelessness, housing, food security, and improving the urban environment by making the Urban Renewal Programme “more expansive.”
“If you take a look globally at what Urban Renewal has done; If you take a look at New York, it transformed Harlem; Atlanta, Atlanta City; Houston, downtown Houston, Shanghai, all urban renewal — that’s what urban renewal is supposed to do and when you look at what is wrong with the inner city, what is wrong with our urban areas, then we have some work to do.”
Minister Wilchcombe said that work includes establishing more green spaces, removing buildings that ought to have been removed, and getting rid of all derelict vehicles. “We are going to make the areas much cleaner, make the environment better.”
The Social Services Minister said the plan also calls for the introduction of additional programmes targeting more young people.
“Yes, we have the bands, but I want to see young children going to dance lessons after school, I want to see them going to sporting events, I want to see young children participating in arts and culture, I want to see them being more occupied. Let’s keep their minds occupied so that they can move away from negativity. My colleague (State Minister Rahming) is going to head that particular aspect of the ministry.”
Minister Wilchcombe said the visit to the Fox Hill Community Support Centre allowed officials to get a “first-hand view” of the process at the community support centres. He said he came away “deeply concerned.”
“One of the things I am deeply concerned about is to see the Bahamian people, mainly the elderly, sitting on the outside waiting for services. That is not appropriate. That is unacceptable as far as I am concerned, and I wanted to know why because we introduced the credit card system and that system had much success. We want to know why it is taking so long now for the needy to get the credit card on the one hand, and on the other hand, why it has been stopped in some areas.
“I wanted to see the lines, it is disheartening, and it brings tears to your eyes just to see some of these people who are simply, for the most part, looking for a meal. People believe that we are the ones who are supposed to be providing a service. They are not here looking for a favour. There is a commitment by the state. We have to take better care of our people and that’s what I wanted to see for myself.”
Minister Wilchcombe said he has mandated social services officials to begin compiling statistics on the level of homelessness and poverty in-country as a part of the process towards addressing both matters.
“We don’t have any stats and that’s disturbing. We can’t tell you the level of poverty in the country and there is something wrong with that picture and so I have asked for us to begin to find out the stats, to determine exactly the reality because how do you make programmes if you have no information? Information is power, information gives you what is required to make the decisions that must be made. We don’t have that information, but in spite of that, you have the evidence that we do have problems. And because of that we must move with haste,” Minister Wilchcombe added.
By Matt Maura
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: 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
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)
- 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!
RBDF Congratulates Retired Commander Defence Force on National Honour Award
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)
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