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Ministry of Health expands community COVID-19 screening in partnership with Private Health Care Clinics 

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#TurksandCaicos, October 6, 2021 – The Ministry of Health and Human Services is pleased to inform the general public that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed with all local Private Health Care Clinics to provide free community screening for COVID-19 in their clinics using lateral flow devices (rapid antigen tests). This initiative is to increase accessibility to testing in the TCI for COVID-19 in order to gain a better understanding of COVID-19 in the community and ultimately inform public health decisions. The MOH has provided lateral flow devices for use in the private sector and will continue to support this activity on an ongoing basis. Please note that these results will not be issued for travel purposes as this initiative is for screening purposes only.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the TCI continues to decline, however, in order to build on this progress, early detection of cases is needed to prevent disease spread, coupled with the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination campaign. As the number of visitors to the Islands continue to increase, we must remain vigilant for any shift in the TCI’s COVID-19 position.
The general public is encouraged to contact their health care provider for routine screening of COVID-19 and/or access community testing by the Primary Health Care Department which is available at no cost on a scheduled basis throughout the islands.
The public is reminded of the COVID-19 Health Protocols:
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • Maintain social distancing of 6 feet between persons
  • Wear face coverings in public settings (covering both your nose and mouth)
  • Avoid mass gatherings or crowds
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or use disposable tissues
  • Comply with public health measures
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 which include; cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, fever, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell-please stay home and contact the Health Hotlines on 232 9444 or 333 0911
  • Do not visit health care facilities if you have symptoms or signs of COVID-19, call the Health Hotlines for guidance unless your symptoms are severe.
  • If you are under quarantine by the Public Health Team, please remain at home and comply with the guidance provided to you.
  • If you are contacted by the Public Health Team as a part of contact tracing activities, please provide all of the information requested to assist them in their investigations
  • Get tested on a regular basis so that you can know your status. Free testing is available across the islands. The schedule is published by the MOH on a monthly basis.
  • Stay informed with the latest information from the Ministry of Health by visiting our website on https://www.gov.tc/moh/coronavirus/
Consult with your healthcare provider regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and register online;

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Bahamas News

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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Bahamas News

Thirteen new BREAST CANCER patients for TCI in 2021; over 2% are males

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#TurksandCaicos, October 8, 2021 – The National Cancer Society needs our support and they need it now.  For two consecutive years, due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the major fundraising events held to support its work have had to be cancelled due to mass gathering restrictions and other public health precautions.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Cancer Society had to cancel our usual fundraising events from last year up to now. As a Non-Profit Organization, we are totally dependent on funding from our various scheduled events throughout the year and rely on the goodwill and generosity of private corporations, businesses, financially abled persons and the general public to keep us afloat,” said Veronica Rigby, President of the National Cancer Society in her Breast Cancer Awareness Month message.

The NCS, during this 2021 Breast Cancer Awareness month is appealing to residents for a monetary donation to keep their mission on track.

“With patients’ numbers going up each year we are truly grateful for the support we get. We hope that those who are able to help, can donate to the NCS so that we can continue to assist persons who need us most. Thank you to ALL who continuously support us and our mission.”

President Veronica Rigby reminded that one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime; men can also develop breast cancer, although this is rare but not for these islands.

“Currently in the TCI, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer.  Statistics show that from January to December 2020, the total number of registered breast cancer cases in the country was 127.  Total deaths recorded in 2020 were two.”

Statistics also show that from January to September 2021 the total number of registered breast cancer cases rose to 140 patients, an increase of 13 cases.”

The National Cancer Society President explained, this number includes “male and female; there are 137 female patients and 3 male patients.”

“We know that hearing the words “you have cancer” can be terrifying and frightening. Just know that you can reach out to us and along with your family, we will offer you the support and inspiration you will need to help you get through your cancer journey.

For 17 years, the NCS has been assisting cancer patients, their families and our survivors with financial, spiritual, practical, physical and emotional support through our free cancer services. We support individuals with breast cancer and every other type of cancer, from diagnosis to survivorship.”

So far this year, one breast cancer patient has died.

“October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is a worldwide annual campaign to increase awareness and to promote regular screening and early detection of breast cancer. Early detection includes doing monthly breast self-exams and scheduling regular breast mammograms.

The National Cancer Society theme for this years’ Breast Cancer Awareness Month is “Your Fight Is Our Fight.”

The Turks and Caicos Islands National Cancer Society is a non-profit organization.

 

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Bahamas News

Warning Issued by Ministry of Health on Bayer Consumer Health manufactured Lotrimin sprays

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#TurksandCaicos, October 8, 2021 – The Ministry of Health and Human Services (MoHHS), in response to an U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory, is advising all local healthcare facilities, other local suppliers and the general public to discontinue the sale and/or use of specific Lotrimin® AF and Tinactin® antifungal spray products manufactured by Bayer Consumer Health.

Lotrimin® AF and Tinactin® are used to treat fungal infections that cause tinea pedis, the skin condition known as athlete’s foot.

The advisory results from a voluntary recall due to the presence of benzene (human carcinogen) – a substance that could potentially cause cancer depending on the level and extent of exposure – in these products. The impacted products are:

Product Description:

  • Lotrimin Spray® AF and Tinactin Spray®
  • Lotrimin® Anti-Fungal (AF) Athlete’s Foot Powder Spray
  • Lotrimin® Anti-Fungal Jock Itch (AFJI) Athlete’s Foot Powder Spray
  • Lotrimin® Anti-Fungal (AF) Athlete’s Foot Deodorant Powder Spray
  • Lotrimin® AF Athlete’s Foot Liquid Spray
  • Lotrimin® AF Athlete’s Foot Daily Prevention Deodorant Powder Spray
  • Tinactin® Jock Itch (JI) Powder Spray
  • Tinactin® Athlete’s Foot Deodorant Powder Spray
  • Tinactin® Athlete’s Foot Powder Spray
  • Tinactin® Athlete’s Foot Liquid Spray

 

Based on the recall, benzene is not an ingredient in any of the spray products.

The MoHHS, therefore, implores all local healthcare facilities and other local suppliers to:

  • Stop supplying the brands listed above immediately.
  • Notify your overseas suppliers.
  • Quarantine all remaining stock(s) of the identified brands for possible disposal by the Environmental Health Department.

Additionally, the MoHHS wishes to implore consumers to stop using the affected products and contact their respective local suppliers. Consumers may contact the Environmental Health Department at 338-2142 for more information on how best to dispose of these spray products. In addition, consumers should contact their physician or healthcare provider if they have any questions, concerns or have experienced any problems related to the use of these spray products.

Consumers/Patients should also be advised to report any side effects via the MoHHS’ Adverse Drug Reaction form found at https://gov.tc/docs/ADR.pdf.

The MoHHS’ top priority is to ensure public health safety and will therefore continue to monitor this situation as investigations continue.

For further information, please contact the MoHASHS at 338-3072.

 

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