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TCI Health Launches COVID Booster Shot program

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#TurksandCaicos, October 6, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos Islands launches its COVID-19 vaccine booster programme commencing on Monday 4th October 2021.  This comes following the approval by Cabinet, of the COVID-19 Booster Vaccine Strategy which was submitted by the Ministry of Health for consideration.

Members of Cabinet including the Governor, Deputy Governor, Honorable Premier, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health were in strong support of the vaccine booster strategy which will provide greater protection to those vulnerable individuals within the country who had previously been fully vaccinated more than six months ago and who are most at risk of severe effects of the disease.

The strategy is based upon the UK guidelines and focuses on priority groups who would benefit from a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. These groups are as follows;

1) Chronic non-communicable diseases clients

2) Elderly – Adults 50 years and over

3) Health care and frontline workers

4) Caregivers of the vulnerable

All persons in the groups listed above would have to have completed the two-dose series more than 6 months ago to be eligible for the booster dose of the vaccine. Eligible persons should reach out to their health care providers to schedule their booster dose.

The booster vaccine programme rolled out in the UK on 20.9.2021 and in the USA on 24.9.2021. On 9th September, Dr June Raine, Chief Executive of the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), which regulates medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion in the UK, issued the following statement; “We know that a person’s immunity may decline over time after their first vaccine course. I am pleased to confirm that the COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca can be used as safe and effective booster doses. This is an important regulatory change as it gives further options for the vaccination programme, which has saved thousands of lives so far. The regulatory decision followed a careful review of available data on safety and effectiveness of booster or supplementary vaccine doses by the MHRA and the independent Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), which advises the government.”

The TCI is currently progressing on its fifth tranche of the vaccine which was received from the UK and anticipates the receipt of additional doses of the vaccine to support the ongoing roll out of the vaccine to all eligible residents as well as the booster programme.

The vaccine is critical to the ongoing national response to the COVID19 pandemic. The vaccines are safe and can prevent severe illness requiring hospitalization. All eligible persons are encouraged to get vaccinated to continue protecting themselves, their loved ones and the wider community. All eligible persons who are unvaccinated are encouraged to take the vaccine.

 

Bahamas News

Sugar and salt tax campaigns gaining steam 

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer 

 

 

February 7, 2023 – A global battle on sugar and salt is ramping up as the United States joins The Bahamas and Barbados in creating proposals for historic sugar and salt laws.

The country’s Agricultural Department for the first time in history, proposed a cap on the amount of sugar to be allowed in school meals.

The World Health Organization has found that North America and the Caribbean have the highest rates of childhood diabetes in the world and based on the International Diabetes Federation’s Diabetes Atlas we also have the second highest prevalence of Diabetes overall for all global regions at 14 percent  or 51 million people with a projected 24 percent increase in just 22 years.

Barbados, the United States, Canada, Haiti, Mexico, Belize and St. Kitts and Nevis are all suffering from incredibly high rates of diabetes.

Barbados and The Bahamas announced sugar taxes last month; the hope is to reduce the importation and sale of sugar and salt rich foods.

Advocates across the Caribbean including Jamaica, Trinidad, and others have been campaigning for sugar taxes in their own countries with support from the public.

Now the proposed nutritional rules for the United States would set firm boundaries on how much salt and sugar can legally be added to meals, setting a new standard as most food imports for countries like The Bahamas are from the US.

The plan for the US is expected to be rolled out by 2025.

The rules, are unapologetically an attempt to cut down incidences of diabetes and other diseases fueled by unhealthy diets, according to media reports.

For now, the quantities on sugar and salt additives is an idea waiting wider consultation.

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Health

Eat Right, Live Right for Better Bones

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

February 7, 2023 – Broken bones hurt.  Ask anyone who’s had one, but did you know what you’re eating now may be setting you up for brittle and easily broken bones later in life?  Called a ‘silent disease’ Osteoporosis weakens bones and makes them prone to shattering and those affected may not know until it happens.   And for women, the risk is typically higher than in men.

It is the most common bone disease and the International Osteoporosis Foundation says worldwide, it is estimated to affect 200 million women – approximately one-tenth of women aged 60, one-fifth of women aged 70, two-fifths of women aged 80 and two-thirds of women aged 90.

The US Office of Women’s Health says women are more likely to get osteoporosis because:

  • Women usually have smaller, thinner, less dense bones than men.

  • Women often live longer than men. Bone loss happens naturally as we age.

  • Women also lose more bone mass after menopause with very low levels of the hormone estrogen. Higher estrogen levels before menopause help protect bone density.

Not only does the disease affect women badly particularly but treatment is often unavailable and not sought at all by women.  The IOF says “A survey, conducted in 11 countries, showed denial of personal risk by postmenopausal women, lack of dialogue about osteoporosis with their doctor, and restricted access to diagnosis and treatment before the first fracture result in under-diagnosis and undertreatment of the disease”

But the disease can result in fractures and breaks that cause extreme and lasting pain and mobility issues that limit the quality of life for those affected and even death.  Despite the fact that the disease mainly affects older women, avoiding osteoporosis is only something that women can do when they are younger.

Fueled by excess salt in our diets the disease thrives on unhealthy foods that attack bone health.  The  US National Institute on Aging says in order to combat it women should:

  • Eat foods that support bone health. Get enough calcium, vitamin D, and protein each day. …

  • Get active. Choose weight-bearing exercises, such as strength training, walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis, and dancing. …

  • Don’t smoke. …

  • Limit alcohol consumption.

While there are treatment options the best treatment is prevention.

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Bahamas News

New Director of PAHO Sworn In

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#Kingston, Jamaica, February 6, 2023 – Director-designate of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Jarbas Barbosa da Silva Jr., was sworn into office on Tuesday (January 31), during a ceremony in the United States (US) capital, Washington DC.

He succeeds Dr. Carissa Etienne, under whose tenure he served as Assistant Director, and will commence his five-year term on Wednesday (February 1).

Dr. Etienne, a native of Dominica, demitted office after serving two five-year terms at the helm of PAHO, beginning 2012.

Dr. Barbosa, a Brazilian, was elected by delegates of PAHO Member States that participated in the 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference in Washington, last September.

He topped the field of five candidates, who included nominees from Haiti, Mexico, Panama, and Uruguay.

Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment, and Conference Vice President, Hon. Molwyn Joseph, presided over the ceremony, which was held at the Organization of American States (OAS) headquarters.

PAHO serves as the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Americas. Consequently, Dr. Barbosa has been appointed WHO Regional Director.

In his inaugural speech, Dr. Barbosa outlined five strategic pillars that he will be focusing on during his tenure.

These, he informed, were a commitment to help PAHO Member States end the COVID-19 pandemic in the Americas with the best tools available, particularly surveillance and vaccines; spearheading the application of lessons learnt from the pandemic to address the region’s vulnerabilities and better prepare countries to face new threats as they emerge; ensure timely and equitable access to health innovations for all countries; build resilient national health systems based on renewed and strengthened primary healthcare, and strengthening PAHO’s capacity to support Member States.

Dr. Barbosa expressed gratitude to Dr. Etienne, describing her as “my friend and mentor”, for allowing him to serve as her Assistant Director.   He noted that despite their coming from “countries that seem so different”, he was “always amazed at how similar our perspectives and approaches are”, adding that “I believe this is because, at heart, we are both guided by our commitment”.

Dr. Barbosa said he was “proud and excited” to be leading PAHO, pointing out that he was grateful to the Member States reposing confidence in him.

“I commit to serving PAHO to the best of my ability, guided by the knowledge and experience I have accumulated during my years working in public health,” he said.

Dr. Etienne, in her remarks, described Dr. Barbosa as an exceptional technical and scientific leader, with strong competencies in epidemiology, medicine, and public health.

She noted that these attributes were “substantially and solidly” displayed in his contributions to his country, PAHO, WHO and the global health community.

The outgoing Director said her successor has “excellent listening skills, a characteristic that is so critical for effective leadership”.

“As I demit this office and hand the steering wheel over to my esteemed friend and colleague [Dr. Barbosa], I am confident that the future of the organisation will be in good hands,” she stated.

This, Dr. Etienne added, “as you will bring to your new role, exceptional expertise [and] astute policymaking skills, together with pragmatism and wisdom drawn from your many years of experience gained in your home country, Brazil, as well as internationally”.

She also expressed gratitude to the Member States for affording her the “honour and privilege” to serve as PAHO Director and for their active support throughout the past 10 years of her tenure.

“I must [also] convey my sincerest thanks and appreciation to all PAHO personnel, past and present, for their unstinting dedication and persistent commitment to the mission of this organisation. Thanks also to the many donors and collaborators who believed in our mission – the Mission of PAHO – and stood by us,” Dr. Etienne said.

Several prominent local, regional, and global figures delivered congratulatory messages to Dr. Barbosa on his appointment.

Among them were Brazil’s newly elected President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Minister of Health, Hon. Nísia Trinidade Lima; United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra; WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; OAS Secretary General, Luia Almargo and PAHO Directors Emeritus – Carlyle de Macedo, Sir George Alleyene, and Mirta Roses.

 

Contact: Douglas McIntosh

Release: JIS

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