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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

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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