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JAMAICA: Finance Minister Expresses Gratitude to Healthcare Workers

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#Kingston, December 31, 2021 – Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, has praised healthcare professionals who have been working on the frontline of the national coronavirus (COVID-19) response programme.

Dr. Clarke highlighted the work of representatives of the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ), Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA), and Jamaica Midwives Association (JMA), in particular, to whom he expressed heartfelt gratitude “for the amazing response to the pandemic that you and your members have undertaken this year.”

He was speaking during the latest Heads of Agreement signing with unions/bargaining units representing public sector workers, for the government’s 12-month four per cent salary increase for the April 2021 to March 2022 contract period.

The signing took place at the Ministry of Finance in Kingston on December 22.

Dr. Clarke said Jamaica’s health system has experienced an unprecedented crisis sparked by the pandemic which, he noted, also precipitated significant economic fallout.  He pointed out that amidst the challenges in public health, “there was no work from home [option] for nurses, doctors and midwives.”

Dr. Clarke said while many persons have had the opportunity to work from home with the pandemic’s onset, “on the contrary, the work became harder and more intense, and the risk was greater” for health professionals as “you had to be out… tending to the sick and the infirmed.

“On behalf of a grateful nation, we say thank you,” the Minister stated.

General Secretary of the Union of Clerical, Administrative and Supervisory Employees (UCASE) John Levy, who attended the signing ceremony and expressed similar sentiments, noted that the health professionals’ role “in assisting us… has been a very difficult one.

“I ask them to keep the faith and to keep going in the interest of all of us, and we will do whatever is possible… at UCASE… to assist in the process,” he stated

NAJ President, Patsy Henry pointed out that 2021 has been “a year of challenges… [and] a year of uncertainties [as] the pandemic has…created wave upon wave upon wave [of infections].”

She said throughout the period, nurses and other healthcare professionals “have had to be at the forefront” of the fight to contain COVID-19 transmission and casualties.

“Even when others were able to relax a little bit… we have still had to stand and be there. It has been a year that we hope… we will never see again,” Mrs. Henry said.

JMA President Bobby-Joe Campbell, noted that during the no-movement periods, midwives had to identify ways of attending to women in communities that were under lockdown because “sexual and reproductive health [service delivery] had to continue.”

“Our midwives in hospitals are doing much more compared to previous years… [as are] our midwives in primary care,” she pointed out.

Ms. Campbell assured that the members remain committed to “delivering services to our clients.”

The NAJ, JMA, JMDA, UCASE, Academic Staff Association of the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (ASACASE); and Jamaica Association of Education Officers (JAEO), which represent a combined 10,000 public workers, are the latest signatories to the Heads of Agreement.

They bring to 31, the number of unions/bargaining units signing on behalf of public sector workers

The total number of employees covered now stands at some 80,000 or approximately 80 per cent of the workforce.

 

Contact: Douglas McIntosh

Release: JIS

 

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Worst time to be a Woman; a Haitian crises

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By Deandrea Hamilton

Magnetic Media 

 

#TurksandCaicos, June 24, 2022 – I know many of us are frustrated by the reports of illegal vessels breaching our waters, landing on our shores, costing us in repatriation expenses and overwhelming our small states and we’re not wrong to be bent out of shape by it.  However there are many facets to this maddening issue to sound alarms and from what I’m told and because of what I have noticed, the number of women increasingly taking the risk to runaway confirms the heartbreaking truth that abuses of this vulnerable group are escalating in frequency and violence.

A teenager, pregnant jumped from a balcony in Blue Hills (TCI) in desperation to escape pursuing law enforcers; it was dark, she could have died, she was hospitalized then sent back.

Turks and Caicos Police ‘stop & search’ operations are capturing many women; women who are trying to get to a job site in the many illegal jitneys moving around the town.

Sure it is all illegal, however it remains gut wrenching that these skittish ladies would have started the day on the hustle for a little cash only to be caught, with no document affirming legal status breaking the law. They will be deported and life will change, likely for the worse.

Haiti’s instability is driving the exodus of Haitian people.  The plummeting quality of life is pushing the “irregular migrants” as they are labelled to board boats, take to the ocean in pitch black conditions, driven by a desperate home.

Some make it, some do not.

The only death recorded or reported at the TCI detention center in years was this month; it was a Haitian woman. We don’t know what went wrong. But a journey toward a better life ended with the loss of hers.

I come from a set of nations – The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands – which have ensured I have a place.  Whether that’s school or college or a job or as an entrepreneur, room was made for me and laws are in place to enable and empower me. Not only do I have bread to eat, but I get to choose the type of bread I want to eat and can share it.

I am blessed. Truly.

But for my Haitian sisters, when you see their faces and the sadness in their eyes. When the human spirit is so shattered that it creeps into the dankest of places which is utter hopelessness, we should sit up and stand up.  This should capture our attentions.

In fact we should know, that for the hundreds we do encounter, there are countless more out there, unseen and trying to survive without being fortified by a force field of love, rule of law and simple decency.  There are too many more relentlessly buffeted by exploitation and circumstances outside of their control.

I suspect, this is the absolute worst time to be a woman or girl in Haiti. Just the worst.

Whether it is the recent memorial held to remember 11 Haitian women who perished at sea in early May trying to get in, undetected to Puerto Rico or a new and emerging report on describing the sexual abuse of Haitian women working at a factory; given sickening ultimatums:  Sex for their salary; an exploitation which usually draws throngs of people to vociferous protests in more developed countries; to this news however, there is silence and little reaction that we can see.

I declare that these women are significant.  They are valued despite the trials and tribulations of their homeland.  Within this dispensation, a post Black Lives Matter world, the darker complexion of many of their skins no longer means they are disposable.

And united, it means, women wherever we are can link hearts and hands to partake in and contribute to a shared stance of solidarity.  We can do it for the voiceless anywhere we want, we are women and though muted by the many dramas and truamas unfolding in our own lives, communities and countries, we still hear these voices crying and screaming out and we will help.

Just watch and see.  Women of Haiti, help is on the way.

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Macmillan Education Caribbean hosts panel discussion with the women of STEM

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June 23, 2022 – Macmillan Education Caribbean has been holding its Summer of Science for the last two weeks, focusing on “Discovering Scientists” across the Caribbean.  Now, it announces its second exciting event in the wider campaign.

In a panel discussion hosted by Macmillan Education Caribbean, three women in the STEM industry will be invited to discuss their experiences in the field, offer advice for young women aspiring to have a career in science, and more. The panel, called Opening up science: Meet the Women in STEM will be hosted online, at 1:00pm AST on Tuesday 28th June.

The event features three fantastic panellists: Dr Claire Durant, Niva Miles, and Dr Joanne Simmons-Boyce.  Between them, they have amassed a wealth of experience at various different touchpoints of the STEM field; from authoring science textbooks and serving on examinations councils, to teaching science and practising natural products chemistry.

With Dr Claire Durant and Dr Joanne Simmons-Boyce being Barbadian scientists, and Niva Miles having authored Human and Social Biology for CSECⓇ Examinations, each of the panellists will bring a unique view on science in the Caribbean to the conversation, which will be especially useful to those watching.

The event is open to all, although young women and female educators are especially encouraged to attend. In a blog she wrote for Macmillan Education Caribbean on the importance of championing women in science, Dr Claire Durant said:

“To establish an inclusive scientist workforce, women and girls need to see themselves reflected in their teachers in the classroom as well as in the scientists who develop the technology, medicine, beauty, engineering and entertainment products that we use every day.”

Macmillan Education Caribbean is strongly encouraging schools to get involved in creative ways, by hosting ‘watch parties’ for the panel discussion inside classrooms, or by getting students and teachers to submit questions for the panellists.

In the fortnight surrounding the panel event, Macmillan Education Caribbean’s channels will be exploring Science for Life, and will be introducing the panellists in more detail, whilst also exploring the accessibility of science and spotlighting the title Human and Social Biology for CSECⓇ Examinations, which this panel was inspired by.

The Human and Social Biology for CSEC Examinations title is centred around “opening up” science, making it both accessible and engaging for learners of varying abilities. In this visually engaging series, a range of different routes to learning are explored – from animated videos to aid understanding, and project guidance for undertaking the independent School-based Assessment.

You can follow the Summer of Science across Macmillan Education Caribbean’s social media channels, visit their website for more information, or follow the hashtag #ScienceForLife to get involved with the next phase of the campaign.

Teachers and students can register for the discussion at  https://macmillanic.clickmeeting.com/opening-up-science-meet-the-women-in-stem/register.

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CARPHA Continues to Focus on Results Based Management to Achieve Results for the CARICOM Region

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, June 23, 2022 –  On June 15th and 17th, employees of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) participated in a training workshop aimed at increasing the Agency’s capacity to deliver results and to be able to assess the impact of its work.  The Strategic Planning, Results Based Management (RBM) and Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Workshop forms part of a series of activities being undertaken by Le Groupe-Conseil Baastel.  Baastel was awarded the consultancy to Institutionalise Results Based Management at the Agency, in September 2021, this consultancy will also facilitate the development of CARPHA’s Strategic Plan 2022-2025.

In her opening remarks, Dr Joy St. John, Executive Director of CARPHA stated, “While the Agency already operates within a results-oriented reality, it welcomed the opportunity for the employees to collectively, take an in-depth view of the strategic planning process.”  She added that the exercise would help to clearly show what CARPHA has achieved and what the Agency hopes to achieve in the future.  She highlighted that the training would, “help us deepen our understanding of these processes and how we can each contribute to the importance of this process.”

Head of Vector Borne Diseases, Dr Horace Cox expressed that he is optimistic that the Agency would have even greater impact moving forward and felt that the workshop was beneficial because it “teaches how we can use the data of today to guide the design and implementation of the interventions of tomorrow”.  While Dr Rian Extavour, Programme Manager of the Caribbean Regulatory System shared, “Many aspects of the session made me more aware of how we can be even more creative to find other opportunities to strengthen what we do.”

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, with the support of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), developed and implemented the CARICOM Results-Based Management (RBM) System based on the Community Strategic Plan 2015-2019.  The CARICOM RBM System was developed to serve as a mechanism to engender a more results-oriented culture within the Region.  It was executed to improve implementation rates, increase accountability, transparency and improve governance of the Community.  All regional institutions, including The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), were then mandated by CARICOM Heads of Government to adopt the RBM approach and institutionalise RBM in their operations. With activities such as these workshops, CARPHA is well on its way to fulfilling this mandate. Dr. Mark Sami, Director of Corporate Services elaborated that “RBM will ensure that organisational efficiency is enhanced because all departments whether corporate or technical will direct their energies towards the achievement of set objectives, thus ensuring unity in purpose.”

Funding for this activity is being provided by the European Union (EU) through the 11th European Development Fund (11th EDF) Programme of Support for Health Security Strengthening for Prevention and Control of Outbreaks of Communicable Diseases in the Caribbean, for which CARPHA is the Executing Agency.  The Secretariat of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) has supported CARPHA’s access to these resources. This project, which is valued at €8,000,000.00 and has a duration of four (4) years, will enhance the institutional capacity of CARPHA to effectively support the Caribbean in preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.

For additional information on the EU Project:

https://carpha.org/Projects/Ongoing-Projects/11th-EDF-Regional-Health-Security

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