#June 27, 2022 – CARICOM Member States are poised to benefit from a fund to strengthen health systems to prevent, control and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and other emerging and re-emerging threats. The fund will also support the generation of evidence and information to inform decision-making on the management of public health priorities and emergencies and disease control programmes and policies.
Financing for the project “Health Systems Strengthening for CARICOM Member States to Respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Other Emerging and Re-emerging Threats” is provided by the Kingdom of Spain through the Joint Fund for CARICOM-Spain Scientific and Technical Cooperation, through the CARICOM Secretariat. Under this grant valued at US$1,189,247.00, CARPHA will be able to execute a series of interventions to the benefit of its Member States.
The launch of the project took place on 9 June 2022, at the headquarters of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
Dr. St. John expressed her gratitude to the Kingdom of Spain for the support, stating “We at CARPHA are pleased to have been entrusted with the management of these resources for the benefit of our Member States. Through these resources, CARPHA will develop a Caribbean COVID-19 Monitoring and Evaluation Framework and establish a regional COVID-19 data repository. The desired outcome of this intervention is to have Member States utilize data from the COVID-19 repository to inform decision-making at the national level.”
The project also enables the procurement and distribution of Personal Protective Equipment, equipment and supplies for testing including reagents and supplies to conduct whole genome sequencing, COVID-19 test kits and supporting reagents, PCR automatic sample extraction equipment and transportation, and shipping of laboratory specimens to CARPHA for testing to support ongoing laboratory surveillance and outbreak support for COVID-19 and other emerging and re-emerging threats.
In 1999, relations between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Kingdom of Spain were strengthened through the Agreement on Scientific and Technical Cooperation following the First CARICOM-Spain Summit held in Trinidad and Tobago. The Kingdom of Spain is a longstanding partner and continues to give its support to the Community’s efforts including health, industry, agriculture, fisheries, tourism, education and culture, teaching of Spanish, training of diplomats, and scientific and technological research.
Dr. Douglas Slater Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development, CARICOM, remarked “The Community recognizes with gratitude the contribution of the Government of Spain. This project is timely, as the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly weakened already fragile health systems across the region. The pandemic has taught us that we must consider the redesign of our health systems, to make them resilient to future pandemics and other disease outbreaks. Dr. Slater speaking on behalf of Dr. Carla Barnett, CARICOM Secretary General, further stated “To achieve this, we must focus on expanding the pool of trained health personnel; developing digital health systems; building capacity for vaccine development and regulation within the region and building health systems around primary health and community-based care models linked to centres of excellence. We as a region cannot achieve them alone. Partnerships like that with Spain are critical to facilitate achievement of these goals.”
In his remarks, His Excellency Fernando Nogales, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago stated that strengthening of health systems was critical to maintaining the trust and confidence that the Region has earned as a safe tourism destination. His Excellency reaffirmed that the Kingdom of Spain is very keenly aware of the specific needs of the Caribbean region and stands ready to provide support to projects such as this that will have a clear human development impact. The Spain-CARICOM Project will aim to ensure that decision-makers are provided with timely and accurate information to guide data-driven public health interventions.
Speaking at the ceremony Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Roshan Parasram brought remarks on behalf of the Honourable Terrance Deyalsingh, Minister of Health Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Strong healthcare systems bolster not only the supply and delivery of quality healthcare to CARICOM residents and citizens but can curb the potential detrimental and irrevocable effects of current and future pandemics. Strengthening CARICOM’s health systems against COVID-19 and other emerging and re-emerging threats should not be a choice but a priority. The pandemic has reiterated that health security cannot be seen as a cost, but rather a continuous investment necessary for stability and sustainability.
During the 2 year project, CARPHA will develop an integrated digital Monitoring and Evaluation platform and repository to improve monitoring of regional and international health objectives such as, Caribbean Cooperation in Health Four (CCH-IV) and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 – Good Health and Wellbeing, for CARICOM Member States. Resources procured through the Project have already been used to provide laboratory diagnostic testing services to Member States.
Polio is back; 65 million missed shots in another COVID fall out
By Dana Malcolm
#USA, August 4, 2022 – For the first time in almost a decade a new case of polio was recorded in the United States. The case which ended in paralysis emphasizes the danger the region faces as vaccination levels drop to 30-year lows.
The World Health Organization warned in early July explained that vaccination in the region of the Americas and the rest of world was dropping rapidly because of various spin off effects precipitated by the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Over 65 million infants missed out on basic vaccines in the last three years thanks to disruptions in routine healthcare, lockdowns and other circumstances. The effects are already being felt as once eradicated disease like measles and polio are once again emerging.
The Pan American Health Organization announced earlier this year the Americas are now facing another measles outbreak after having been declared free of the disease in 2016.
Dr. Jarvis Barbosa, Assistant director of PAHO said vaccination levels are now as low as they were in 1994 for measles and polio and Brazil has had several outbreaks of measles.
In the case of the United States an unvaccinated young adult developed the disease after contact with another individual vaccinated with a live version of the vaccine.
The breakout polio case in the US sent shockwaves across the country because of the severe nature of the disease. Polio is an extremely dangerous disease with no known cure. It causes paralysis in as many as 1 in 200 infected and that paralysis is permanent.
Normally very few school age children would be at risk in the Americas as the vaccine is required to start school but with the gap in vaccinations many more children are now at risk.
Polio was one of the most feared diseases of the 20th century, paralyzing and killing hundreds of thousands, especially children. Thankfully vaccinated individuals are not at risk and as such the WHO is advising that the best way to protect against polio is vaccination.
Photo Caption: Child in Benin takes Polio vaccine, UNSDG
Dunn’s River Offers Special Summer Package
#Jamaica, August 5, 2022 – Persons looking for an adventurous activity to do this summer are being encouraged to take advantage of the ‘Summa Thrills’ promotion, being offered by the world-famous Dunn’s River Falls and Park.
The promotion, which ends September 15, includes paying one cost to climb the Falls, ‘Tek-A-Hike’ and Zip over the Falls via the Chukka Falls Flyer. In addition, persons will also have access to the beach, splash pad, and other amenities.
The cost for residents is $5,000 per person and US$75 per person for non-residents. A photo identification is required to access the resident rate.
“We have partnered with CHUKKA to create this five-star experience,” Marketing Manager, Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Kereen Cole-Ivey, told JIS News.
She further informed that ‘Tek-A-Hike’ is the newest product offering at Dunn’s River Falls and Park and that the promotion provides an opportunity to build awareness and renew interest in the falls and park.
‘Tek-a-Hike’ is a guided, one-hour-and-a-half hike that starts at the Tranquility Gardens and ends in the Dunn’s River Falls & Park Nursery. Here guests can purchase plants or adopt a tree as part of the park’s Reforestation and Conservation Programme.
The hike is approximately two miles and is an experience that the entire family can enjoy. Along the trail, guests will learn about the flora and fauna on the entire property, which is called the Belmont property, as well as the general history of Dunn’s River Falls and Park. They will also get a chance to visit the Belmont Great House ruins.
“Coming out of COVID-19, we thought that this (Summa Thrills) would have been a very great adventure for the family and for everyone to enjoy and have a good time,” said Mrs. Cole-Ivey, adding that the UDC has other plans in place for Dunn’s River.
Dunn’s River Falls and Park is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Persons are being encouraged to book ahead via the Dunn’s River website at www.dunnsriverfallsja.com, otherwise tickets can be purchased on location.
You may also visit @dunnsriver.jamaica and @udcjamaica on Instagram or call 876 618-6052 for additional information.
The Dunn’s River Falls and Park is managed and operated by St. Ann Development Corporation (SADCO), a subsidiary of the UDC.
Contact: Shanna K. Salmon
Carnival Cruise ordered to pay $10.2 million for passenger claiming rape by staff
By Sherrica Thompson
#USA, August 5, 2022 – A Miami-based Federal Court returned a more than $10.2 million verdict against Carnival Cruise Line in favour of a passenger who claims a former crew member raped her in a storage closet aboard the Carnival Miracle in 2018.
A jury issued the verdict recently in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida finding Carnival liable for damages to the plaintiff, for false imprisonment and sexual assault by a crew member, in December 2018.
The jury separately found that Carnival was not negligent and that the former crew member did not intentionally inflict emotional distress on Plaintiff.
According to a statement issued last week Tuesday, Carnival Cruise Line said the incident between the plaintiff and the former crew member was consensual and plans to appeal the court’s decision.
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