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CARPHA Convenes Landmark High Level Meetings to discuss Regional Health Security and Solidarity

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  20 July 2022.   “The impact of and challenges posed by COVID-19 and its variants made CARPHA realise how much ground we had to cover for this particular ever growing COVID-19 family – with the highly infectious BE.1 and BF.1 being the latest sub variants of Omicron that we have just sequenced in the Region. The lessons we have learnt from this massive fight against COVID-19 have stood us in good stead for the new disease monkeypox that has followed all too quickly to the Caribbean shores.” These were the words of Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), as she spoke at the Opening Ceremony of the Stakeholder Consultations on Regional Health Security hosted by the Agency.

The high level meetings held over three days from 19 – 21 July 2022, at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad, brought together laboratory directors, national epidemiologists and environmental officers from CARPHA Member States, Chief Medical Officers, CARICOM and other regional entities, as well as international development partners and public health agencies.

Dr. St. John further stated “The time is right for this meeting of key stakeholders to discuss regional Health Security, face the problems of the deficiencies and faults and plan collectively for the most effective ways and efficient road map to fix the ring fence that the CARICOM Caribbean needs to deal with whatever is around the corner.

Dr. Lisa Indar, CARPHA’s Director of Surveillance, Disease emphasised that as economies reopen, CARPHA is refocusing on strengthening capacities and sustainable mechanisms to promote resilience and economic recovery, to better prepare for and respond to public health issues that transcend boundaries and potentially impact on economic and political stability, trade, tourism, and access to goods and services in the Region.

Dr. Carla N. Barnett, Secretary-General of CARICOM, giving remarks at the ceremony said “We as a Region must consider Regional Health Security as we move to revitalize our economies, we have to continue to learn how to secure our health, education and social sectors while living with COVID19. This pandemic has taught us that we must ensure that our health systems are resilient to assure our health security.

Dr. Richard Garfield, Acting Team Lead for Global Health Security Agenda and International Health Regulations of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, praised CARPHA and the Caribbean region for the very good job in being able to maximise the use of limited resources better than other regions for COVID-19 response.  “The strategies and plans that you have in the past have stood out as being more practical than those of many other regions in the world.”

The Honourable Terrance Deyalsingh, Minister of Health Trinidad and Tobago acknowledged CARPHA’s stellar leadership in public health, and providing evidence based information especially through COVID-19 response.  The Minister also called for taking solidarity to the next level of global solidarity, and for equity in resources and response, stating “new diseases like COVID-19 are emerging at unprecedented rates, disrupting people’s health and causing social and economic impact. Access to healthcare, preventative medicines, and vaccination programmes are crucial elements in regional health security.  The Region has used its limited resources to get the biggest bang for its buck, as opposed to countries with far more resources than ourselves.  The COVID-19 pandemic has raised global awareness of the importance of health security, and the systems and capacity needed to prevent, and detect global health threats.”

The 3-day Stakeholder Consultations on Regional Health Security is funded by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), and the Government of Canada through the Global Affairs Canada.

More information about the Stakeholder Consultations on Regional Health Security can be accessed here.

 

Release: CARPHA

Photo Caption: Opening Ceremony of the CARPHA Stakeholders Consultation on Regional Health Security, 19 July 2022, Hyatt Regency, Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago.

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~SANDALS® RESORTS OPENS ITS 18TH RESORT IN SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES~

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AN EASTERN CARIBBEAN GEM IS UNEARTHED

April 4, 2024, Montego Bay, Jamaica – In an intimate ribbon cutting ceremony commemorating Sandals Resorts’ entry into the largely undiscovered destination of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the only Caribbean born superbrand welcomed its first guests to a nature-forward experience brimming with island inspiration and stirring ‘Sandals Firsts’.

Witnessed by government officials, Sandals executives, guests and resort team members, an emerald green ribbon, representative of the island’s flag and lush surroundings, was cut signaling the official opening of Sandals Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International Adam Stewart, spoke on what the opening of the hotel chain’s 18th resort meant for the brand, the island and the Caribbean at large. “This is a multi-generational act in the making that began with my extraordinary father Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart and Prime Minister Gonsalves many years ago. They flirted heavily about flying the Vincy flag not only here but in all the other islands across the Caribbean that Sandals has its operations. Little did we know that 43 years later the Sandals brand would grow from one 99-room hotel in Montego Bay to a top 500 brand known on the world stage as a super brand. The only Caribbean born commercial super brand known across the United States, Europe and Canada with over 84% brand penetration and recognition,” he shared.

He expounded further on what he dubbed the Sandals Effect, a confluence of things that happen when Sandals comes to town. “First and foremost, we market the destination, both St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The landscape that makes up this incredible archipelago will benefit. Directly and indirectly for linkages, tour operators, taxi operators, restaurateurs, musicians, farmers, fishers, entrepreneurs, hardware store operators, the entire ecosystem and connectivity we plan to make sure that the entire world knows.”

With Sandals’ expansion to the island, airlift has increased exponentially with more availability on the horizon. According to Adam Stewart, numerous airlines have adjusted their schedules in anticipation for the demand. “American Airlines used to fly twice per week to and from the Argyle Airport, since April the airline has increase to four times per week and is expected to have daily flights by the end of 2024. Air Canada and Virgin have increased their airlift with JetBlue and United Airlines now flying to the island for the first time. Nationals and visitors will have the opportunity to fly more conveniently and we will continue to grow. ,” expressed Stewart.

The resort, in May 2024, is expected to host some 300 top travel advisors from around the world, the largest contingent of international travel professionals to ever visit Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Dr. The Honourable, Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, in his main address added further credence to the impact Sandals has on his country and the CARICOM community. “During COVID, unemployment went up, there was a decline in economic activity in the region. At the time we also had volcanic eruptions, Sandals came to us with a proposal to recruit Vincentians and send them to their resorts across the Caribbean to be trained. We had to evacuate 20,000 persons with some in shelters for four to six months. Along came a friend in Sandals who said they could ease some of the pressure providing opportunities for 500 people and these little things talk to me about partnership. This might have been small for Sandals but it was a huge thing for us in the condition in which we found ourselves and I want to thank Sandals and Adam.”

“It is an understatement really to call Sandals a brand. It has become an existential part of our Caribbean civilization. This civilization is tailor-made for tourism and Butch Stewart has helped to shape this aspect of the material to help sustain us. I think that when the history of the 20th into the 21st century is written, there would be a towering place for this legend,” The Hon. Gonsalves continued.

In honour of the late Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, Prime Gonsalves in opining that the relationship he enjoyed with the late founder made him “one of us” shared a remarkable plan to celebrate his memory and contributions to tourism and economic development in the region. “The government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had indicated to Sandals that we will build the road coming to the entrance of the hotel. Having built it, we will call it the Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart Boulevard,” the Prime Minister announced proudly to stirring applause from the audience.

Sandals Saint Vincent and the Grenadines offers 301 rooms and suites across 50 lush-laden acres, authentically embracing its Saint Vincent location with an experience that is as thoughtful as it is meticulously local.

About Sandals® Resorts
Sandals® Resorts offers the ease and refinement of the most-awarded luxury all-inclusive vacation experience in the Caribbean. With 18 beachfront settings in Jamaica, Antigua, Saint Lucia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Curaçao, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, each resort reflects the design, cuisine, and unique essence of its island home. From butler service and gourmet dining to top-shelf spirits and luxurious suites, including the Caribbean’s first Overwater Villas and Bungalows, Sandals Resorts is celebrated for pioneering innovations that constantly evolve and elevate the all-inclusive vacation experience. The brand has recently piloted fresh concepts such as MINI Coopers for exploring beyond the resort gates and an off-site Island Inclusive dining program, while staying true to its Caribbean roots and showcasing the transformative link between tourism and its power to transform lives through its philanthropic arm, the Sandals Foundation. Sandals Resorts is part of family-owned Sandals Resorts International (SRI) which includes family-friendly Beaches Resorts, and is the Caribbean’s leading all-inclusive resort company. For more information about the Sandals Resorts Luxury Included® difference, visit www.sandals.com.

 

Contact Person:
Jervene Simpson
Senior Manager, Communications and Public Relations
Sandals Resorts International
876-275-7021
Email: jervene.simpson@sri.sandals.com

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CARICOM pushes need for Reparations Tribunal at Forum in Geneva

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Rashaed Esson
Staff Writer 

Words are in circulation in support for the establishment of an international tribunal, geared towards seeking reparations for centuries long transatlantic slave trade, after a CARICOM official made calls at the third session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (PFPAD) in Geneva, Switzerland.

During day two of the gathering held from April 16 to 19, 2024, David Comissiong, Barbados Ambassador to the Caribbean Community, stated there is a need for the tribunal as there is currently no international court to deal with the issues of reparations.

Commision, like the other members that support his view, according to reports, are aware this won’t be an easy feat, as he expressed that establishing the tribunal would require a “positive decision” by the UN General Assembly, further  calling on the officials at the Forum and the UN, to come together through international collaboration and “make this happen.”

The idea creation of the tribunal was born last year 2023, suggested by the PFPAD, now reiterated by Comissiong.

Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, in a video, addressing the opening of the forum, supported the ongoing calls for respiratory efforts, a sentiment not shared by many.

Mentioning that racism is still an issue in today’s society, Guterres said, “ now we must build on that momentum, to drive meaningful change by ensuring that people of African descent enjoy the full and equal realization of their human rights; by stepping up efforts to eliminate racism and discrimination, including through reparations.”

 

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CARICOM sends warning as Oil prices creep higher in the Israel v Iran conflict; 14 regional states import energy

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Garfield Ekon
Staff Writer

The recent attack on the Sate of Israel by the Islamic Republic of Iran, has delivered growing uncertainty across the Caribbean region, and the rest of the global economy.

Chief among the many concerns, is the free flow of oil from the Middle East, which stands at 31% of daily production for the global economy. At minimum, shipping costs are likely to increase based on the increased risk of military action in the Persian Gulf.

Pressure is also building on US and European insurance clubs to avoid any transaction, including those with China, that involve Iranian crude and additional rerouting of oil and gas shipments in response to Houthi threats, or Allied responses.

According to the Caribbean Community Council of Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), “these developments not only exacerbate the already tense situation but also pose significant threats to regional stability and international peace,” the group warned in a media statement.

It added that the continued cycle of retaliation, including the recent attack on Israel by Hamas, Israel’s “disproportionate response” in Gaza, and the “alarming new dimension of direct confrontations between Israel and Iran, leads to an untenable situation fraught with potential for greater regional conflict and global instability.

“The human toll of this conflict, highlighted by tragic incidents such as deaths and injuries to children, demand an immediate and empathetic response from the global community. It is imperative that there be no further escalation that can lead to more suffering and instability,” it said.

While calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities between Israel and Iran, the regional body underscored that it strongly urges both nations to halt any further military actions that could worsen the situation, endangering not only their own populations but also the broader international community.

“We implore all parties to consider the severe consequences of further conflict and to commit to diplomatic solutions that ensure the safety, sovereignty, and dignity of all people involved,” the CARICOM statement said.

On October 6, 2023, the day before Hamas attacked Israel, the international benchmark Brent crude was trading at $85 per barrel and has been fluctuating at up to $96.

On Thursday, it traded at $91 per barrel. With the exception of gas-rich Trinidad and Tobago, the 14 other countries of CARICOM, are energy importers.

Approximately 93 percent of the region’s energy needs are met by oil imports, which average 13% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

 

 

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