September 9, 2022 – The Caribbean Community is celebrating Caribbean Wellness Day (CWD) 2022 under the theme “Our Neighbourhood, Our Health”. In commemoration of the day, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), are calling on the region to “Reimagine Healthy Spaces” around three main themes – Active Societies, a Smoke Free Caribbean and Healthy Schools.
In a statement commemorating the occasion, Dr. Joy St John, Executive Director, CARPHA noted that, “We take this opportunity, at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, to create a renewed vision and re-commit to the practices and policies that we know support the health and wellbeing of our Caribbean people.”
Built spaces and urban planning laws can significantly impact the level of movement in society and is a crucial element in ensuring a healthier Caribbean.
“The commitment of governments towards the implementation of intersectoral public policies and programs so that all neighbourhoods have basic services, safe public transportation, areas where we can socialise, safe streets, places to walk and green spaces, is so important.” PAHO Director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne said. “I want to recognize the efforts of many municipalities in the region that are working on making their municipalities healthy, responding to the needs of people, and facilitating strategies that improve the conditions of places where they are born, work, study and have fun,” she added.
Another issue to be addressed during the “Reimagine Healthy Spaces” campaign is the negative impact that cigarettes have on both public health and the environment.
Dr. St John noted that, “Millions of trees are cut down annually to produce the number of cigarettes that the industry demands to maintain profits, while cigarette butts and packaging can contribute to environmental pollution.” She asserted that, “This reimagining of a smoke-free Caribbean, that limits the negative impact of the tobacco industry on our health and our environment is necessary, not just for our own health but for the health of the next generation.”
Sir Trevor Hassell, President, Healthy Caribbean Coalition noted that “Healthy Schools are a cornerstone of our neighbourhoods and a building block of a productive society. A Healthy school is smoke-free, promotes inclusive physical activity and is protected by healthy school policies.” He elaborated, “These policies would limit the sale and marketing of foods full of sugar, fats and salt both in and around schools, while increasing the availability of healthy foods and drinking water.” In keeping with this, the recently launched digital campaign, ‘#ActOnFacts – The Food in Schools Matters’, encourages public and policymaker support for the introduction of policies that puts the health of our children at the centre.
Caribbean Wellness Day
Caribbean Wellness Day is celebrated each year on the second Saturday in September to address the threat posed by non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The day was originally conceived by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and is an integral part of the Port of Spain Declaration where the region united to fight the epidemic of NCDs. The event aims to increase awareness and promote activities to address non-communicable diseases including mental health issues.
The overall theme for Caribbean Wellness Day for the five year-period, 2020-2024 has been, “Power Through Collective Action”. It is this collective power that can be harnessed to affect the much-needed changes that can transform our spaces into enabling environments for a healthier Caribbean people. Collectively, the region has the power to bring the vision of a healthier Caribbean to life – one person, one neighbourhood, one nation at a time.
CARPHA, HCC and PAHO invite the public to join the celebration by visiting our social media pages to share your vision of Healthy Spaces. The campaign will feature key facts around the need for change, enable conversation in our communities and encourage our leaders to continue to build on the commitments made in the historic Port of Spain declaration.
Follow the campaign by using the hashtags: #CaribbeanWellnessDay, #CWD2022, #CWDHealthySpaces
Suspected COVID-19 vaccine death in SVG
By Shanieka Smith
At the start of the Vaccine Mandate lawsuit in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Chief Medical Officer Dr Simone Keizer-Beache told the court that one person may have died after being injected with the COVID-19 vaccine.
As of November 26, 2021, 53,852 doses of the vaccine were administered in SVG; 25 resulted in adverse effects. While the cases were moderate, Dr. Keizer- Beache said one individual experienced severe weakness and soon died after receiving the vaccination.
The doctor said that after several diagnoses, the patient received an MRI in the US and it showed that they possibly had acute hyperactive encephalopathy, which is common with COVID-19 or post-COVID-19 vaccine inflammation.
“The final cause of death on the post-mortem was venous thrombosis and pulmonary thromboembolism. However, to date, no definitive diagnosis has been made of the cause of the progressive weakness that preceded death because of the lack of conclusive evidence and conflicting diagnoses,” Keizer-Beache later added.
The lead counsel for the claimants in the trial, Cara Shillingford–Marsh said it is important for the state to recognise and admit that someone died from the COVID-19 vaccine. Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan, the lead lawyer for the respondent, however, said taking the vaccine was a personal choice and individuals should face the consequences of this decision.
Shillingford-Marsh added that the individuals were not being monitored after receiving the vaccine. No mention was made by the doctor about any measures taken to monitor the side effects of the number of people that died.
She argued that making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory would be inhumane and according to Section 5 of the constitution, no individual should be subject to inhumane treatment or punishment. Shilling-Marsh recalled the number of citizens that lost their jobs due to the vaccine mandate in December 2021. She said it is inhumane to force people to take new drugs into their bodies which could have adverse side effects.
“There’s no force; there was no threat of force. There was no suggestion that the Special Services Unit or the regional services unit were going to come and collect everybody, put them in a stadium and inject them one by one. That would be the level of atrocity that would be required to meet the test under Section 5,” Astaphan rebutted.
Caribbean among regions lacking in HIV prevention, treatment says UNICEF
By Shanieka Smith
December 1, 2022 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) noted that over the past three years, no advancements have been made in HIV prevention and treatment, particularly in the Caribbean, which is among several other regions that still have not attained pre-pandemic statistics.
“Children are falling through the cracks because we are collectively failing to find and test them and get them on life-saving treatment. Every day that goes by without progress, over 300 children and adolescents lose their fight against AIDS,” the associate chief said.
UNICEF noted a decline in the number of children living with HIV over the last decade. The number of new infections decreased by 52 per cent for children under 14 years old, and by 40 per cent for those ages 15 to 19. The treatment gap between children and adults still widens and failure to address this will make ending AIDS in children and adolescents impossible.
According to UNICEF, only 52 per cent of children living with HIV globally are able to access treatment. Pregnant and breastfeeding women in many high-priority countries experienced a decline in treatment coverage in 2020, which led to over 75,000 new child infections.
Bains gave assurance that strategic partnership, the availability of resources, and a renewed political commitment to those who are most vulnerable will help to end AIDS in children, pregnant women and adolescents.
TCI Natl Security Bosses headed to The Bahamas
By Dana Malcolm
The co-chairs of the Turks and Caicos’ National Security Council will be heading to The Bahamas in the coming days to meet with both their Bahamian counterparts and representatives from the United States in order to deepen their security collaboration.
Governor Nigel Dakin made the announcement on Tuesday on Instagram.
The delegation seems to be a fairly strong one with the top bosses to be accompanied by Senior Police, Regiment and National Security Secretariat officials.
The visit comes as a five nation coalition which also includes the UK and Jamaica, works to keep crime under control in the Turks and Caicos.
In addition to that Dakin revealed updated specs for the country’s patrol boats. The Marine branch of the Royal TCI Police is now outfitted with thermal imaging and radar capacity.
The governor touted the new capabilities as a major refit that swings the advantage in the direction of the TCI.
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