New Director of PAHO Sworn In
#Kingston, Jamaica, February 6, 2023 – Director-designate of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Jarbas Barbosa da Silva Jr., was sworn into office on Tuesday (January 31), during a ceremony in the United States (US) capital, Washington DC.
He succeeds Dr. Carissa Etienne, under whose tenure he served as Assistant Director, and will commence his five-year term on Wednesday (February 1).
Dr. Etienne, a native of Dominica, demitted office after serving two five-year terms at the helm of PAHO, beginning 2012.
Dr. Barbosa, a Brazilian, was elected by delegates of PAHO Member States that participated in the 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference in Washington, last September.
He topped the field of five candidates, who included nominees from Haiti, Mexico, Panama, and Uruguay.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment, and Conference Vice President, Hon. Molwyn Joseph, presided over the ceremony, which was held at the Organization of American States (OAS) headquarters.
PAHO serves as the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Americas. Consequently, Dr. Barbosa has been appointed WHO Regional Director.
In his inaugural speech, Dr. Barbosa outlined five strategic pillars that he will be focusing on during his tenure.
These, he informed, were a commitment to help PAHO Member States end the COVID-19 pandemic in the Americas with the best tools available, particularly surveillance and vaccines; spearheading the application of lessons learnt from the pandemic to address the region’s vulnerabilities and better prepare countries to face new threats as they emerge; ensure timely and equitable access to health innovations for all countries; build resilient national health systems based on renewed and strengthened primary healthcare, and strengthening PAHO’s capacity to support Member States.
Dr. Barbosa expressed gratitude to Dr. Etienne, describing her as “my friend and mentor”, for allowing him to serve as her Assistant Director. He noted that despite their coming from “countries that seem so different”, he was “always amazed at how similar our perspectives and approaches are”, adding that “I believe this is because, at heart, we are both guided by our commitment”.
Dr. Barbosa said he was “proud and excited” to be leading PAHO, pointing out that he was grateful to the Member States reposing confidence in him.
“I commit to serving PAHO to the best of my ability, guided by the knowledge and experience I have accumulated during my years working in public health,” he said.
Dr. Etienne, in her remarks, described Dr. Barbosa as an exceptional technical and scientific leader, with strong competencies in epidemiology, medicine, and public health.
She noted that these attributes were “substantially and solidly” displayed in his contributions to his country, PAHO, WHO and the global health community.
The outgoing Director said her successor has “excellent listening skills, a characteristic that is so critical for effective leadership”.
“As I demit this office and hand the steering wheel over to my esteemed friend and colleague [Dr. Barbosa], I am confident that the future of the organisation will be in good hands,” she stated.
This, Dr. Etienne added, “as you will bring to your new role, exceptional expertise [and] astute policymaking skills, together with pragmatism and wisdom drawn from your many years of experience gained in your home country, Brazil, as well as internationally”.
She also expressed gratitude to the Member States for affording her the “honour and privilege” to serve as PAHO Director and for their active support throughout the past 10 years of her tenure.
“I must [also] convey my sincerest thanks and appreciation to all PAHO personnel, past and present, for their unstinting dedication and persistent commitment to the mission of this organisation. Thanks also to the many donors and collaborators who believed in our mission – the Mission of PAHO – and stood by us,” Dr. Etienne said.
Several prominent local, regional, and global figures delivered congratulatory messages to Dr. Barbosa on his appointment.
Among them were Brazil’s newly elected President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Minister of Health, Hon. Nísia Trinidade Lima; United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra; WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; OAS Secretary General, Luia Almargo and PAHO Directors Emeritus – Carlyle de Macedo, Sir George Alleyene, and Mirta Roses.
Contact: Douglas McIntosh
FBI and Bahamas looking into woman’s death
#TheBahamas, March 17, 2023 – The FBI is investigating a woman’s ‘suspicious’ death on a Carnival Cruise ship in February. The unnamed woman and her husband boarded the Carnival Sunshine on February 27th, for a trip to the Bahamas, but she was dead before they arrived in the port in The Bahamas.
The FBI said Carnival’s team had administered life saving measures when the woman was reported unresponsive, but they were unsuccessful. The body and the woman’s husband were released to the Bahamian authorities when the cruise arrived in the country.
In a statement shared with US media houses, Carnival Cruises claimed the death has been a natural one. The Nassau Guardian said a source told them the police findings had concurred with that assessment saying it was a “normal sudden death of a tourist who wasn’t feeling well.”
The FBI was waiting for the cruise and when it got back to South Carolina on March 4th, they immediately boarded and began to investigate the room based on ‘evidence of a crime.’ The FBI also searched the couple’s car.
No updates have been shared to contradict the currently established cause of death.
Why Sargassum Matters
#TheBahamas, March 17, 2023 – “If you don’t like it, go to another beach!” Is what Aaron John, an Education Officer from The Bahamas National Trust jokingly tells our news team about sargassum blooms; his quip, motivated by the necessity of nature when pit against the notion that there is a real threat when the stinky seaweed makes its annual appearance.
John can admit, he says, that Sargassum isn’t very pretty but life isn’t all about aesthetics and in this instance that ugly patch serves a purpose.
“We love our sandy beaches, but in order to keep them we need Sargassum. When storms come, they wash away all the sand off the beach but sargassum acts as a mulch to protect the sand from water erosion. It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t feel good but we need it.”
He said it also provides a habitat for small crustaceans, crabs, and insects that are all necessary to our ecosystem and islanders have found use for the weed.
“Historically, (in The Bahamas) we have been using sargassum as fertilizer, especially in the family Islands as far back as I know,” he said. “Birds don’t go on the beach unless there is Sargassum and what do they do? they feed – it’s beautiful.”
He encouraged residents to just leave it be if they came across it.
Sargassum isn’t harmful to humans, except for people with respiratory issues who may find the rotten egg smell triggers asthma. Despite this, it’s not advisable to walk through the weeds which may hide sharp rocks and bottles or vulnerable animals.
Experts say Sargassum blooms began to increase in size around 2011 and have continued to get bigger and bigger since. This year‘s bloom is around 5000 miles long and 300 miles wide and visible from space.
“I know it’s not a general outlook, but I would like to change the perspective on sargassum,” John said, pointing out The Bahamas National Trust is actively working to decrease alarm over the less worrisome events like sargassum as it raises the profile on the environmentally devastating.
Lease agreement approved for diaspora office
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – The Turks and Caicos’ Bahamas Diaspora Office is moving closer and closer to opening day, following the Cabinet’s approval for the signing of a lease agreement.
The lease will be signed with FINCEN ltd in the Bahamas. Several weeks ago, Arlington Musgrove, Minister of Immigration confirmed to our news team that the location had been found and was being finalized; now a lease is approved at the Cabinet level.
The interest in the TCI from TC Bahamians was evident in the diaspora meetings held in early February. The two meetings held in Nassau and Grand Bahama were completely full and over-subscribed by hundreds.
It’s interest which the Government hopes will translate to real life population growth, bolstering the local population before the native population ‘goes extinct’.
The Opposition PDM is on the record with what it feels is a far more viable solution to a dwindling native population; seek out the country’s own citizens and bring them back home.
Cabinet did not state when the office will open.
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