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Caribbean News

Remembering Stephanie Suazo; her Mother continues a Quest for Answers to the heart-crushing loss of a promising 11-year-old



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer 



#TurksandCaicos, March 2, 2023 – At eleven years old Stephanie Suazo used to play a game with her mother Myriam, pretending to be asleep in bed so her mother would come over and tickle her till she laughed; but on January 29th 2020 when Myriam tickled her daughter she didn’t move, and blood was dripping from her mouth.  Within hours she was declared dead by medical personnel. It seemed impossible, Myriam told us, because only the day before she had taken her daughter to the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre where she was assured her daughter was not seriously ill.


Over the phone and with palpable sadness, Myriam relived the moments, saying she had taken the day off that Tuesday and went to the hospital around 6:30 a.m. She waited with Stephanie for around two and a half hours before they could see a doctor and when they finally did,

“[The doctor] just looked at her and asked her how she was feeling and looked at her throat– [the doctor] said maybe she’s coming down with the cold and [prescribed] her some antibiotics, paracetamol and something for her throat, and then said to me, she should be able to go back to school on Thursday.”

She wasn’t okay.

In fact, her autopsy would eventually reveal that Stephanie had viral myocarditis unbeknownst to Myriam and undetected by the doctor.

Allowed to take Stephanie home, the unsuspecting mother, armed with chicken soup and medication prescribed by the TCI Hospitals’ physician, fed and medicated her child with the belief that she would be fine by morning.

As she shared the events, despite holding back tears, Myriam was clear and coherent and recalled with painful precision, the worst day of her life.


Recently hired at the bank and not wanting to take too many days off, Myriam explained she had arranged for her close friend to take care of Stephanie while she went to work. After feeding her daughter and giving her the prescribed medication, Myriam says she made sure Stephanie was comfortable being without her for the day, kissed her and left.

“When I got to work, I told my supervisor that I was not going to take lunch because I wanted to leave early. It‘s just how I am. If I know she’s not well, I can’t be at peace.” she said.

But by around 4 pm, Myriam got a call from her friend who put Stephanie on the phone, she complained of a stomach ache and Myriam immediately made arrangements for them to go to Graceway Medical Centre, but they never made it.

The trip for a second opinion never happened because once Myriam got home intending to head to the doctor (after another phone call in which her daughter complained of ‘feeling cold’) her friend informed, ‘Stephanie was asleep.’ Knowing her daughter’s little game, Myriam went in to tickle her and realized something was very wrong.

“I called her: I said ‘baby’ and she didn’t respond so I knew she was waiting for me to tickle her. I tickled her and she didn’t respond.”  Myriam explained,  “I put my hand under her head and then I took her in my arms, that’s when I saw the blood coming out of her mouth. I started screaming ‘my baby my baby’.”

She immediately called 911 requesting an ambulance, but Myriam says they took too long to arrive.

“I gave them the address over and over– they took forever. I was just screaming so my friend was there doing CPR. [my friend] was pressing her chest and blood was coming out of her mouth. The police arrived first and they continued doing CPR for her and the ambulance still didn’t come. The police had to flash their sirens for them to find the house.”

After that everything was a whirlwind, a blur told she was not allowed in the ambulance, she was driven to the hospital by police and less than an hour after arriving doctors came to tell her that her little girl did not make it, allowing her to say goodbye.

“I was in shock- looking at her like this is not for real,” she told us in tears. “We were always together and I had to leave her at the hospital that night.”

Beside herself with grief Myriam tells us she didn’t sleep, she kept thinking that it wasn’t real, that her daughter would wake up. Her only solace, a kind police officer.

“I was still hopeful like she was going to wake up. I spent the whole night calling Albert, he’s a police officer” she explained to us “He was the one that arrived, and I called him all night. I told him please have someone check the morgue, maybe she might get up. And he told me okay I’m going to have someone check for you.”

The day following Stephanie’s passing Myriam says she was dragged to the police station, and continuously interviewed about Stephanie’s death.


“It was so weird, it almost seemed like they thought I had done something to my daughter; investigating me instead of the hospital. It was a nightmare.”

They took her daughter’s passport, laptop and phone and initially refused to give them back. The hospital released a press statement she explained, without really talking to her, and her daughter’s picture, unauthorized by her, was shared nationally. It was only through the help of a very close friend, whom she describes as more of a mother to her, that Myriam was able to recover her daughter’s personal effects from the police. She claims the police “lied” about finding suspicious searches on her laptop describing it all as a horror story.

The situation with the TCI Hospitals and Stephanie’s medical records was similar.  We were told the documents were only received after a lot of running around, a lot of back and forth.

Today, Myriam feels her matter lacked urgent, respectful attention because she lacked clout.

“I’m just a regular person so it’s like her life doesn’t matter because of that, that’s how I feel. They completely disregarded me like I didn’t even matter. The autopsy results, the bloodwork, they didn’t want to give us anything so we had to keep chasing after them to give it to us.”

She feels that in the aftermath the hospital washed its hands of the incident making her out to be responsible, and now feels duped, like her faith in them was misplaced.

“I’m not God. I don’t know why it happened but I feel that at least I took her to the hospital. I feel like if they had just looked at her properly or done some examinations” she broke off “Don’t just look at her and say nothing is wrong with her. You prescribed her things, I go home and then she’s dead the next day? And everyone acts like it’s normal, it’s nothing.”


Myriam continues to have concerns about the strength of the medication prescribed and administered to her daughter.  On this three year anniversary, Magnetic Media is told that  Stephanie’s toxicology report listed several medications as being in the child’s system including ACETAMINOPHEN and PHENIRAMINE which have documented cases, though rare, of cardiac toxicity.

“When the lady gave me the medication I remember telling her those are adult medications and she told me that once a child is 11 years old they start prescribing them adult medications.”

Three years later Myriam just wants justice for her daughter, but time is running out for her to file a case and she needs her daughter’s story to be heard. She said she tried to file a case and her first lawyer agreed to take it, had agreed she had a viable case and expressed suspicion regarding the autopsy results but suddenly backed out.

“Everyone I turn to, no one can help me. I went to another lawyer just the day before yesterday and he said I’m not going to lie to you, there are many people who have taken the hospital to court and they have failed. It’s the hospital and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Stephanie’s autopsy states a probable cause of death as viral myocarditis, a type of heart disease caused when viral infections reach the heart inflaming its muscles and making it difficult to pump blood. Several infections can cause myocarditis including Influenza (flu) virus, Coxsackie virus, Parvovirus, Adenovirus and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Myriam, in telling us about how pleasant and precious and fill of potential Stephanie was, says she is determined to be a champion for her child, even though she is no longer physically here.

“You will never know how it feels until it happens. It’s not going to bring her back but I want her story to be heard and people need to know that she was here. That she had dreams. She was a good and grateful person and so positive,” she said.

Now Myriam cannot bear to be in the place where her daughter passed away and every time she sees someone her daughter’s age, the broken-hearted mother wonders what could have been.

We have reached out to the hospital for answers to these burning questions and about a case which stunned the nation; a case which soon lost steam in the head to head challenge against the then unprecedented uniqueness of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

While TCI Hospitals, following our news report in TCI Top Stories (audio newscast) has responded to the mother with the intention of ensuring Myriam is supplied her daughter’s records; it was a short-lived hope for something more, as the family is already in possession of those records.

On the belief and allegation of her family that the death of young Stephanie Suazo back in 2020 was due to medical negligence or incompetence of some sort, we continue to await a formal statement from InterHealth Canada TCI Hospitals.

Bahamas News

Kamala Harris to meet with Caribbean leaders in The Bahamas



Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer



#USA, June 5, 2023 – Kamala Harris, United States Vice President will journey to Nassau Bahamas in June for a top level meeting with Caribbean  leaders, marking the first time she will visit the region since occupying office in 2021.

According to the White House in a statement, the meeting will bring attention to a range of regional issues.  Harris and the Caribbean leaders will continue talks on the shared efforts to address the climate crisis, such as promoting climate resilience and adaptation in the region and increasing energy security through clean energy.

Additionally, the statement informed that Harris’ trip “delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance cooperation with the Caribbean in pursuit of shared prosperity and security, and in recognition of the common bonds and interests between our nations.”

The June 8th meeting builds on and strengthens the U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030, which was launched by the Vice President and Caribbean leaders in Los Angeles at the Summit of the Americas as further mentioned by White House Statement.

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Caribbean News

CARPHA Observes World No Tobacco Day



Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, June 5, 2023 –   Tobacco use remains a major public health concern in the Caribbean Region. There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. The use of tobacco products in any form harms nearly every organ of the body, irrespective of whether it is smoked, smokeless, or electronic.  Of all the forms of tobacco use, most common in the Caribbean region is cigarette smoking.   Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. Using other tobacco products such as cigars or pipes also increases the risk for this disease.

Second-hand smoke exposure causes stroke, lung cancer, and coronary heart disease in adults; and acute respiratory infections and severe asthma in children. It is a preventable risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), which are the leading cause of death, disease and disability among Caribbean people.

This year, World No Tobacco Day focuses on Grow Food, Not Tobacco. This campaign advocates for ending tobacco cultivation and switching to more sustainable crops that improve food security and nutrition. The campaign observed annually on 31 May, also informs the public on the dangers of direct use, and exposure to tobacco.

In the Caribbean Region, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death and disability – 76.8% of the total deaths (non-Latin Caribbean, excluding Haiti) were due to NCDs in 2016. Cardiovascular diseases 30.8% and cancer 17.2% are the leading causes of death due to NCD, both linked to tobacco use. Many of these persons die in the prime of their lives before the age of 70 years old. The prevalence of smokers for overall tobacco products ranged from 57.2% prevalence (95%CI 48.4 to 65.4%) to 16.2% (95%CI 11.2 to 23.0%). According to the Report on Tobacco Control in the Region of the Americas (2018) Caribbean countries have the highest levels of tobacco experimentation before the age of 10.

Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) “Smokeless does not mean harmless.  Nicotine in e-cigarettes is a highly addictive drug and can damage children’s developing brains.  Children and adolescents who use e-cigarettes at least double their chance of smoking cigarettes later in life.  Preventing tobacco product use among youth is therefore critical.  It is important that we educate children and adolescents about the harms of nicotine and tobacco product use. We must work to prevent future generations from seeing such products as “normal”.”

In 2008, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) endorsed the recommendation to ban smoking in public spaces.  Later, in 2012, CARICOM regulated a standard for labelling retail packages of tobacco products with health warnings. Caribbean civil society organisations (CSOs), working in collaboration with local governments and international partners, have led the charge in fighting for significant gains in tobacco control in the Caribbean region.

Dr Heather Armstrong, Head, Chronic Disease and Injury: “At CARPHA, we believe that reducing the harm caused by tobacco use requires a collective approach, where government, civil society, and the individual play a critical role. CARPHA promotes the prevention of tobacco use in all forms and commitment to the WHO FCTC. The focus on tobacco control deals with the youth of the Region.   Children and adolescents who use e-cigarettes at least double their chance of smoking cigarettes later in life.”

The Chronic Diseases and Injury Department of CARPHA provides leadership, strategic direction, coordinates and implements technical cooperation activities directed towards the prevention and control of NCDs in CARPHA Member States. CARPHA’s message for prevention of tobacco product use has spread across its Member States.

In 2018, CARPHA in partnership with the University of the West Indies (UWI), Global Health Diplomacy Program at the University of Toronto, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the Healthy Caribbean Coalition evaluated the Port of Spain Declaration to learn which mandates helped to prevent and control NCDs. Taxation, smoke-free public places mandate, and mandatory labelling of tobacco products are some of the leading policies making the biggest impact on reduction of tobacco use in the Caribbean regions.

CARPHA urges Member States to work together to prevent and reduce the use of all forms of tobacco products, and scale-up efforts to implement their commitments under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).  By doing so, the negative impact of smoking and its consequences on the health of our people, especially the younger generation, and the tremendous burden on the economies of the countries in our Region, will greatly be reduced.

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Caribbean News

Hunger rates rise in Latin America and the Caribbean



Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer



June 5, 2023 – It’s an unfortunate reality for Latin America and the Caribbean as the number of people suffering from hunger surged by 30 percent;  56 million people now facing hunger, a large increase from 43 million in 2019.

It was revealed by Mario Lubetkin,  Deputy Director General and Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), where he further informed that the war in Ukraine, COVID-19, and the ongoing climate crisis are to blame for the surge.

Regarding the climate crisis, he emphasized that climate related challenges are on the rise as the region experiences combinations of droughts and floods; and to combat this, he expressed that proactive measures should be put in place to prepare farmers for potential severe impacts.

To help mitigate the surge in hunger rate, he put forth a three fold approach.

The first is the importance of effectively managing the current situation by whatever means necessary; for the second, he fingered the need for the creation of sufficient funds to mitigate the impact on farmers, for the third, he highlighted the need for collaboration among Governments, public sectors, and private sectors in order to mollify the burden of rising prices on consumers.

These highlighted efforts are in line with the aspirations and duties of the FAO which is devoted to supporting family farming, which makes up 80 percent of the workforce in the Agriculture sector.

Additionally, Lubetkin spoke of FAO’s commitment to quality products and brought attention to the United Nations Decade of Family Farming, which is geared towards  eradicating hunger, ensuring food security, and promoting sustainable development in rural areas.

The organization also aims to enhance food security, a needed element in the regions, through innovation and digitization processes for example “1,000 digital villages,” one of their projects  aids countries in using  digital tools in agri-food systems and rural territories.

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