By Rashaed Esson
April 28, 2023 – Dr. Margherita Ghiselli, PAHO Immunization Advisor during a PAHO press conference update on vaccination on Thursday, April 20th, 2023, revealed that more than eleven thousand children in the Caribbean region below 1 years old, nearly 1 in 10, are shockingly not fully vaccinated.
There are places in the Caribbean where medical services, particularly those for vaccination are not in the reach of residents. Additionally, it is quite common in the region for people to display a lack of confidence in vaccines for a number of reasons. Ghiselli highlighted this, stating that the number of unvaccinated children are linked to inaccessibility and doubtfulness because of fake news.
“this is due in part to services not always being available but also to a large degree, to vaccine hesitancy which is linked to misinformation,” she maintained.
The potential consequences of this is the Caribbean is left unprotected as new outbreaks are possible, especially since the Caribbean is a tourism hit spot; in fact, its number one industry, hence the importance of filling those gaps in the region’s vaccination coverage, as pointed out by Ghiselli.
To counter these issues, PAHO is collaborating with ministries of health and partners across the region to bring about a significant increase in vaccination coverage and to further educate the general public and health care workers on vaccines and vaccination.
Ghiselli stated also that PAHO, UNICEF and other collaborators which were not named, have surveys and data collection tools to better understand the concerns surrounding covid vaccines among the people for instance, doubt of the vaccine safety especially given the speed at which they were developed, and the efficacy since people can still become infected whether it be asymptomatic or mild, according to results stated by Ghiselli.
To further increase vaccine coverage, PAHO has also been working with Caribbean member states to fortify their vaccination programs and “close immunity gaps.”
Not only that, they are also making efforts to conduct behavioural research to aid in education on Immunization studies and Communication tools for the general public, health workers and decision makers alike.
Furthermore, PAHO agents are in close workings with professional associations to ensure the involvement of vaccine and vaccination training in the curriculum of medical schools, nursing schools and other associated institutions to encourage advocacy around vaccines.
UN and OECS hosts Caribbean Waste Management meeting held in Jamaica
#Jamaica, September 24, 2023 – Caribbean countries met in Kingston, Jamaica, to take part in a regional training and technical exchange activity, courtesy of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), to address the growing challenges of waste management and environmental sustainability in the Caribbean region; this is announced by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Held on the September 12-14, the workshop included the following objectives:
- Share good practices and lessons learned in the Caribbean for the improvement of waste data and statistics and associated indicators, especially from the four case study countries of the project.
- Strengthen waste information systems and capacity to deliver waste statistics by facilitating the integration of the Caribbean countries in the Waste and Circular economy Hub for Latin-America and the Caribbean.
- Promote the harmonisation of waste information systems in the Caribbean, strengthening their sustainability and enhancing regional cooperation in this field.
- Prepare draft work plans to improve the availability and reliability of data related to waste management and the circular economy.
- Network with peers, experts, and organisations involved in waste management and environmental conservation, fostering collaboration and information exchange.
In the statement, the OECS highlighted that the region is faced with various unique challenges in relation to waste management, and environmental conservation. It continued to express that as resource demand rises, the responsible management of waste becomes more essential.
However, it pointed to the Zero Waste in the Caribbean initiative, which it says was launched “to promote integrated and sustainable waste management in the context of a circular economy in the Caribbean.”
The Zero waste project is funded by the European Union, in collaboration with CARIFORUM, co-financed by the German cooperation and implemented by AFD, GIZ and UNEP, in partnership with the OECS.
Present at the opening of the meeting was H.E. Marianne Van Steen, European Union Ambassador who pointed to the importance of solid waste management strategies in the Caribbean. Her Excellency was pushing attention to the “Small Island Developing States”, which she says are facing specific roadblocks in finding effective ways to handle solid waste due to “their limited size and because of their limited waste management capacities.”
Considering the aim of the meeting, she continued to say that, “in order to face these challenges, waste data collection and management are key and the sharing of good practices and exchange of experiences during this workshop are essential and extremely valuable”.
The event was made possible through collaboration with the European Union, CARIFORUM, the German Development Cooperation, UNEP, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the French Development Agency (AFD), OECS and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), all committed to supporting sustainable waste management practices throughout the Caribbean.
It saw in person and virtual sessions as well as participants and saw the attendance of Government officials, environmental professionals, waste management experts and representatives from relevant organisations and institutions from across the Caribbean region.
UK Gov’t calls for proposals to handle sargassum in Caribbean
#UnitedKingdom, September 24, 2023 – The Government of The United Kingdom in recognizing the need for solutions to sargassum in the Caribbean is upping efforts by providing funding in order to attract research proposals on the invasive weed
Sargassum has been, for years now, plaguing regional counties like Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and the Dominican Republic, taking over their shores and affecting the quality of their beaches.
Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister of the UK Government, responding to requests from Caribbean leaders last week, invited partners to submit proposals for up to £300,000 (USD$374,000) before October 10.
According to reports, the research should advance commercial, scalable, safe solutions to process, sink or store the sargassum.
Amid this development, the Prime Minister expressed an understanding that “finding solutions to sargassum influxes could be vital to the Caribbean’s sustainable development and climate resilience.”
Smart City Project a Testament to Innovation, Progressive – Dr. Morris Dixon
#Kingston, September 24, 2023 – Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator Dr. the Hon. Dana Morris Dixon, has hailed the New Kingston smart city project as a testament to innovation and a beacon of hope and progress for the entire nation.
Dr. Morris Dixon, who has oversight for Skills and Digital Transformation, was addressing a smart city forum hosted by the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Company at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on September 20.
The forum, held in collaboration with US-based project development firm Tuatara Group, was designed to highlight the benefits of a smart city, which is about using technology to drive efficiency in a sustainable way, while enhancing the quality of life of its citizens. This includes improved safety, public Wi-Fi, traffic management, urban planning and environment monitors, among other benefits.
The event also gave an overview of the feasibility study for the JPS Smart City Demonstration Project for New Kingston.
The utility company has been awarded a grant by the United States Trade and Development Agency for technical assistance to identify and deploy cutting edge technology and energy solutions in the business district and develop a roadmap for broader implementation of smart cities throughout the country.
JPS is promising to redefine urban living in New Kingston through smart city solutions such as a smart grid, intelligent transportation, and improved potable water supply, safety and security, solid waste, public health and environmental services.
President and Chief Executive Officer, JPS, Steve Berberich, said that the company has been investing in the New Kingston space with the rollout of smart meters and smart LED streetlights, among other solutions.
Dr. Morris Dixon, in her address, noted that technology is playing a pivotal role in refining the urban landscape, making these areas more resilient, efficient and people friendly.
She is urging citizens, as Jamaica strides into the digital era, to embrace technological innovations and adapt them to meet their unique circumstances and challenges.
She noted that the Government, in its digital transformation thrust, is not only about fostering new skills and digital literacy but “reshaping Jamaica for a new era where technology empowers our communities, businesses and institutions”.
Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport, Hon. Daryl Vaz, in his remarks noted that the concept of a smart city centres around creating spaces that are efficient, inclusive and sustainable for every citizen.
The smart city uses information and communications technology (ICT) to improve efficiencies, share information with the public and help provide better quality services to promote economic growth and improve the quality of life for all, he pointed out further.
Minister Vaz said that the Government is connecting citizens, through the provision of free Wi-Fi hotspots in more than 180 communities in rural and urban areas.
Noting that the smart city will also improve transportation for people, he said that Jamaica has set a goal of having 10 per cent of transportation powered by electric vehicles (EV) by 2030.
“The Government is doing that through the boosting of the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) fleet with the addition of 45 EVs, which will ply the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR),” he said.
Contact: Chris Patterson
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