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New Agenda for the Americas in Mental Health Announced by PAHO 

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By Rashaed Esson

Staff writer

 

June 18, 2023 – As mental health continue to experience an elevated profile as a global health priority, PAHO reports, “A New Agenda for Mental Health in the Region of the Americas,” was launched on June 9th, 2023, and it highlights recommendations to better address mental health in the Americas following the COVID-19 pandemic which has worsened mental health issues.

The report comes following the establishment of the High-Level Commission on Mental Health and COVID-19, in May of 2022, which comprised 17 experts from Government, civil society, academia as well as those with lived experience of mental health conditions.

Their job was to give guidance to PAHO and its Member States on how to advance mental health in the Region during and after the pandemic.

The report provides countries with ten recommendations to improve mental health care and they are:

  • Elevate mental health at the national and supranational levels.
  • Integrate mental health into all policies.
  • Increase the quantity and improve the quality of financing for mental health.
  • Ensure the human rights of people living with mental health conditions.
  • Promote and protect mental health across the life course.
  • Improve and expand community-based mental health services and care.
  • Strengthen suicide prevention.
  • Adopt a gender transformative approach to mental health.
  • Address racism and racial discrimination as a key determinant of mental health.
  • Improve mental health data and research.

In light of this, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa  Director of the PAN American Health Organization (PAHO) called leaders and decision makers to take action, making sure mental health is placed at the top of political agendas and woven into all sectors and policies to better address the growing issue especially after the pandemic.

PAHO expressed that even though mental health has historically been a significant source of disability and mortality in the Americas, responsible for almost one-third of all years lived with a disability, the pandemic increased the risk factors including, grief and loss, unemployment and financial insecurity, and this was emphasized by Barbosa speaking at the launch. He maintained that COVID-19 severely impacted the mental health of the population of the Americas; hence the importance of the recommendations in the report.

In addition to the increase in mental health issues, the preponderance of those with a condition do not receive the necessary care whether that be therapy or medication.

PAHO reports that in 2020 more than 80 percent of those with a severe mental health condition, psychosis included, did not receive treatment.

This partly due to a lack of access to services to help with mental health and Barbosa expressed this is due to a variety of factors before the pandemic including: “low investment, only 3% of countries’ health budgets are allocated to mental health; a reliance on long-stay hospitalization when the majority of mental health problems can be resolved in the community; a chronic shortage of trained mental health personnel; and reduced access to services for those living in vulnerable situations.”

Considering the report as well as the facts highlighted, investing in mental health is key to bring about the best result in mitigating its impact on people of the Americas, and Dr. Epsy Campbell Barr, Chair of the Commission and former Vice-President of Costa Rica, spoke to this saying, “Investing in mental health is crucial to promote equitable and sustainable human development for all to live with well-being and dignity,” further fingering that mental health is a public issue, not private, which requires urgent and immediate attention.

In continuation, Dr. Nestor Mendez, Co-Chair of the Commission and Assistant Director General of the Organization of American States, expressed that mental health is now in their hands, that is the leaders in the region, to change how they approach handling it.

PAHO made reference to mental health statistics throughout the Americas, further highlighting the importance of addressing it in the best way possible.

Some of the statistics say:

  • In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, major depressive disorders increased by 35 percent  and anxiety disorders by 32 percent .
  • 65 percent of countries reported disruptions to essential mental health and substance use services in 2020. This number has decreased to 14 percent  in early 2023.
  • 8 our of 10 individuals with a severe mental health condition do not receive treatment
  • Suicide claims the lives of nearly 100,000 people each year.
  • The regional age-adjusted suicide rate increased by 17 percent between 2000 – 2019.
  • Depressive and anxiety disorders are the third and fourth leading causes of disability.

Mental health should not be taken lightly and should be treated like any other illness as it is in fact an illness and is just as dangerous as visually physically conditions.

Caribbean News

PRIME MINISTER OF THE BAHAMAS CALLS FOR COLLABORATION AT CANTO 24  

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The Honorable Philip Davis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas.

MIAMI, Florida (July 8th, 2024) – Prime Minister Philip Davis of The Bahamas delivered a compelling keynote address at CANTO’s 39th annual Conference and Tradeshow Exhibition, sponsored by C&W Communications. He called for Caribbean leaders to unite in leveraging digital innovation for regional progress.

PM Davis was welcomed to the podium by Inge Smidts, CEO of C&W Communications, who provided brief remarks opening the day’s activities. Smidts shared C&W’s efforts in leading digital innovation and connectivity solutions and also in bridging the digital divide and fostering digital inclusion across the region.

The Prime Minister began by asking for a moment of solidarity following Hurricane Beryl’s destruction in Grenada, Barbados, St. Vincent, the Windward Islands, and Jamaica. A number of delegates from the affected countries were unable to attend as they continue to work through restoration efforts. Davis recalled his country’s experience noting, “The Bahamas remembers Dorian’s fury all too well. Our hearts and prayers go out to our Caribbean brothers, and sisters and may those affected find strength and may the coming months be calmer than forecasts predict.”

The Prime Minister highlighted the region’s technological evolution, citing The Bahamas’ implementation of e-government platforms for citizen services, and the introduction of its Sand Dollar e-currency. He stressed the importance of digital skills education to ensure widespread technological literacy and prevent marginalization.

PM Davis also emphasized a number of challenges facing the region. He noted that education and training in digital skills was critical in ensuring people across the Caribbean are not left behind. “It is clear that technology is a powerful tool for progress and economic growth, however the true potential of this tool can only be realized if our citizens are equipped with the knowledge and skills to use if effectively. The biggest missed opportunity we face is having advanced technology at our disposal but lacking the widespread literacy to leverage it fully,” Davis continued.

Addressing the transformative power of technology, PM Davis said: “Technology is not merely a tool for economic growth, it is a powerful catalyst for social change. Our focus should be on how these innovations can enhance the quality of life for out citizens, bridging the gaps and opening opportunities that were previously unimaginable.”

C&W Communications through its charitable foundation, the CWCF has launched its JUMP social assistance program in response to this. Currently the JUMP program, launched in Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, and St. Lucia provides opportunities to scores of families who would not ordinarily be able to internet access.

Through a public private partnership with the Cable & Wireless Charitable Foundation and governments in the region, the most vulnerable customers are able to benefit from subsidized internet access, a free laptop and eight weeks of digital skills training for the entire household. The JUMP program is set to be officially launched in August in The Bahamas.

The address concluded with the Prime Minister congratulating CANTO on its 39th birthday, officially announcing The Bahamas as the host for CANTO’s 40th Conference in 2025, marking a significant milestone for the organization and the region’s commitment to digital advancement.

Over 600 persons are attending the Annual Tradeshow and Exhibition which runs from July 7-10 at the JW Marriott Hotel in Miami, Florida. C&W Communications once again serving as headline sponsor for the event.

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Caribbean News

C&W Communications committed to rebuilding after storms  

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Inge Smidts, Chief Executive Officer, C&W Communications.

MIAMI, Florida (July 8th, 2024) – As the region continues to grapple with the effects of climate change, leading telecoms provider C&W Communications has reaffirmed its commitment to work alongside impacted communities.

Hurricane Beryl recently caused devastating damage in several Caribbean islands, and storms of a similar magnitude to the unusually fierce early season hurricane are expected to become more common.

“We have always believed that our role extends beyond providing telecommunications services. We are a lifeline, a vital link that keeps people connected to their loved ones, to emergency services, and to the information they need in times of crisis,” said Inge Smidts, Chief Executive Officer, C&W Communications.

“I had the profound experience of visiting several of the islands that were hardest hit. The destruction is immense, with homes, businesses, and vital infrastructure severely damaged or destroyed. However, what stood out most was the incredible resilience and spirit of the people, so our commitment to the Caribbean must go beyond connectivity.”

Smidts was speaking at CANTO’s ongoing 39th Annual Trade Exhibition and Conference in Miami.

The theme of this year’s event is ‘Towards a Sustainable Digital Economy’ and C&W Communications, the operators of Flow, Flow Business, C&W Business, and BTC, has returned as the headline sponsor for the region’s premier telecoms conference.

“This is an opportunity for us to act as a catalyst for change, and I urge all regional telecom stakeholders to join us in supporting our impacted communities. This is our moment, and together, we can leverage our resources, expertise, and networks to provide much-needed relief and support,” added Smidts.

“Let us collaborate to develop innovative solutions that can withstand the challenges of natural disasters and ensure the sustainability of our digital economy – one that is resilient, inclusive, and prepared for the future.”

The annual event brings together regional heads of state and government, along with regulators, telecom operators, and other key stakeholders to network, build alliances, review policy, and share best practices as it relates to the regional telecoms sector.

C&W Communications will host several discussions and events during the conference to shine the spotlight on important industry topics including digital sustainability and education, cybersecurity in the digital era, sustainable infrastructure development, investment challenges in digital sustainability, strategies for equitable access to broadband services, and empowering an inclusive digital economy.

Featured company speakers include Inge Smidts, Chief Executive Officer; Kerry Scott, Senior Vice President, Chief People Officer, Liberty Latin America (the parent company of C&W Communications); John Winter, Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, LLA; Sameer Bhatti, Chief Executive Officer, Bahamas Telecommunications Company Limited (BTC); Nicolas Collette, Chief Commercial Officer, Business Markets; and Sebastian Kaplan, Vice President-Government Affairs, Liberty Latin America; and many others.

CANTO is a non-profit association made up of operators, organizations, companies, and individuals primarily focused on leading the information and communications technology (ICT) sector across the Caribbean region and the Americas.

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Caribbean News

Telecoms and Climate Change in the spotlight at CANTO

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MIAMI, Florida (July 8th, 2024) – Following the devastating impacts of Hurricane Beryl in the Caribbean, the critical importance of robust telecommunications infrastructure and reliable data access was brought into sharp focus at the opening of CANTO’s 39th Annual Trade Exhibition and Conference in Miami.

Daryl Vaz

“The Caribbean is on the front lines of the global climate crisis, facing significant and immediate impacts that threaten the region’s environment, economy, and way of life. The Caribbean’s resilience and adaptive capacity are vital in the face of climate change, and it is imperative that we take proactive and coordinated action,” said Daryl Vaz, Jamaica’s Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport.

Vaz delivered the feature address at CANTO’s opening ceremony on Sunday days after Beryl made landfall in Jamaica.

“Resilience and adaptive capacity are vital in the face of climate change. By embracing innovative solutions, fostering collaboration, and committing to sustainable practices, we can safeguard our islands for future generations. If we really want to survive and thrive, the time for talk is over and now is the time for action. We must walk the walk,” he said.

The theme of this year’s event is ‘Towards a Sustainable Digital Economy’ and C&W Communications, the operators of Flow, Flow Business, C&W Business, and BTC, has returned as the headline sponsor for the region’s premier telecoms conference.

“As we gather in the wake of Hurricane Beryl, we are reminded of the immense challenges that natural disasters pose to our region, but also of the resilience and solidarity that define the Caribbean spirit,” said Marilyn Sealy, Senior Director, Head of Communications, C&W Communications.

“We are proud to be a part of an industry that provides the backbone for growth and innovation, and we remain committed to supporting the region, and at the same time the critical work that CANTO has undertaken over the years.”

The annual event brings together regional heads of state and government, along with regulators, telecom operators, and other key stakeholders to network, build alliances, review policy, and share best practices as it relates to the regional telecoms sector.

“As a leading provider of digital connectivity solutions across the region, this year’s theme resonates deeply with the core values and mission of C&W Communications,” added Sealy.

Marilyn Sealy

“We recognize the transformational role that technology plays in driving sustainable development, social inclusion, and economic growth, and it is our firm belief that by leveraging the power of connectivity, we can unlock new possibilities and create a brighter future for all.”

C&W Communications specifically will host several discussions and events during the conference to shine the spotlight important industry topics including digital sustainability and education, cybersecurity in the digital era, sustainable infrastructure development, investment challenges in digital sustainability, strategies for equitable access to broadband services, and empowering an inclusive digital economy.

Featured company speakers include Inge Smidts, Chief Executive Officer; Kerry Scott, Senior Vice President, Chief People Officer, Liberty Latin America (the parent company of C&W Communications); John Winter, Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, LLA; Sameer Bhatti, Chief Executive Officer, Bahamas Telecommunications Company Limited (BTC); Nicolas Collette, Chief Commercial Officer, Business Markets; and Sebastian Kaplan, Vice President-Government Affairs, Liberty Latin America; and many others.

CANTO is a non-profit association made up of operators, organizations, companies, and individuals primarily focused on leading the information and communications technology (ICT) sector across the Caribbean region and the Americas.

 

  • Our very own Marilyn Sealy, Senior Director, Head of Communications, delivered the Sponsor’s Address, while Daryl Vaz, Jamaica’s Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport, delivered the Featured Address (photos attached).

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