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Sandals Foundation, Ministry of Health and Human Services and Great Shape! provide oral health education to schools in TCI



PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands, November 22, 2023 – More than 2000 students from 13 schools in Turks and Caicos Islands were given a greater chance at fighting and preventing cavities, after the Sandals Foundation, Ministry of Health and Human Services Dental Unit and Great Shape! Inc, brought their school-based oral health education preventative programme to the schools recently.

“Oral health is a very important part of overall proper health, and even more critical for children as they develop healthy habits. We must ensure that the proper dental hygiene is taught to children as early as possible, and where necessary, provide preventative services such as sealants to help prevent future damage to their teeth. Our partnership with Great Shape! Inc has, for the past decade, brought health care services to hundreds of thousands across the Caribbean, and that is something we are proud of,” said executive director of the Sandals Foundation, Heidi Clarke.

Principal of the Enid Capron Primary School, Sophia Garland while expressing gratitude for the new information being shared to her students highlighted the long term benefits for the children.

Said Garland: “Every student was able to benefit in a tangible way from the information and materials being shared on improving their oral health. The different professionals shared with them basic habits that will ensure that they can enjoy a healthier oral lifestyle. The parents have expressed their satisfaction with the new information that their children received from the volunteers with helping them improve their oral health habits.”

In addition to the oral health education, each student received toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste, dental floss and lessons on how to properly care for their teeth. Ministry of Health dental nurse Kenesha Lewis shared her satisfaction with the quality information that the students received.

“The students were also taught how eating certain unhealthy foods, improper brushing and lack of flossing could damage their teeth and affect them in the future. As a team we were able to impact students in all the government primary schools in Providenciales which we are sure will help in the better care of their oral health as they get older,” Lewis shared.

Dr. Susan Delpeche, Dental Surgeon of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government Dental Clinic noted, “This type of outreach has been phenomenal, considering that access to proper dental care is not affordable for many of our students. The volunteers are all great individuals, and our hearts swell with appreciation for the work they have done. The infusion of brighter smiles brought about by Great Shape! Inc 1000 Smiles and the Sandals Foundation has been a wonderful experience.”

Dr. Suzanne Baptista, her husband Phillip and their two sons, first-time volunteers to Great Shape! were eager to share with the students at the different schools. Though the children were missing physical school sessions, they were engaged through the virtual learning platforms and had the chance to share with children their own ages, the value of proper oral health.

“The team of volunteers here are very respectful and professional and the next generation of volunteers who came were amazing. I just love them all. Before I begin a presentation in each class I would explain why it is important to practice proper oral hygiene and how to prevent cavities. The end result is always the best. They offer the most precious hugs and smiles,” said Dr. Baptista.

Kris Ann Foster, grade 4 student at the Thelma Lightbourne Primary school shared, “The presentation from these volunteers was very informative for the children at my school. They included us in their presentations and demonstrated to us how to take care of our oral health. We have been learning this in our classes but the way that the dentists shared it, made it more fun and easier to understand.”

During the two weeks, 42 volunteers shared in the oral health education programme at the schools. The message of good oral care was shared with all classes at the schools. The Great Shape! Inc Programme was launched in Jamaica in 2003, led by Great Shape! Inc Executive Director Joseph Wright. “Our project is a preventative one. Our mission is to go into the schools to reduce or prevent cavities, and having educators and dentists sharing with the children is a proven and cost-effective way to do that,” Wright said.

The Sandals Foundation and Great Shape! Inc partnership has provided eye care and dental services to over 300,000 people in Jamaica, St Lucia, Grenada, and Turks and Caicos.

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Caribbean News

Irish Humanitarian Organization in Haiti – Address Hunger Crisis and More



Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer


#Haiti#Crisis#ConcernWorldwide, February 2oth, 2024 – Seeing that Haiti’s humanitarian crisis worsens day by day with too many Haitians, hundreds of thousands, edging the line to severe deprivation of food, Ireland’s largest aid and humanitarian agency Concern Worldwide is addressing major food insecurity. 

 The organization in a release said “ “We are providing food assistance, via electronic vouchers to help families purchase food from local vendors so that they can feed their families and prevent malnutrition in children as the situation worsens.”

They are also working to provide Haitians with clean water and sanitation as the waterborne disease Cholera continues to threaten lives, killing more than 1,150 people in 2023.

And, they provide referrals for cases of sexual and gender based violence in Port au Prince.

Concern is supported by funding from USAID, receiving €2.1 million (euros) to help over 30 thousand people in the hunger crisis as well as €1 million (euros) yearly from the Irish Government for its work in Haiti.

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How to protect against HIV 



Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer



#TurksandCaicos, February 15, 2024 – HIV/AIDS has killed more than 40 million people globally since it first appeared in the human population in 1959 according to the World Health Organization WHO and even though there are effective treatments there is no cure making prevention practices a top priority for vulnerable groups.

In recent months claims have emerged of rising cases locally creating concern in some Turks and Caicos residents.  The Ministry of Health has remained silent on the issue and has not published relevant statistics despite repeated queries from Magnetic Media.

Given the continued presence of the virus, individuals are still at risk from infection. In fact the WHO says in 2022, when 630,000 people died from HIV-related causes and 1.3 million people acquired HIV.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus behind AIDS, the most advanced form of HIV.

The virus spreads through the body fluids of an infected person, including blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal fluids. It is not spread by kisses, hugs or sharing food.

With this in mind there are several steps that residents can take to protect themselves including

  • Using condoms during sex
  • Limiting sexual partners
  • Being tested regularly
  • avoiding sharing needles, syringes and other injecting equipment
  • Using personal protective gear when dealing with bodily fluids

Vulnerable populations can be administered Pre Exposure Prophylaxis which work to prevent infection and Post Exposure Prophylaxis which can prevent the virus from taking hold.

An HIV diagnosis is not a death sentence.  In 2024 HIV can be treated and prevented with antiretroviral therapy (ART). These drugs strengthen the immune system which HIV weakens significantly.

Still the WHO encourages residents to take preventative action.

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CARPHA: Take Action to Avoid the Harmful Effects of Saharan Dust



February 16, 2024 – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is urging persons to protect themselves against adverse health effects of a Saharan dust plume, which has covered many parts of the Caribbean.

The Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) in a Dust Bulletin dated February 9th, 2024 stated, “it is highly likely that particulate matter levels will be above the 24-hour outdoor air quality guidelines” as established by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr Joy St John, Executive Director, CARPHA, explained “Saharan dust worsens air quality and increases the levels of particulate matter in the air.  This can be hazardous, especially to small children, older adults and people with underlying lung conditions and chronic cardiopulmonary diseases”.  Dr St John added, “Saharan dust can also worsen the health symptoms of those who suffer from asthma, allergies and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)”.

In light of the poor air quality levels, CARPHA is encouraging persons to take steps to avoid the harmful effects of Saharan dust. These include:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible and when outdoors, wear a dust mask (eg. KN95)
  • Utilise a HEPA filter indoors to purify air in individual rooms
  • Persons who use medications for pulmonary conditions should carry them at all times and use as prescribed
  • At the first sign of difficulty while breathing, seek professional medical advice immediately
  • For less severe symptoms, standard allergy medications such as antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays may alleviate symptoms

For more information, please see excerpts from the attached CIMH Dust Bulletin.

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