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Ministry of Health appears at Appropriations Committee 

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Dana Malcolm
Staff Writer 

With an allocation of $93.1 million in the draft budget tabled by Washington Misick, TCI Premier, the Ministry of Health and Human Services recently sat before the Appropriations Committee to explain why they needed the money and if they were getting enough.

Representatives included Renessa Williams and Temorah Howell Robinson, Deputy Permanent Secretaries; Nadia Astwood, Chief Medical Officer; Lyndon Brooks Head of Policy and Planning and Milo Forbes, CFO.

According to the budget the money was divvied up as follows:

Policy Planning and Administrative Support – $465.476,327
Dental Department – $1,493,204
Primary Health Care Unit – $3,959,254
Health Promotion and Advocacy – $946,218
Public and Environmental Health – $10,816,190
Mental Health and Substance Abuse – $2,717,185
Special Needs Unit – $2,397,497
National Public Health Laboratory – $938,878
Emergency Medical Service (Ambulance) – $2,491,784
Contract Management Unit – $1,005,185
National Epidemiology and Research Unit – $552,388
Health Emergency Management Unit – $362,538

Executives and heads of department explained to the public the reasoning behind several of the allocations

The Environmental Health Department was a particular focus that money has been allotted to, especially with the prevalence of Dengue in the region. Entomologists are being brought in to research what kind of mosquitoes are in the country and how that could affect residents.

As for the hospitals, a management company has been onboarded to help oversee the contract for the TCI hospitals. Astwood maintained that the government is aggressively recruiting, and the new pay scales that were recently announced should give them some leverage and create interest in the positions.

Increases were recorded in areas like long-term care and HIV treatment and care. HIV allocations increased this budget cycle, from $108,000 to $150,000. Representatives of the Ministry of Health and Human Services speaking with the Committee said the increase was due to an expansion of the programs being undertaken. Representatives indicated 550 individuals are enrolled in the National AIDS Programme which covers both HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

Adolescent health policies are also being developed to make sure that even without the presence of their parents, young people can get care, CMO Astwood maintained that this was a delicate process though, and would need time for theme policy to be created with care.

Some other items budgeted for this year includes:

  • The National Health Insurance Program
  • Cemetery assistants for each island
  • Continuation of work at the Providenciales Landfill
  • Training of street cleaners
  • Mobile Clinic for Blue Hills to serve the Community even as their clinic is upgraded
    Over $600,000 for ambulances as the Ministry is attempting to replace the entire fleet across the country with that allocation, a necessary expenditure, the Ministry says, as the fleet is to be rotated every five years.
  • Software solutions to digitize departments
  • Consultancies including a nutrition coordination consultant and aged care consultant
  • Development of a training program for nurses dealing with the elderly
  • Another incinerator for Providenciales due to heavy demand.
  • Long term care
  • Ante-natal care
  • Waste disposal

Unfortunately, one area that is still struggling is dental clinics, Dr. Janice Barron, chief dental surgeon, explained to the committee that while there was increased staff, there were some programs that had been held back by the cabinet.

A new Strategic Plan created with the help of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), incorporating all departments is what the Ministry of Health is focusing on. It is to be launched in the month of May.

Caribbean News

TCI Sport delegation visits the Cayman Islands and Barbados with key sport leaders

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TCI Sports Commission delegation traveled to the Cayman Islands and Barbados to visit with key Sport leaders. The TCI delegation included the Sports Commission Director, Mr. Jarrett Forbes, Deputy Director, Mr. Alvin Parker, and Facility Manager for Providenciales, Mr. Darian Forbes. The aim of the travel was to visit major facilities, with priorities being pool facilities, and discuss sport development strategies.

The team had the pleasure of being hosted by the Deputy Chief Officer for Sport, Dr. Dalton Walter, and the Director of Sports, Mr. Kurt Hyde in the Cayman Islands; who facilitated the facility tours and shared valuable information on Sports Development. Meetings were held with Deputy Chief Officer Ms. Joan West and Technical Director for the Cayman Islands Aquatics Sport Association, Mr. Jacky Pellerin, on the Cayman Islands’ new 50-meter and 25 meter 10 lanes Mrytha pool facility, as well as with Ms. Shakeina Bush from the National Olympic Office on National Federation development and funding opportunities. The Sports Commission delegation was also grateful for the courtesy call with the Minister of Sport for the Cayman Islands, Hon. Isaac Rankine, and the Chief Officer Ms. Teresa Echenique.

During the Barbados leg of the exploratory travel, the Sports Commission team was hosted by the Director of the National Sports Council, Mr. Neil Murrell, and the Assistant Director of Sports, Mr. Ryan Toppin. The TCI team toured the National Sport Council facilities and visited the Barbados National Olympic Association. Significant to the TCI’s plan to develop an aquatic center, the TCI Sports Commission visited the Barbados Aquatic Sport Association and met with former National Olympic Academy Director, Mr. Dave Farmer, and the President and Second Vice President of the Barbados Swim Association, Mr. Robert Armstrong and Mr. Nicholas Mathis. Insights were shared regarding swimming pool design, development and maintenance as well as pool programming strategies to ensure the growth and sustainability of swimming in the islands.

The TCI delegation also visited other stadium facilities such as Track and Field, Football and Cricket, and other major facilities in Basketball and Boxing. The TCI Sport Commission officials had great discussions with both the Cayman Islands and Barbados sports officials surrounding the development of coaches, athlete development pathways, and strengthening relationships with National Sport Governing Bodies.

Director of Sports, Mr. Jarrett Forbes, said, “We were very grateful for the hospitality and support extended by our Caribbean colleagues. Their support affirmed the commitment and unity among the Caribbean community to develop sports in the region.”

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SIDS drowning in debt as sea levels rise

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

June 7, 2024 – United Nations (UN) Secretary General, His Excellency Antonio Guterres has said that international financing is the “fuel for sustainable development” but small island States are running low on the funding.

Addressing  day two of the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS24), in Caribbean twin island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, the Secretary General said while financing is low, the countries are drowning in debt and rising sea levs due to Climate Change.

“You are leading by example, but too often you are facing closed doors, from institutions and, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic and other global happenings have negatively impacted vulnerable economies, and “battered by a Climate catastrophe they did not create”, he told the gathering.

The SIDS countries are paying more to service their own debt than they invest in healthcare and education, the UN chief warned, leaving the nations unable to make the investments they need to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Many of the States are classified as middle-income, shutting them out of the debt support reserved for the poorest nations, the UN Chief argued that vital actions are needed from international financial institutions, in addition to an immediate SDG stimulus for the SIDS nations.

He outlined that the debt burden should be relieved, by providing access to effective relief mechanisms, including pauses in payments during times of economic volatility, while also transforming lending practices by changing the rules on concessional finance to lower borrowing costs. “You cannot finance education and health with 15-year loans. Let us make SIDS a real priority in everything we do,” he said.

Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley said there was simply no political will on the part of the developed world to make the financial system work fairly,  as she enquired  how many  of those leaders have turned up in Antigua. “We are not seen”, she said, adding that “we continue to be serfs” when it comes to the power imbalance.

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are in the crossfires of multiple crises: Climate Change, the economic and social repercussions of COVID-19, and a crisis of debt. The pandemic hugely impacted all island nations, especially those dependent on tourism. Global lockdowns left large holes in islands’ coffers and severely set back efforts to invest in the SDGs.

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Transcultura lauded at SIDS gathering, wins Partnership Awards 2024

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

June 7, 2024 – The United Nations (UN) programme, Transcultura, which seeks to integrate Caribbean, and the European Union through Culture and Creativity, has been selected to receive the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Partnerships Awards 2024.

Operate under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), it is the largest programme in Latin American and the Caribbean, and is a four-year initiative for young cultural professionals, artists, and entrepreneurs from 17 Caribbean countries.

Implemented in three languages, it provides them with opportunities for their future, in the region and in Europe, through training, support to entrepreneurship, networking and mobility programmes. With 15 million euros (16.5 million US dollars) provided by the European Union (EU), Transcultura is also the most significant EU investment in culture in the region.

In four years, over 1,600 young people from 17 Caribbean SIDS have benefited from the programme, with more than 50% being women. Through a combination of in-person and online courses, 600 cultural professionals have been trained. It has also facilitated cooperative cultural exchanges involving over 200 organisations from the Caribbean and the European EU. 

The programme resulted in the establishment of the Caribbean Cultural Training Hub, which fostered synergies between key educational institutions in the region. The award’s jury recognised the transformative impact of the Transcultura programme, empowering young people in the region to become agents of change and development in their communities through culture and creativity.

It was established by UN Member States in 2021 to recognise the efforts of the best and most notable partnerships in the implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action Pathway (SAMOA Pathway). The goal is to inspire others to embark on such partnerships with SIDS.

Transcultura programme leverages the rich cultural diversity of the Caribbean as a driving force of sustainable development through cooperation and exchange within the Caribbean and between the Caribbean and the EU. It aims to create professional opportunities for young people in the Cultural and Creative Industries.

Beneficiary countries are: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

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