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Dr. james Hospedales

CARPHA says CRS will help improve patient care in the Caribbean

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Apr 10, CMC – The Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) says the establishment of a Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS) will improve conditions for patients in the region to receive safe, efficacious, high quality drugs.

“Access to safe, efficacious and good quality drugs is a human right which CARPHA as the regional public health organisation is committed to facilitating,” CARPHA executive director told a Capacity-Building workshop on the Regulation of Medicines.

CARPHA, in collaboration with the Guyana-based Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat and the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization (WHO/PAHO), has established a CRS.

Dr. james Hospedales
Dr. James Hospedales

Hospedales explained that the CRS will focus on providing regulatory assurance to essential generic medicines for the region.

“Through the CRS, CARPHA will be able to help countries perform functions such as reviewing, approving and monitoring medicines, in a timely manner, allowing patients faster access to quality drugs,” he said, adding that it would also help to reduce cost of medicines to consumers and the health system, thereby improving accessibility and affordability.

With only five CARICOM countries currently conducting a review of safety, quality, and efficacy of drugs, PAHO Country Representative for Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Bernadette Theodore-Gandi, emphasised the need for strong regulatory systems for medicines.

She said that limited capacity in the regulation of medicines can have several negative results, including the proliferation of substandard and falsified medicines, warning this “can injure and kill people”.

The CRS is a new value added service provided by CARPHA and endorsed by the CARICOM Ministers of Health.  It is not intended to replace already established national regulatory authorities, but rather to augment and support them.  It will also coordinate reporting and analysis on medicine safety and quality issues within CARICOM.

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Barbadians warned about taking unproven and unscientific cures for health problems

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Mar 22, CMC – Barbados health authorities have expressed concern about a number of advertisements appearing in the media which promote “unproven and unscientific” cures for cancer, diabetes and other chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs)

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John, says while the Ministry of Health supports people’s right to explore alternative medical treatments, it is important that people exercise caution and not be swayed by “untried and untested” products which promised “a quick fix” to their health issues.

medicineShe advised that persons continue to consult their medical practitioners and follow their counsel before making decisions which will impact their health.

She warned that failure to do this could result in serious medical consequences which also often proved very expensive.

Dr. St. John stated that the Paramedical Professions Council was established by the Barbados government in 1975 to provide for the registration of members of recognised professions allied to health.

“The Council regulates safe practices within the paramedical professions, and paramedical professionals are given a certificate of registration which the public may ask to see,” the Chief Medical Officer said.

The Council also handles queries related to paramedical professions and these may be addressed to the body in writing.

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corn beef

More Caribbean countries place ban on corn beef and meat products from Brazil

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Mar 22, CMC – The number of Caribbean Community (CARICOM)countries placing a temporary ban on the importation of corn beef or meat products from Brazil increased by two with Barbados and the Bahamas joining their CARICOM partners from Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.

The Bahamas government said that it is aware of the meat scandal unfolding in Brazil relative to food inspectors taking bribes to allow sales of rotten and salmonella-tainted meats and that the South American country has suspended exports from 21 meat-processing units.

corn beefIt said to safeguard the Bahamian population it is placing a “precautionary ban of meat imports from Brazil.

“Until further notice, no permits for the importation of processed meat products from Brazil will be issued. This includes corned beef as well as other beef products and beef by-products.

“The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources will continue to monitor this issue over the next 60 days and should we be satisfied that imports from Brazil be resumed, it would be with the following proviso that beef must be slaughtered and processed at an approved Government abattoir and processing facility”.

In addition the Bahamas said there would be need for a Sanitary certificate to accompany all imports from Brazil an inspection of all batch containers be done at the Port of Entry, an import permit must be sought by all importers from the relevant Government Agency and a registry must be compiled of all importers of beef and beef products from Brazil.

Meanwhile, Barbados has implemented its own temporary ban with Senior Veterinary Officer, Dr. Mark Trotman, indicating that the ban had been effected pending further investigation as to whether any of the product had come into the island.

He is also advising retailers to withdraw all Brazilian meat products from their shelves and warned consumers not to purchase corned beef or other canned meats manufactured in Brazil until the investigation was completed.

 “As part of our investigations, samples of product are being collected and will be analysed by the Veterinary Services Laboratory and the Government Analytical Services Laboratory,” he added.

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CARPHA signs MOUs with Guyana and OECS

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar 15, CMC – The Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency Caribbean Regulatory System (CARPHA/CRS) says it has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with Guyana and the sub-regional Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

The CARPHA/CRS is a new value-added service to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states to help them review and monitor the efficacy, safety, and quality of medicines sold within their borders.

medicineThe initiative aims to fast-track the approval of known high-quality essential generic medicines, through faster review timelines, and by giving companies a single portal of entry to CARICOM markets of roughly 17 million people.

CARPHA said CARICOM states face capacity challenges in regulation of medicines, including having large backlogs and wait times for product approvals, and limited to no quality/safety monitoring of medicines in use by patients.

“The signing of the MOU with the Government of Guyana allows for stronger engagement with the CARPHA/CRS, including on sharing information and processing decisions.

“The MOU with OECS/PPS is important because many in the OECS group do not have regulatory authorities of their own, and the MOU allows the OECS/PPS to both procure CRS recommended products, and to share quality/safety related information,” CARPHA/CRS said.

It said further, the OECS/PPS MOU gives industry using the CRS access to the OECS/PPS pharmaceutical procurement market with an annual value of an estimated eight million US dollars.

The OECS groups the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts-Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.

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Narcoitics report

US names a number of Caribbean countries as major drug-transit countries

WASHINGTON, Mar 3, CMC – The United States Friday named several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries as major illicit drug producing and  major drug-transit countries with some regional countries also being major money laundering countries,

The US Department of State’s “International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR),” notes that the Bahamas, Belize, Haiti and Jamaica, are among 22 countries worldwide considered major drug producing or major drug transit countries.

Narcoitics report“Haiti remains a transit point for cocaine originating in South America and marijuana originating in Jamaica, en route to the United States and other markets. This traffic takes advantage of Haiti’s severely under-patrolled maritime borders, particularly on the northern and southern coasts.

“Haiti is not a significant producer of illicit drugs for export, although there is cultivation of cannabis for local consumption. Haiti’s primarily subsistence-level economy does not provide an environment conducive to high levels of domestic drug use,” Washington noted.

The report notes that Jamaica remains the largest Caribbean supplier of marijuana to the United States and local Caribbean islands.

“Although cocaine and synthetic drugs are not produced locally, Jamaica is a transit point for drugs trafficked from South America to North America and other international markets.”

Washington noted that in 2016, drug production and trafficking were enabled and accompanied by organized crime, domestic and international gang activity, and police and government corruption.

The report noted that illicit drugs are also a means of exchange for illegally-trafficked firearms entering the country, exacerbating Jamaica’s security situation.

“Drugs flow from and through Jamaica by maritime conveyance, air freight, human couriers, and private aircraft. Marijuana and cocaine are trafficked from and through Jamaica into other Caribbean nations, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

“Jamaica is a transit point for cocaine moving from Central America to the United States, and some drug trafficking organizations exchange Jamaican marijuana for cocaine. Factors that contribute to drug trafficking include the country’s convenient geographic position as a way point for illicit drugs trafficked from Latin America; its lengthy, rugged, and difficult-to patrol coastline; a high volume of tourist travel and airline traffic; its status as a major trans-shipment hub for maritime containerized cargo; inadequate educational and employment opportunities for at-risk youth who engage in crime; and a struggling economy that encourages marijuana cultivation in rural areas.”

The report also named the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, the Eastern Caribbean, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, as major money laundering countries.

“A major money laundering country is defined by statute as one “whose financial institutions engage in currency transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from international narcotics trafficking.”

But the report noted that the complex nature of money laundering transactions makes it difficult in many cases to distinguish the proceeds of narcotics trafficking from the proceeds of other serious crime. “Moreover, financial institutions engaging in transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds of other serious crime are vulnerable to narcotics-related money laundering.”

Washington said that this year’s list of major money laundering countries recognizes this relationship by including all countries and other jurisdictions, whose financial institutions engage in transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from all serious crime.

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St. Vincent bans Styrofoam products

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb 7, CMC – The St. Vincent and the Grenadines government has announced a ban on the importation of Styrofoam products.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves delivering the EC$976.4 million (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) budget to Parliament on Monday night, also announced the removal of value added tax (VAT) on biodegradable packaging and food containers.

styrofoam“This measure is intended to lower the costs of these environmentally positive substitutes for plastics, including Styrofoam, and reduce the adverse effects that plastics have on our environment,” he said.

The new measure goes into effect on May 1.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines join several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that have banned Styrofoam which is made of fossil fuels and synthetic chemicals, which may leach if they come in contact with hot, greasy or acidic food.

Environmentalists say while Styrofoam keep coffee hot, they may also add an unwanted dose of toxins to the drink and even animals are affected by the product which is indigestible.

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Homeland Security to comply with orders not to deport travelers

CNN – Politics

Story highlights

  • Judge grants stay for valid visa-holders to remain in US
  • Among those held at JFK were two Iraqis with ties to US military

Does the travel ban affect you, your friends or loved ones? We want to hear your stories. Tag #CNNiReport on social or use WhatsApp +44 7435 939 154 to share stories.

(CNN)The Department of Homeland Security said on Sunday it will comply with judicial orders not to deport detained travelers.

This comes after a federal judge in New York granted an emergency stay Saturday night for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries who have already arrived in the US and those who are in transit, and who hold valid visas, ruling they cannot be removed from the US.
That move limited part of President Donald Trump’s executive order barring citizens from those countries from entering the US for the next 90 days.
Similar legal rulings were made in Virginia and Washington state after the New York ruling was made.
“The Department of Homeland Security will comply with judicial orders; faithfully enforce our immigration laws, and implement the president’s Executive Orders to ensure that those entering the United States do not pose a threat to our country or the American people,” the department said.
On Saturday evening, the ACLU argued in a federal court in New York for a nationwide stay that would block the deportation of all people stranded in US airports under what the group called “President Trump’s new Muslim ban.”
US District Judge Ann Donnelly granted the stay.
“The petitioners have a strong likelihood of success in establishing that the removal of the petitioner and other similarly situated violates their due process and equal protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution,” Donnelly wrote in her decision.
“There is imminent danger that, absent the stay of removal, there will be substantial and irreparable injury to refugees, visa-holders, and other individuals from nations subject to the January 27, 2017, Executive Order.”

Trump: Travel ban working out very nicely


trump speaks on executive order travel ban nr_00001307



Trump: Travel ban working out very nicely 01:07
The civil rights group is representing dozens of travelers held at John F. Kennedy International Airport Friday and Saturday, including two Iraqis with ties to the US military who had been granted visas to enter the United States.
The ruling does not necessarily mean the people being held at airports across the US are going to be released, said Zachary Manfredi, from Yale’s Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, who helped draft the emergency stay motion.
“The judge’s order is that they (lawful visa/green card holders) not be removed from the US — it doesn’t immediately order that they be released from detention,” he told CNN.
“We are hoping that CBP (Customs and Border Patrol), now that they no longer have a reason to detain them, will release them. But it is also possible they could be transferred to (other) detention facilities.”
“We are getting the order to as many CBP officers as possible right now,” he added.
The United States denied entry to 109 travelers heading to the country at the time the ruling was signed, a Department of Homeland Security official said. The agency would not say how many of them were sent already home and how many were detained.
ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero praised the ruling, saying “our courts today worked as they should as bulwarks against government abuse or unconstitutional policies and orders. On week one, Donald Trump suffered his first loss in court.”
Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who argued the case, said the ruling “preserves the status quo and ensures that people who have been granted permission to be in this country are not illegally removed off U.S. soil.”

Former adviser defends Trump's immigration ban


Former adviser defends Trump's immigration ban



Former adviser defends Trump’s immigration ban 03:53

Lawsuit is first challenge to executive order

The class-action lawsuit is the first legal challenge to Trump’s controversial executive order, which indefinitely suspends admissions for Syrian refugees and limits the flow of other refugees into the United States by instituting what the President has called “extreme vetting” of immigrants.
The two Iraqis, Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkaleq Alshawi, had been released by Saturday night. But lawyers for other detained travelers said in a court filing that “dozens and dozens” of individuals remained held at JFK.
Similar legal actions had been initiated in other states..
A federal court in Washington state issued a stay forbidding travelers being detained there from being sent back to their home country.
A federal court in Virginia has issued a temporary restraining order saying several dozen permanent residents returning from trips abroad should have access to lawyers while they are being detained at Dulles International Airport and these residents cannot be removed from the United States for seven days.
Trump’s order, signed Friday, bars travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iraq, to the US for 90 days. It also suspends the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days until it is reinstated “only for nationals of countries for whom” members of Trump’s Cabinet deem can be properly vetted.

Released under special circumstances

According to court papers, both Darweesh and Alshawi were legally allowed to come into the US but were detained in accordance with Trump’s order.
Darweesh, who worked as an interpreter for the US during the Iraq War, was released from detention early Saturday afternoon.
“America is the land of freedom,” he told reporters at the airport shortly after his release. “America is the greatest nation.”
A source with knowledge of the case confirmed Darweesh will be allowed into the US due to provisions in Trump’s order that allow the State and Homeland Security departments to admit individuals into the US on a case-by-case base for certain reasons, including when the person is already in transit and it would cause undue hardship and would not pose a threat to the security of the US.
The suit said Darweesh held a special immigrant visa, which he was granted the day of Trump’s inauguration on January 20, due to his work for the US government from 2003 to 2013.

Wife separated from husband after Trump's ban


Trump order strands Iraq refugess damon pkg_00000000



Wife separated from husband after Trump’s ban 03:11
Alshawi was released Saturday night, according to his attorney, Mark Doss.
Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-New York, who had arrived at JFK by early Saturday afternoon to try and secure the release of the two Iraqis, railed against Trump’s order and pledged continued action.
“This should not happen in America,” Velazquez said following Darweesh’s release. “One by one, street by street, if we have to go to court, we will fight this anyplace, anywhere.”

‘The executive order is unlawful’

The lawsuit said the US granted Alshawi a visa earlier this month to meet with his wife and son, whom the US already granted refugee status for her association with the US military.
The lawyers for the two men called for a hearing because they maintain the detention of people with valid visas is illegal.
“Because the executive order is unlawful as applied to petitioners, their continued detention based solely on the executive order violates their Fifth Amendment procedural and substantive due process rights,” the lawyers argue in court papers.
The ban and its impact
  • 134 million banned from US
  • What to know about the restrictions
  • Court papers said Customs and Border Protection authorities did not allow the lawyers to meet with the men and told them to try reaching Trump. Velázquez and fellow New York Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler said they attempted to speak to Darweesh and Alshawi at JFK’s Terminal 4 earlier Saturday but were denied.
    “When Mr. Darweesh’s attorneys approached CBP requesting to speak with Mr. Darweesh, CBP indicated that they were not the ones to talk to about seeing their client. When the attorneys asked, ‘Who is the person to talk to?’ the CBP agents responded, ‘Mr. President. Call Mr. Trump,'” the court papers read.
    Doss, an attorney with the International Refugee Assistance Project, told CNN his clients knew they had to get to the US as soon as possible so they boarded the first flight they could.
    The two men had been allowed to make phone calls. They do not know each other, and it is unclear if they were held together or separately, or if they were kept in a holding cell, according to Doss.
    “Our courageous plaintiff and countless others risked their lives helping US service members in Iraq. Trump’s order puts those who have helped us in harm’s way by denying them the safe harbor they have been promised in the United States,” said Karen Tumlin, the legal director of the NILC.
    The lawsuit was earlier reported by The New York Times.

    Legality questioned

    Trump’s executive order, titled “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” makes good on his longtime campaign promise to tighten borders and halt certain refugees from entering the United States.
    The countries impacted are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia, according to a White House official. It also caps the total number of refugees admitted into the United States during the 2017 fiscal year at 50,000, down more than half from the current level of 110,000.
    “I am establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America,” Trump said during the signing at the Pentagon. “We don’t want them here.”
    An administration official told CNN if a person has a valid visa to enter the US but is a citizen of one of the seven countries under the temporary travel ban, then the person cannot come into the US. If the person landed after the order was signed Friday afternoon, then the person would be detained and put back on a flight to their country of citizenship.
    Department of Homeland Security officials acknowledged people who were in the air would be detained upon arrival and put back on a plane to their home country. An official was not able to provide numbers of how many have already been detained.
    After the federal orders were issued, the department said it “will continue to enforce all of the president’s Executive Orders in a manner that ensures the safety and security of the American people.
    “The president’s Executive Orders remain in place-prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the U.S. government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety.
    “The president’s Executive Order affects a minor portion of international travelers, and is a first step towards reestablishing control over America’s borders and national security.”

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    obese woman

    New report says obesity on the rise in the Caribbean

    SANTIAGO, Chile (CMC) — A new joint report by two United Nations agencies says overweight and obesity is on the rise throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, affecting every country, except Haiti.

    The report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says overweight and obesity are particularly prevalent among women and children in the region.

    The “Panorama of Food and Nutrition Security in Latin America and the Caribbean” on Wednesday said that close to 360 million people – about 58 per cent of the inhabitants of the region – are overweight, with the highest rates observed in the Bahamas (69 per cent), Mexico (64 per cent) and Chile (63 per cent).

    With the exception of Haiti (38.5 per cent), Paraguay (48.5 per cent) and Nicaragua (49.4 per cent), the report said obesity affects more than half the population of all countries in the region.

    The report also noted obesity affects 140 million people – 23 per cent of the region’s population – and highest rates are to be found in the Caribbean countries of Barbados (36 per cent), and Trinidad and Tobago and Antigua and Barbuda at around 31 per cent.

    PAHO said the increase in obesity has disproportionately impacted women.

    It said that, in more than 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the rate of female obesity is 10 percentage points higher than that of men.

    “The alarming rates of overweight and obesity in Latin America and the Caribbean should act as a wake-up call to governments in the region to introduce policies that address all forms of hunger and malnutrition by linking food security, sustainability, agriculture, nutrition and health,” said According to FAO’s Regional Representative Eve Crowley.

    PAHO’s Director Dr Carissa F Etienne said that the region also faces “a double burden of malnutrition.

    “This needs to be tackled through balanced diets that include fresh, healthy, nutritious and sustainably produced food, as well as addressing the main social factors that determine malnutrition, such as lack of access to healthy food, water and sanitation, education and health services, and social protection programs, among others,” she said.

    The FAO/PAHO Panorama report pointed out that one of the main factors contributing to the rise of obesity and overweight has been the change in dietary patterns.

    It said economic growth, increased urbanization; higher average incomes and the integration of the region into international markets have reduced the consumption of traditional preparations and increased consumption of ultra-processed products, “a problem that has had greater impact on areas and countries that are net food importers.”

    To address this situation, FAO and PAHO call for the promotion of healthy and sustainable food systems that link agriculture, food, nutrition and health.

    “To this end, countries should promote the sustainable production of fresh, safe and nutritious foods, ensuring their supply, diversity and access, especially for the most vulnerable sectors,” the statement said. “This should be complemented with nutrition education and consumer warnings about the nutritional composition of foods high in sugar, fat and salt.”

    According to the report, the region has managed to reduce hunger considerably, adding that, today, only 5.5 per cent of the population lives undernourished, with the Caribbean being the sub-region with the highest prevalence (almost 20 per cent), “largely due to the fact that Haiti has the highest rate of undernourished on the planet – 53 per cent.”

    The report said the situation concerning stunting in Latin America and the Caribbean has also improved: It fell from around 25 per cent in 1990 to 11 per cent in 2015, a reduction of 7.8 million children.

    Despite these advances, the report said about six million children are still stunted, while 700,000 – 1.3 per cent of children under 5 years – suffer wasting.

    PAHO said virtually all countries have been successful in improving the nutrition of their children, but it should be noted that malnutrition affects the poorest and rural areas the most.

    “That’s where governments need to focus their efforts,” Crowley said.

    The report showed that, in Latin America and the Caribbean, about four million children – just over seven percent – of children under the age of five are overweight.

    Since 1990, the report said the largest increases in overweight among children – in terms of numbers – were seen in Mesoamerica; and, in terms of prevalence, in the Caribbean, where the rate increased from around four percent to almost seven.

    The report noted that several governments have introduced policies aimed at improving the nutrition of their citizens.

    It pointed to Barbados, Dominica and Mexico – countries that have approved taxes for sugar-sweetened beverages; while Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Ecuador have healthy food laws that regulate food advertising and/or labelling.

    Etienne emphasised that these measures should be complemented with policies to increase the supply and access to fresh food and safe water, among other things, focusing on the strengthening of family farming, as well as the development of short production and marketing circuits, public procurement programs, and food and nutrition education .

    According to the report, the current trajectory of regional agricultural growth is unsustainable, owing, among other factors, to the serious consequences it is having on the region’s ecosystems and natural resources.

    “The sustainability of our region’s food supply and its future diversity is under threat, unless we change the way we do things,” said Crowley, noting that 127 million tons of food are lost or wasted annually in Latin America and Caribbean.

    According to FAO and PAHO, the use of land and other natural resources must be made more efficient and sustainable, the techniques of food production, storage and processing must be improved, and food losses and waste must be reduced “to ensure equitable access to food for all.”

    Posted in Features, Health0 Comments


    OECS welcomes kidney transplant operation in Antigua and Barbuda


    CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Jan 25, CMC – The St. Lucia-based Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has congratulated Antigua and Barbuda following the first kidney transplant operation to be done in the sub-region.

    “This operation had ushered in a new era of health care proficiency within the region driven by a whole of government approach in collaboration with local health authorities and regional health coordinating groups including the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA)” said OECS Director General Dr. Didacus Jules.

    KidneyHe said the OECS Commission supports the call for a seamless regional organ donor registry in the wake of the operation and would work closely with all stakeholders to formulate a viable proposal.

     “The rise in chronic non-communicable diseases in the OECS such as diabetes, cancer and kidney disease require we work holistically across all strata of government and employ new and innovative ways of addressing these health challenges given the fiscal and other resource constraints of member states.

    “The OECS Commission’s Health Unit is working closely with Chief Medical Officers and other stakeholders to further strengthen our associations with our global health development partners and to support proposals for centers of specialized medical care excellence in each OECS member state”,’ Jules said, adding that “this would also include formalising the call by the OECS Health Policy Forum for establishing a national and regional organ donor database, because as we know in the case of kidney disease, a transplant is significantly cheaper and less traumatic than keeping someone on haemodialysis”.

    Jules said that the re-modelling needed within the health care architecture of the region is being undertaken to ultimately ensure that every OECS citizen has access to affordable, quality health care and the kidney transplant achievement by the staff of the Mount St John’s Medical Centre is testament to that vision.

    The eight hour procedure was performed by a 14-member team consisting of four surgeons, two anaesthetists and eight specialist nurses on January 16.

    Antigua and Barbuda Health Minister Molwyn Joseph described the event as “historic” praising “all the doctors, nurses and other technicians who directly or indirectly contributed to this success.

    “They shared a vision with the government of what we can accomplish in healthcare and they brought professionalism in making possible what for years appeared to be impossible. Our nation has a right to take pride in this accomplishment, we have done what mere mortals can do and it was done with dedication and care”, Joseph said.

    Posted in Health, Local, News, Regional2 Comments


    Trump Sets Off Media Firestorm With Creation of Vaccine Safety Review Panel




    January 24, 2017 

      By Dr. Mercola

    Only nine days away from his swearing-in as president, Donald Trump held his first press conference since the election and announced that the pharmaceutical industry was “getting away with murder” and that during his presidency he would do something about high drug prices with more competitive bidding for federal contracts. His remarks sent drug stocks into a sudden nosedive.1

    As noted by Brad Loncar, manager of Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy ETF: “When somebody that high-profile says something that negative, people do not want to invest in it.” According to Reuters:2

    “Trump’s campaign platform included allowing the Medicare healthcare program to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies, which the law currently prohibits.

    He has also discussed making it easier to import drugs at cheaper prices. ‘We are going to start bidding. We are going to save billions of dollars over time,’ Trump said.”

    Trump’s comments came only one day after Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told reporters that Trump had asked him to “chair a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity.”

    Although the Trump transition team quickly denied that any decision had been made on such a commission, shockwaves reverberated throughout the drug industry in speculation as to what impact this commission, if formed, might have on vaccine uptake and sales.3

    Robert Kennedy and Media Coverage of a Possible New Vaccine Safety Commission

    Although Trump himself has not made a public statement, if you had any doubts whatsoever that conventional media is following an industry-created script, look no further than the incredibly biased coverage of Kennedy’s reported appointment.

    A vast majority of the articles written are so blatantly slanted and unbalanced, it is hard to understand why self-respecting professional journalists would ever want their names associated with them. Repeatedly, such articles claim the science on vaccines is settled and vaccines are safe.4 Period.

    The New York Times — which recently promised to rededicate itself “to the fundamental mission of Times journalism … to report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor, striving always to understand and reflect all political perspectives”5 — wrote a remarkably biased article about Kennedy’s appointment, saying:6

    “Mr. Trump … asked a prominent anti-vaccine crusader to lead a new government commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity, ushering debunked conspiracy theories about the dangers of immunization into the White House …

    Among his many political pursuits, Mr. Trump picked up the anti-vaccine cause a few years back. In 2012, he tweeted … ‘A study says @autism is out of control — a 78 percent increase in 10 years. Stop giving monstrous combined vaccinations.’ These views, to say the least, are not the scientific consensus …”

    So, The New York Times, supposedly newly rededicated to impartial reflection on all sides of the issue, simply decides there’s a consensus among all scientists and makes no attempt to address a single argument made by those who provide substantial evidence that there are big gaps in vaccine safety science.

    That’s hardly upholding journalistic integrity. Yet, this is what we’re seeing everywhere in news reporting by conventional media dominated by corporate interests these days.

    Is Vaccine Safety as Established a Fact as Gravity?

    There are no long-term studies comparing differences in health outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations.

    The pharmaceutical and medical trade industries claim a vaccine’s benefits always outweigh the potential harms, but no solid scientific evidence is provided to back up such claims. It’s really little more than opinion.

    The government and pharmaceutical industries say it would be unethical to study vaccinated versus unvaccinated children, as the unvaccinated children would be put at risk. Yet more and more parents are having first-hand experience with adverse reactions, and choosing to opt-out of the government vaccine schedule.

    Ask a parent of a child who died or suffered permanent brain damage after vaccination and I’m sure you’ll get a very different response. Curiously, anyone who dares to question the quality and quantity of vaccine studies is immediately branded anti-science and a medical heretic.

    In response to Kennedy’s announcement that Trump had asked him to head up a commission on vaccine safety, Dr. David Kimberlin, co-director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), said:7

    “We don’t have to keep asking if gravity is real. We don’t have to keep asking if clean water is a good thing. Yes it is. Vaccines are good things. They save lives.”

    According to Kimberlin, “The science proving the safety of vaccination is settled and does not need to be investigated again.” But if it’s settled, where are the studies?

    Where’s the research showing that 50 doses of 14 vaccines administered to children in combination and repeatedly in the first six years of life equals long-term health and results in few, if any, problems? What are the multi-generational effects to the immune system with so many vaccine doses?

    The sad fact is the often repeated mantra that vaccines are absolutely safe and that there is nothing to worry about is a case of thinking that if a falsehood is repeated over and over again, and long enough, people will believe it’s true.

    Why are vaccine proponents so terrified of an honest vaccine safety review? This in and of itself raises serious questions.

    Another fact that should give everyone pause is the witch hunt unleashed on anyone who dares to question the never-proven-hypothesis that vaccines are so unequivocally safe and beneficial for everyone that everyone should be forced, by law, to get vaccinated with every government-recommended vaccine.

    Cleveland Clinic Doctor Faces Disciplinary Action for Stating the Obvious

    One of the latest victims of such a witch hunt is Cleveland Clinic physician Daniel Neides, director of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Neides writes a monthly column for, a publication that is part of the Sun News organization, which also publishes the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

    In his January 6 column,8 Neides expressed his concerns about the ever-growing toxic burden humans face and his disappointing experience with the annual flu shot, which left him bedridden for two days. He also touched on the potential vaccine-autism link, saying:

    “Why do I mention autism now twice in this article. Because we have to wake up out of our trance and stop following bad advice. Does the vaccine burden — as has been debated for years — cause autism? I don’t know and will not debate that here.

    What I will stand up and scream is that newborns without intact immune systems and detoxification systems are being over-burdened with PRESERVATIVES AND ADJUVANTS IN THE VACCINES.

    The adjuvants, like aluminum — used to stimulate the immune system to create antibodies — can be incredibly harmful to the developing nervous system.

    Some of the vaccines have helped reduce the incidence of childhood communicable diseases, like meningitis and pneumonia. That is great news. But not at the expense of neurologic diseases like autism and ADHD increasing at alarming rates.”

    His comments ignited a media fire storm and prompted the Cleveland Clinic to issue a statement saying Neides would face disciplinary action for his comments.9

    The column was briefly removed from the site, but mysteriously reappeared and became accessible again after Neides retracted his statements and apologized for what his physician colleagues and the media are characterizing as an anti-vaccine “rant.”

    If a prominent, well-respected physician cannot state the obvious without facing potentially career-ending consequences, what hope do we have of ever getting at the truth? WHY is open dialogue about vaccination not permitted?

    It’s simply not reasonable to shut every discussion down with the old “the science is settled” claim, while the scientific literature is still littered with outstanding questions.

    Coincidence Claims Falter as Vaccine Damage Becomes More Common


    On January 11, a group of concerned parents rallied at the State Capitol in Mississippi in the hopes of having their voices heard in the vaccine debate.10 One of those parents was Dr. Scott Guidry, whose son developed autism spectrum symptoms following some of his childhood vaccinations. Guidry told WJTV:

    “My son was vaccine-injured, and we reversed the vaccine injury, and now he’s recovered from autism. I’m not against vaccines. I learned the same importance of vaccines like every other physician who went to med school did. I know. But it’s never really been studied, the safety of vaccines. There’s never been a long-term safety study on vaccines.”

    According to this news report, Mississippi has one of the highest vaccination rates in the U.S. It also has one of the highest autism rates, as well as the highest infant mortality rate in the country.11 Coincidence? No one knows, but in the absence of firm proof either way, many parents are renewing their call for the legal right to make voluntary decisions about which vaccines their child should receive and if or when they should be given.

    The same scenario is playing out in other states across the nation. The numbers of children suffering with chronic illness and disability, including autism spectrum disorders, are increasing. The numbers of children and adults who have experienced serious vaccine reactions are also increasing.

    It has become so common that a majority of people now have a family member or know someone who has been adversely affected by one or more vaccines. Eventually, this first-hand experience with vaccine reactions will come to include most physicians and politicians, as well.

    At a certain point, the coincidence-theory simply cannot hold water any longer, and that’s what we’re starting to see now. Very often, people don’t care enough to get involved in the discussion until it’s personal and, in recent years, we’ve seen a growing number of influential people speaking up and describing their personal experiences with vaccine reactions in the public forum.

    Robert De Niro is the latest example of a well-known celebrity parent, who has gone on the public record questioning vaccine safety and the reported link between vaccines and autism. Not surprisingly, like everyone who raises questions about vaccine safety, he has been attacked by the media as being uninformed and promoting dangerous ideas.

    Rick Rollens, former secretary of the California State Senate, and retired Representative Dan Burton (R-Ind.) are two examples of individuals who worked for government and publicly shared their personal experiences with vaccination and autism. They were strongly criticized for speaking out as they attempted to open up discussions about vaccine safety. Absolutely no one is above ridicule should they dare question the safety of vaccines.

    Paul ‘For Profit’ Offit’s at It Again

    Wherever discussion about vaccine safety is covered by the media, Dr. Paul Offit is there in the middle of it. A vaccine developer for Merck and author of several books attempting to marginalize vaccine safety critics, Offit has become the “go-to” doctor whenever corporatized conventional media wants a spokesperson to deny vaccine risks and defend “vaccine safety.”

    Rarely, if ever, does media note his deep ties to the vaccine industry, and the fact that he stands to profit personally from maintaining the illusion that vaccines are absolutely safe for everyone all the time, which also protects the status quo for industry profitmaking.

    The Daily Beast recently ran an article12 penned by Offit, in which he says “Trump needs vaccine experts, not conspiracy theorists.” How do you know a propagandist when you see one? For starters, they’re extremely fond of throwing around derogatory and humiliating terms like “conspiracy theorists,” “hacks” and “quacks,” in lieu of making a solid argument.

    Offit has earned tens of millions of dollars in royalties from the Rotateq vaccine, and has notoriously stated that infants can tolerate 10,000 vaccine doses at once without ill effect. He’s also been caught making unsubstantiated and false statements about former CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, and lying to the OC Register about providing CBS News with the details of his financial relationship with the vaccine maker Merck.13

    Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the non-profit charity, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), sued Offit for defamation in 2009, along with reporter Amy Wallace and publisher Conde Nast. “She lies,” Offit was quoted as stating “flatly” about Fisher in Wired magazine. However, no evidence supporting his accusation was provided and Fisher was never asked by the reporter for a comment on Offit’s baseless allegation.

    Fisher sued in the Fourth Circuit federal court in Virginia for a jury trial and $1 million in damages, but Judge Claude Hilton dismissed the defamation lawsuit. Hilton’s primary argument for dismissal was that both Fisher and Offit are public figures and that, in his opinion, Offit’s allegation that “she lies” was made in a moment of emotional exasperation and the heat of spirited public debate, which is the hallmark of free speech protected by the First Amendment.

    It is interesting how the free speech argument was used to dismiss a clear-cut case of defamation. The big question today is: Will the First Amendment protect Neides or anyone else in the U.S. who dares to publicly criticize the safety or effectiveness of vaccines?

    In Absence of Reliable Injury Reporting, How Can Safety Be Ascertained?

    In 2015, media reports noted that a “study” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had confirmed that vaccines rarely ever cause serious reactions. The study in question used CDC Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) data, concluding there were only 33 “confirmed vaccine-triggered anaphylaxis cases” among the 25,173,965 vaccine doses administered between January 2009 and December 2011.14

    However, there’s a significant problem with using this study to “prove” safety, as there are dozens of serious reactions besides anaphylaxis. To say that vaccines rarely cause serious reactions based on the occurrence of anaphylaxis alone is misleading at best.

    Moreover, it’s reasonable to suspect that the findings rely on incomplete data. The assumption is that the VSD — which collects health data from nine health care partners — actually receives thorough and accurate information about what happens to a patient following vaccination. But the chances of that are actually slim, since studies have shown vaccine reactions are rarely if ever recorded or reported.

    Providers of vaccines are by law required to report vaccine reactions to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), jointly operated by the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Despite that, most vaccine providers are unaware of this requirement, are unfamiliar with the reporting process, are confused about who should be doing the reporting, and/or are unwilling to file a report. As noted by The Vaccine Reaction, an online journal newspaper published by NVIC:15

    “Although the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act [NCVIA] of 1986 requires doctors and other health care providers who administer vaccines to make a report to VAERS for ‘hospitalizations, injuries, deaths and serious health problems’ following vaccination, it is estimated that this happens in only between 1 to 10 percent of the cases.

    VAERS receives about 30,000 reports annually. Given the extreme under-reporting to the system, it is likely that the true number of vaccine adverse reactions in the United States is closer to at least 300,000 per year, and perhaps as high as 3 million. One can only guess how many of those would be serious reactions. Suddenly, the argument that vaccines are safe because adverse reactions are ‘rare’ becomes a bogus one.”

    If underreporting to VAERS is that common, chances are, the VSD is no better. Adding to the problem, the VSD data is not openly available to independent researchers, and without replication, the accuracy of the findings must forever remain suspect.

    The Vaccine Reaction Cover-Up

    Most pediatricians will tell you they’ve never seen a vaccine reaction, or that reactions are really rare. However, when a child suffers a vaccine reaction, they typically end up in the emergency room (ER), not the pediatrician’s office. In a 2015 article, an ER nurse and former police officer shares his experiences with vaccine reactions, noting he’s “seen the cover-up” first hand. He writes, in part:16,17

    “I cannot even begin to guess how many times over the years I have seen vaccine reactions come through my E.R. Without any exaggeration, it has to be counted in hundreds … The cases almost always presented similarly, and often no one else connected it. The child comes in with either a fever approaching 105, or seizures, or lethargy/can’t wake up, or sudden overwhelming sickness, screaming that won’t stop, spasms [or] GI inclusion …

    And one of the first questions I would ask as triage nurse, was, are they current on their vaccinations? … Parents (and co-workers) usually just think I’m trying to rule out the vaccine preventable diseases, when in fact, I am looking to see how recently they were vaccinated to determine if this is a vaccine reaction.

    Too often I heard a parent say something akin to ‘Yes they are current, the pediatrician caught up their vaccines this morning during their check up, and the pediatrician said they were in perfect health!’ …

    But here’s the more disturbing part. [Of] all the cases I’ve seen, I have never seen any medical provider report them to VAERS. I have filed VAERS reports. But I am the only nurse I have EVER met that files VAERS reports. I have also never met a doctor that filed a VAERS report. Mind you, I have served in multiple hospitals across multiple states, alongside probably well over a hundred doctors and probably 300 [to] 400+ nurses … What does that say about reported numbers? …

    And the final part of that, is that I have, first hand, seen blatant cover ups from doctors. I have seen falsification of medical records and documentation via intentional omission …

    I remind them that VAERS is a reporting body for ANY symptoms that are contemporaneous to vaccination, whether causation is believed to be associated or not, and I get the dismissal that they are not filing it because it [the vaccine] has nothing to do with it [the symptom] … This is a systemic suppression of information and statistics.”

    How Vaccine Mandates Are Imposed on Health Care Workers in Absence of Legal Requirements

    In related news, recently reported18 that six health care workers fired from a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, for refusing the annual flu vaccine have been reinstated with back pay.

    In related commentary, according to Dr. Meryl Nass, a vaccine blogger with special interests in vaccine-induced illnesses, it appears American hospitals do not actually have a legal leg to stand on when firing health care workers over vaccine refusals, because the federal government claims it does not impose vaccine mandates for adults.

    So why are hospitals firing workers for refusing influenza vaccinations? In large part, it appears to be a strategy designed to receive higher Medicare reimbursements. Organizations co-created by the federal government have created guidelines for improving “quality of care” in hospitals, and Medicare reimbursements are used to forcibly impose certain quality measures over others, such as vaccination.

    In a nutshell, hospitals that have higher vaccination rates for patients and health care workers get higher Medicare reimbursement rates. But this has little to do with actual federal mandates. In fact, according to the CDC, “there are no legally mandated vaccinations for adults, except for persons entering military service. CDC does recommend certain immunizations for adults, depending on age, occupation and other circumstances, but these immunizations are not required by law.”

    Flu Vaccine Mandate for Hospital Workers Is Financially Driven

    Employee coverage rates of flu vaccination is a quality measure that is reported to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). As noted by Nass:

    “The bottom line is that the federal government squeezed hospitals by requiring hospitals to report the rates of yearly influenza vaccinations of both hospital staff and hospital patients, including these two measures in a global calculation of hospital ‘quality.’ A hospital’s ‘quality’ number determines approximately 3.75 percent of its overall Medicare reimbursements rate in 2017 …

    In the health care industry, 3.75 percent is enough to make a hospital sink or swim. The hospitals, predictably, acquiesced by demanding their employees be vaccinated or fired. But the federal government insists it imposes no mandates. Yet its actions created a de facto mandate. Where are the lawyers who will litigate this in federal court?

    I don’t understand why cases are going through EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission], where employees may win, when their wins do not impact the de facto health care worker flu shot mandates that continue to be imposed in most U.S. health care institutions today.”

    Vaccinating Hospital Workers Has No Impact on Patient Safety

    Interestingly, hospitals began mandating annual flu shots for their workers AFTER meta-analyses by Cochrane (considered the gold standard of meta reviews), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC concluded that health care worker vaccinations do not protect patients from influenza — a finding that raises questions about its validity as a “quality of care” measure in the first place.

    The first one, published in July 2013, by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, found “laboratory-proven influenza or its complications (lower respiratory tract infection, or hospitalization or death due to lower respiratory tract illness) did not identify a benefit of health care worker vaccination on these key outcomes … This review does not provide reasonable evidence to support the vaccination of health care workers to prevent influenza in those aged 60 years or older resident in long-term care institutions.”

    The Cochrane Database Systematic Review published an update to this analysis in June, 2016, noting that 5 percent of health care workers who had received the influenza vaccine and 8 percent of workers who were unvaccinated had laboratory-proven influenza each season, and that health care workers may transmit influenza to patients.

    Still, the conclusions remained the same. “Offering influenza vaccination to health care workers based in long-term care homes may have little or no effect on the number of residents who develop laboratory-proven influenza compared with those living in care homes where no vaccination is offered,” the authors write. They did note one study of moderate quality evidence suggests health care vaccinations may reduce lower respiratory tract infections in residents by 2 percent, from 6 to 4 percent.

    Another 2013 meta-analysis — this one by the CDC — found, “The evidence quality that health care personnel vaccination reduces patient mortality and influenza cases is moderate and low, respectively.”19 A third analysis of 20 different studies,20 also published in 2013, found that while influenza vaccination of health care workers is likely to offer some indirect protection to vulnerable patients, the evidence is limited.

    Science Be Damned

    As noted by Nass:21

    “Each of these three groups examined the world literature on the effects of health care worker vaccinations in 2012 [to 20]13, and each determined that there was no statistically significant evidence that health care worker influenza vaccinations prevented either influenza cases or influenza deaths in their patients. You cannot get better evidence than this.

    Health care worker flu vaccinations, despite what the public has been told, do not improve patient care. Furthermore, there is no good evidence that flu shots benefit the over-65 Medicare patients who are also being vaccinated to comply with a second ‘quality’ measure.

    To my knowledge, no one has looked to see if hospital inpatients have poorer outcomes because of these shots, but they certainly might. The shots cause a generalized inflammatory reaction that might adversely affect patients with, for example, autoimmune diseases, pneumonia or heart attacks.”

    If you ask me, I think it’s about time we get a vaccine safety review commission started, and if Kennedy is the one who heads it, I wish him the best in this endeavor and hope he seeks advice from Barbara Loe Fischer, co-founder of NVIC. We must bring back some objective sanity to the discussion about vaccine safety and scientific integrity.

    It’s going to be an uphill battle all the way, but it is encouraging to see the topic being discussed by the new administration and, hopefully, it will result in better science and holding drug companies more accountable for the safety of their products.

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