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Campaign to combat childhood obesity launched

Campaign to combat childhood obesity launched

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jun 15, CMC – Barbados has launched a campaign aimed at addressing childhood obesity and the government has said it is examining the feasibility of restricting foods high in salt, fat and sugar from the school environment and from being marketed to children.

Health and Wellness Minister, retired Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, speaking at the launch of the Childhood Obesity Prevention Campaign, cited a report by researchers at the University of the West Indies (UWI) showing that in 1987, only 8.5 per cent of Barbadian school children were obese.

However, by 2010, the percentage rose to 32.5 per cent and it is now projected that the figure could increase to 50 per cent by 2030.

“Childhood obesity is harming Barbados through its impacts on the health and social fabric of the country. Not only is the burden of obesity in children large but it is projected to continue growing unless we take decisive action,” Bostic said.

He said that the impacts of childhood obesity on health encompassed issues such as increased risk of adult obesity and increased risk of non-communicable diseases, depression and anxiety.

The campaign, an initiative of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados, and dubbed “Stop! Yuh TOO Sweet,” will initially focus solely on the support of policy change to ban the sale of sugary sweets in schools.

Bostic gave the assurance that the government was committed to addressing the issue in several ways including working in partnership with a variety of agencies.

Other initiatives include promoting breastfeeding as an integral part of early child nutrition; supporting the monitoring of growth and development in early childhood; and encouraging regular physical activity in school-aged children.

He said that the Ministry would be engaging the food industry on reducing the production, manufacture, distribution and marketing of energy-dense and high-salt foods.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Education, Environment, Health, International, Kids, Local, News, Regional, Youth0 Comments

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The Eastern Caribbean Is Swamped by a Surge of Seaweed

Massive rafts of floating sargassum are killing wildlife and preventing fishers from launching their boats.

by Ryan Schuessler

June 11, 2018

Barbados’s Long Beach, typically a picturesque vision of white sand and blue water, is buried beneath a vast expanse of thick, rotting seaweed. It’s a stinking nuisance that has turned deadly.

“We have found three dolphins dead,” says Carla Daniel, the director of public awareness and education with the Barbados Sea Turtle Project. Daniel and her colleagues believe the dolphins got caught on June 4 in sargassum seaweed that has been washing up on Barbados and across the eastern Caribbean in mounds up to two meters thick. A necropsy of one dolphin revealed it died of stress.

Seven endangered green sea turtles have also died so far. “For the majority of animals, the sargassum can be a problem because it traps them,” Daniel says.

Under normal conditions, floating sargassum is a thriving ecosystem. It provides a vital habitat and food source in the open ocean for fish, turtles, and crustaceans. There are even a handful of species found only in floating sargassum mats, including the aptly-named sargassum fish. But when it grows too thick, the seaweed clumps in dense, tangled mats so expansive and impenetrable that sea turtles and other surface-breathing animals can’t break through.

The current losses are reminiscent of 2015, when the worst sargassum influx to date killed more than 40 green and hawksbill sea turtles, their bodies found in the thick rafts of seaweed. “For an endangered species, that’s unacceptable,” says Hazel Oxenford, a biologist at the University of the West Indies in Barbados.

But the current surge of seaweed is expected to be much worse than the one in 2015. “You can see on the satellite that there’s a lot more coming,” says Iris Monnereau, who works with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Barbados. Satellite observations show hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of sargassum floating in the central Atlantic. The challenge is in predicting where it will go next and where it might reach land, a situation that causes a whole other set of challenges.

In Barbados, the dolphin death toll has already risen to at least six—and it is expected to keep rising. Photo by the Barbados Sea Turtle Project

In Barbados, the dolphin death toll has already risen to at least six—and it is expected to keep rising. Photo by the Barbados Sea Turtle Project

Thick mats of sargassum seaweed can prevent animals from reaching the surface to breathe. Photo by the Barbados Sea Turtle Project

Barbados, the easternmost nation in the Lesser Antilles, an island chain in the Caribbean Sea, was just one island in the region on which the seaweed made landfall. In Dominica, a sargassum mat came ashore in the town of Marigot a few days before Barbados was inundated.

“It’s the worst we’ve seen it. [The seaweed] took up the entire bay,” says Andrew Magloire, who has worked in Dominica’s fisheries sector for more than 20 years. “The fishermen could not go to sea for two or three days. They couldn’t get the boats out because it was so thick.”

Sea weed – invates Marguerita Bay, Montserrat

In Montserrat, conservationist Veta Wade says “huge walls of sargassum” have come ashore on the island’s eastern coast.

The seaweed’s arrival in Barbados started as a trickle around January, Monnereau says. But the amount arriving has ramped up dramatically since early June. “It’s really come back in full force,” Monnereau says. “It’s just been disastrous.”

Historically, small quantities of the floating macroalgae naturally drifted into the Caribbean from the Sargasso Sea to the north. Since at least 2011, however, sargassum from a new source—the north equatorial recirculation region (NERR)—has begun inundating the region with thick mats of seaweed.

The massive rafts of sargassum produced in the north equatorial recirculation region have been washing ashore in recent years not only in the Caribbean, but also in Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, and West African nations including Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire. Illustration by Mark Garrison

The massive rafts of sargassum produced in the north equatorial recirculation region have been washing ashore in recent years not only in the Caribbean, but also in Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, and West African nations including Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire. Illustration by Mark Garrison

Conditions in the NERR, an area near the equator where large currents circulate, sporadically spurs the growth of sargassum—although the exact trigger for the blooms remains unclear. Evidence points to some combination of excessive nutrients from agricultural fertilizers and pollution; increasing nutrient flows from the Congo and Amazon Rivers and in dust blown from the Sahara Desert; and increasing sea surface temperatures caused by climate change. Under normal climatic conditions, sargassum can double its mass in just 11 days, Oxenford says. A warmer sea will dramatically boost its growth potential, she says.

These mass accumulations of seaweed devastate marine and costal ecosystems: they prevent vital sunlight from reaching coral reefs and seagrass beds, and their decomposition saps the water of oxygen and releases toxic hydrogen sulfide. The result is a rapid degradation of seagrass beds, mangroves, coral reefs, and other shallow coastal ecosystems. A 2017 study showed how an influx of sargassum caused the mass die-off of seagrass beds in Mexico, causing damage that may take years or decades to repair.

The phenomenon’s impact on local fisheries is also becoming clear. And the news isn’t all negative.

“As bad as [sargassum] is, [it] has a lot of life in it,” says Barbadian fisherman Allan Bradshaw.

Since the sargassum rafts began appearing in the eastern Caribbean in 2011, fishers have been landing more mahi-mahi than ever before, Bradshaw says. Juvenile mahi-mahi congregate near sargassum rafts. “Never before would you have seen those in such vast quantities,” Bradshaw says.

But Barbados’s crucial flying fish fishery has taken a hit. While the mechanism remains unclear, the arrival of such massive amounts of sargassum have coincided with a dramatic decrease in flying fish landings. Compared to the first six months of 2014, when Barbadian fishers landed 981 tonnes of flying fish, the catch plummeted to just 278 tonnes a year later, during 2015’s major influx of seaweed—a 72 percent decrease in one of the island’s most important fisheries.

Although impacts of the sargassum influx on fisheries has been mixed, unprecedented challenges emerge when the massive rafts—fueled by increasing temperatures and nutrient loads—come near shore.

Carla Daniel, the director of public awareness and education with the Barbados Sea Turtle Project, has been working to find and rescue animals that have been washed ashore with the seaweed. Photo by the Barbados Sea Turtle Project

Carla Daniel, the director of public awareness and education with the Barbados Sea Turtle Project, has been working to find and rescue animals that have been washed ashore with the seaweed. Photo by the Barbados Sea Turtle Project

This includes risks to human health. While the hydrogen sulphide gas released when the seaweed decays occurs naturally in the human body, it is dangerous in large amounts, causing headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even asthma. It can also cause “rapid and extensive damage to concrete and metals,” writes the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The smell and blight also has the potential to damage the tourism industry, an economic pillar to Barbados and other islands in the region.

Back in Barbados, Daniel and her team are picking through the thick sargassum mats that cover the beach, looking for turtles and wildlife that can still be saved. Going live on the Barbados Sea Turtle Project’s Facebook page last Thursday, Daniel released a turtle named Olive that had survived being washed ashore. The turtle, which is missing three of its four flippers, was taken out to sea and returned to, of all places, a small patch of sargassum.

But it’s a carefully considered placement. The seaweed, says Daniel in the video, will give the turtle a source of food and a bit of shelter, as sargassum naturally does in the open ocean. As long as the sargassum doesn’t get too thick and the current steers clear of the shore, Olive should be okay.

Daniel believes the threat of vast sargassum mats killing wildlife and washing ashore is “going to be part of our new reality.” But her team, which relies on locals to report sightings of stranded wildlife like Olive, has seen a huge outpouring of support in recent days. “People are very, very willing to help.”

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Featured, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology, TOURISM0 Comments

Deputy Prime Minister Reginald Austrie

Government minister wants debate on decriminalisation of marijuana

ROSEAU, Dominica, Jun 1, CMC – A senior government minister says he remains baffled as to why Dominicans are afraid of debating the issue of decriminalisation of marijuana whether it is or medicinal or other purposes.

“There’s a debate on marijuana…the whole world is debating marijuana, whether it is for medicinal purposes, whether it is for religious purposes. Are we going to remain in our little world and afraid to take about marijuana? It is a discussion we need to have,” Deputy Prime Minister Reginald Austrie said.

Deputy Prime Minister Reginald Austrie

Austrie, who is also the Minister of Agriculture, told a farmer’s consultation in Salisbury on the island’s west coast that Dominicans needed to discuss and debate the issue.

“In St. Vincent (and the Grenadines) they talking about it, CARICOM (Caribbean Community) has taken a decision to begin to talk about it. Why are we not talking about it more in Dominica?

“That’s the question I am asking. Are we prepared as a country to begin to talk about it. It is too much like a big stick within Dominica when the rest of the world is already talking about it,” Austrie said.

He told the consultation that Dominica “should start talking about it” adding “as to what we decide is another matter.

“But you can only make a decision after discussion. So let us start with the discussion and we will see where the discussion is going and if the discussion is let us end that talk about marijuana, we will end it. If the talk is we continue the discussion until some decisions are taken in that regard..”

“We live in a modern and enlighten world and maybe we may have a comparative advantage,” Austrie said, telling the consultation “I am not saying to use it, I am not saying to smoke it, I am not saying to sell it, but if we can grow it for medicinal purposes , the guys can come down here, they can buy it, we can package it, we can sell it, let us have that discussion on those subject matters,” Austrie said.

At least two CARICOM countries –Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda- have advanced plans for the decriminalisation of marijuana for medicinal purposes in their respective countries.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the initiative would be undertaken in a controlled environment.

“I want to make it abundantly clear that my government is not advocating the use of cannabis, we are against anything that is smoked.

“We do accept, though, on the other hand, that marijuana utilised in different forms has significant medicinal benefits and certainly we’ll move pretty quickly to ensure that we legalise the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes,” he said.

However, the executive director of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Dr James Hosepdales, urged regional countries to “proceed with an abundance of caution” when it come to the decriminalisation of marijuana.

Hospedales said there is much discussion on the decriminalisation issue and that there have been several times in history where populations and societies have gone very liberal with substances of abuse.

“The Americans are in the middle of a big opioid crisis and some many decades ago they had a huge problem with addiction and especially among white women,” he said.

“We in the Caribbean have a problem with marijuana and clogging up of the courts and the justice system and that’s understandable to try and reduce that side effect. I think though, in introducing these kinds of public policies, consideration has to be given to the full range of impact, he said, noting that if marijuana had to be decriminalised, there may be repercussions.

Posted in Health, International, Legal, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Summer Grilling Could Expose Your Skin to Cancer-Causing Chemicals

Summer Grilling Could Expose Your Skin to Cancer-Causing Chemicals

https://www.livescience.com/62640-bbqs-skin-cancer-causing-chemicals.html?utm_source=notification

 
 

Credit: Shutterstock

Summer barbecues may expose you to potentially cancer-causing chemicals in a surprising way: The chemicals may literally get under your skin, a small new study from China suggests.

The study found that people who sat around a grill were exposed to chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) through their skin. PAHs can be produced from the burning of organic substances, such as coal, gasoline and wood; they also form when meats are cooked using “high-temperature methods,” such as panfrying or grilling, according to the National Cancer Institute. Exposure to these chemicals has been linked with an increased risk of certain cancers.

But most previous studies have focused on exposure to PAHs through food or the air, rather than through the skin.

The new study, however, found that during grilling, people absorbed higher amounts of PAHs through their skin than through the air, the researchers said. Still, the greatest levels of exposure to PAHs occurred through eating the barbecued meats, the researchers noted. [9 Disgusting Things That the FDA Allows in Your Food]

It’s known that exposure to smoke can put people into contact with carcinogens, including PAHs, that can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled, said Dr. Kenneth Spaeth, chief of occupational and environmental medicine at Northwell Health in Great Neck, New York, who was not involved with the study. But barbecues probably don’t represent that great a risk for most people, he said.

In general, there’s no level of exposure to carcinogens that’s completely safe, although the lower a person’s exposure, the better, Spaeth said. However, most people probably don’t need to be overly worried about absorbing cancer-causing chemicals through their skin while attending a barbecue, if they don’t do this frequently.

“For the average person, it’s not likely to end up being a real major worry, since most people don’t engage in this activity all the time,” Spaeth told Live Science. But moderation is “prudent” when it comes to how much barbecue smoke people are exposed to and how often, and how much they eat meats cooked with these high-temperature methods, Spaeth said.

In the new study, the researchers looked at data from 20 men who attended a barbecue for 2.5 hours in Guangzhou, China. The participants were divided into three groups: One group ate barbecued meats and took no special precautions to avoid exposure to smoke through the air and through their skin; a second group didn’t eat any meat, but was exposed to the smoke through the air and through their skin; and a third group didn’t eat any meat and wore a special mask to prevent inhalation of smoke but was still exposed to smoke through their skin.

The researchers collected urine samples from the participants before and after the BBQ and also collected air samples during the BBQ, to analyze for PAHs. The scientists also calculated estimates of each participant’s uptake of PAHs through food, the air and their skin.

As the researchers expected, consuming the grilled meat was linked with the greatest level of PAH exposure. But the researchers estimated that absorption through the skin was the second-highest PAH-exposure route, followed by inhalation.

The study also found that people’s clothing may lower the amount of PAHs that are absorbed through the skin over the short term. But once clothing is saturated with smoke, the skin may absorb larger amounts of PAHs, and so the researchers recommend washing clothes soon after leaving the grilling area to reduce exposure.

Spaeth said he agreed that wearing clothes like long sleeves and long pants would be one way to reduce exposure to PAHs at a BBQ. In addition, the type of fuel a person uses can affect the amount of PAHs produced, with propane producing much lower doses of PAHs compared with charcoal, he said. Finally, barbecuing in a well-ventilated area, such as outdoors as opposed to inside a tent or confined area, could lower exposure to PAHs, Spaeth said.

The study was published today (May 23) in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Original article on Live Science.

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WHO

Caribbean health ministers attending WHO Assembly

GENEVA, May 22, CMC – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) health ministers are attending the 71st World Health Assembly here discussing various public health issues and its effects on the global population.

The assembly, which has brought together delegations from the 194 member-states of the World Health Organization (WHO) is taking place against the backdrop of a new outbreak of Ebola in central Africa.

WHODuring the Assembly, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) said a range of issues will be discussed including, WHO’s work-plan for the next five years.

“This plan will ultimately seek to save 29 million lives by 2023 through a series of strategic actions designed to support countries in achieving the health targets of the ([United Nations] Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” PAHO said.

The World Health Assembly will also discuss WHO’s role in health emergencies, polio, physical activity, vaccines, the global snakebite burden and rheumatic heart disease, among other issues.

PAHO said the Americas region will participate in the Assembly through their country delegations, as well as a delegation from PAHO, the regional office of WHO in the Americas, led by the director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne.

The World Health Assembly is the supreme decision-making body of WHO.

We are transforming how we work to achieve our vision of a world in which health is a right for all. We are changing the way we do business… too many people are still dying of preventable diseases, too many people are being pushed into poverty to pay for health care out of their own pockets and too many people are unable to get the health services they need. This is unacceptable,” said WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“This is a pivotal health Assembly. On the occasion of WHO’s 70th anniversary, we are celebrating seven decades of public health progress that have added 25 years to global life expectancy, saved millions of children’s lives, and made huge inroads into eradicating deadly diseases such as smallpox and, soon, polio,” said Ghebreyesus, who is attending his first Assembly following his election last year.

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My Glendon Hospital Stay: A Good Experience

My Glendon Hospital Stay: A Good Experience

By Gracelyn Cassell

About a month ago, April 10th to be exact, I ended up at Glendon Hospital for emergency surgery.  I left four days later and friends are astounded when I say that I actually enjoyed the experience.  I’ve had medical issues for years but kept hoping that the new hospital would be in place before things came to a head.  That was not to be.

Glendon Hospital

So there I was on Tuesday evening April 10th, listening to the Nurse on duty in Casualty telephoning the many persons needed for my surgery.  As each person arrived, I quickly apologised for ruining plans for the evening.  I felt particularly bad that Dr. Braimah Kassim, who, after a full day of surgery, would not have the pleasure of a break. Everyone, however, hastened to reassure me that it was okay, it was all part of the job.  Blood had to be drawn for testing, x-rays taken and other unmentionables done in preparation. I discovered that my recent manicure/pedicure would present a problem for monitoring during the operation, so the polish had to be removed.  I must admit that being surrounded by seasoned nurses like Sister Noleen Meade, Nurse Anaesthetist Brenda Daley, and others who prepared me for theatre, actually helped me to relax.    

It is funny how in life we take so much for granted. Sister Icilda Stanley, a former schoolmate, took charge of my personal belongings, and I realise now that I would not have had that level of comfort in an overseas facility.  In fact, immediately after I was back on the ward just before 2 am on Wednesday April 11th, I noticed my bag waiting for me near to what would be my bed for the next several days.  My cell-phone was registering the concern of relatives and friends who needed to know how the operation had gone.

Fortunately, my brother Joseph, the first person I recognised once the anaesthesia wore off, and who I had instructed not to wait around, answered all of the queries. It was really nice to wake up and see him! He explained to me later that I was complaining about being hungry and in pain but I only remember being very calm and collected.  So, it’s good that he was there as a witness to the true state of affairs.  I do remember being offered a cup of bush-tea and that was like music to my ears.  I also received a pain injection and that was it. 

I slept soundly until late afternoon when, my youngest brother, Norman, came and without my knowing, took a photo of me which was sent to the family ‘whatsapp’ group.  They found that photo most reassuring but now seeing Kate Middleton all bright and glowing after giving birth to a third child, I realised that I should have included a make-up kit in my hospital bag!

However, the team that came to check on me the next day didn’t seem worried by my lack of makeup.  They explained what had transpired the night before and seemed happy to see me awake and in good spirits.  I shared a vague recollection that I might have been protesting at some point and they laughingly told me that when I was returned to the ward and placed in bed on my back, I made several attempts to roll on to my side complaining that “I always sleep on my side!”

I was placed on a liquid diet which I actually enjoyed because there were interesting items on the menu like arrowroot porridge which I had not had in years. The plantain porridge reminded me of my student days in Jamaica when I first savoured banana porridge prepared with coconut milk.  In fact, once I was allowed to move to a more solid diet, I actually refused to leave the hospital when Dr. Kassim gave the all clear for me to be discharged on the Friday.  I told him that the menu on Saturday was far too interesting to be missed.  So I went home after supper the following evening.  Little did I know that a hot meal was waiting there for me!

My fears about the post-crisis, makeshift hospital which has no private ward were not realised.  I always felt that noise and light would prevent me from resting but I had the best sleep that I had enjoyed in years and many visitors kept saying that I didn’t look like someone who had undergone surgery.  Once I got home, however, I was thrown off schedule with both rest and medication because I’ve never really liked alarms!  I actually missed having the nurses wake me up when it was time for meds.  And of course, at home, you end up doing all kinds of things which get in the way of sleep or taking meds!

But I can hear you asking – How was this a good experience?  First of all, I am deeply appreciative of all that was done by doctors and staff to facilitate my surgery and make my stay comfortable. They work daily with many challenges. I am impressed that the team includes nutritionists who have incorporated local produce and traditional dishes on the menu.  This assures me that once there is cheaper electricity, if the geothermal project ever comes on stream, there are people who will ensure that the many many seasonal fruits and vegetables that now go to waste, will be put to good use.  I also feel strongly that the proposed hospital plan, developed with the input of this dedicated staff, will be the best for Montserrat. I sincerely hope that someone will dust it off and make the business case for its implementation.  Medical tourism could certainly provide an income stream since I am sure others would love to have my experience.

I was really touched by the many persons near and far, friends and family, who went out of their way to demonstrate their love and caring during my hospital stay and after. I had all kinds of offers: to do my laundry, prepare meals for me, get me fruits, coconut water and jelly, do my shopping and more. This outpouring of support also contributed to my very positive experience.  To be honest, I am trying to resist the temptation to prolong the recovery period.  My sincere thanks to all and kudos to the staff at Glendon! 

Gracelyn Cassell
Head
The University of the West Indies
Open Campus Montserrat

Posted in Columns, Features, General, Health, Letters, Opinions0 Comments

crimmee

Secondary school student in brutal attack on mother

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Apr 20, CMC –Education Minister Anthony Garcia said that the necessary resources and experts from the Student Support Services Division of the Ministry of Education will be sent to a secondary school, south of here, after a student is reported to have severely injured his mother in a fit of rage over school work earlier this week.

crimmeeGarcia said that the Ministry had received a report regarding the incident in which the 15-year-old Presentation College student allegedly chopped his mother almost severing one of her arms, and also inflicting multiple wounds to her head, chest and arms.

The student has since been taken into police custody following the incident on Wednesday night.

Police said that the woman had been found at the house by her husband on his return from work on Thursday and that the student had been found in a nearby village after fleeing the house.

The mother has since undergone emergency and the Head of Central Division, Senior Superintendent,  Inraj Balram described the incident as very disturbing.

“It is appalling for a 15-year-old who is attending a prestigious school to resort to that kind of violence against his own mother. I am pleading with people who have troubled children to seek counselling for them,” Balram is quoted in the Friday edition of the Trinidad Guardian newspaper.

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marijuuu

Former health minister renews call for decriminalising marijuana

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Apr 20, CMC – Former health minister Dr. Fuad khan Friday renewed his call for the decriminalisation of marijuana for medical purposes.

“Trinidad and Tobago needs to join the march towards decriminalization of marijuana, particularly for medical use” Dr. Khan, an opposition legislator, said in a statement in which he noted that as of this year several countries including Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, India, Israel, Jamaica, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Uruguay, and some U.S. jurisdictions, had done so.

marijuuuThe global community is Friday observing International Day of Cannabis, commonly referred to as “420’ and Dr. Khan said “on the occasion of 420, I once again renew my call for the decriminalization of the use of marijuana”.

The opposition legislator, a medical practitioner, said that in his contribution to the budget debate last year “ I pointed out the many benefits to the economy by legalizing marijuana, its medical uses and the need to desist from criminalizing young men in particular for using small amounts.
“ I went to great lengths to show the benefits but the current government has constantly ignored all calls for changes to the law. Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley when asked about the legalization of marijuana in 2015 said that while the issue might be “fashionable” at the moment, it isn’t a priority for his government.”

Dr. Khan said that the government’s “continuing failure to broach matters of national importance has become a serious drawback when it comes to our society evolving based on science, pragmatism and common sense.”.

He said Trinidad and Tobago has some of the highest rates of cancer, hypertension and diabetes in the region and if marijuana licences are granted, the country can begin to benefit from the positive medical benefits.
“Patients with epilepsy, diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome and other conditions will be able to have access to legal marijuana, not having the added burden of trying to evade law enforcement,” Khan said, noting that while the debate continues on the efficacy of medical marijuana, several major research have been undertaken to understand the positive effects of the marijuana.

He quoted the findings of several research studies on the issue insisting that Trinidad and Tobago must move swiftly to separate marijuana from the very real and dangerous illegal drug trade and allow the people who use it as medicine to do so without being incarcerated.

“Marijuana smokers are not second class citizens. Adults have the legal right to consume alcohol, tobacco and other legal drugs but are criminalized if they choose marijuana, a natural herb. That is neither reasonable nor fair,” Dr. Khan added.

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Michael-Peyrefitte

Belize Attorney General has advice for United States on drug problems

BELMOPAN, Belize, Apr 20, CMC –Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte has a few words of advice for the United States, particularly as it relates to dealing with its drug problem.

“I have …said that the US also needs to work on their demand, maybe if they will stop using so much drugs, we wouldn’t be selling any, according to them,” Peyrefitte told television viewers here on Thursday night after acknowledging that he had now fully read the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report released by the US State Department late last month.

Michael-Peyrefitte
Michael Peyrefitte

In the report, Washington named four Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries as major illicit drug-producing countries. It noted that the Bahamas, Belize, Haiti and Jamaica were also major drug-transit countries.

According to Washington, a major illicit drug-producing country is one in which 1,000 hectares or more of illicit opium poppy is cultivated or harvested during a year; 1,000 hectares or more of illicit coca is cultivated or harvested during a year; or 5,000 hectares or more of illicit cannabis is cultivated or harvested during a year.

But Peyrefitte said that the United States has ‘not presented to us any evidence why is it they believe that.

“It’s based on what? Based on what they are saying we are a major transshipment point of drugs? We don’t have any information from them as to what is the foundation of that analysis. They don’t share any information with us.

‘If they know, if the US knows who is bringing drugs into Belize, then let us know and we will arrest those people because drugs are illegal. So, what information do they have that they are not telling us about? We don’t know.

“But like I said, that is their opinion. It is a black eye, yes, because they are an elephant and we are a flea in world politics and geo-politics. But at the same time I think it is very unfair and very cowardly that you would pass a judgment like that on Belize without any evidence to show on what based that opinion on,” the Attorney General said.

He said that the Dean Barrow government has daily contact with Washington but that “they tend to want information but don’t give information.

“As long as we are not treated equally or operate on an equal footing, then what can we do? All we can do is to try and fight crime the best that we can.
“If there is an illegal activity, we go to stomp it out and we bring the people to court, they have their day in court and the justice systems decides. But until then, I do not accept any other country’s assessment on my country without at least trying to do some good with that assessment,” Peyrefitte added.

Several other Caribbean countries have also disputed the US report.

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disability

Four Caribbean countries to benefit from CDB project to aid disability community

 
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Mar 23, CMC – Four Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries will benefit from a project aimed at providing reliable data to inform and strengthen their programming targeting the disabled community.

The CDB said that its board of directors had approved the project to support disability assessments in Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

disability“Under the project, these countries will benefit from workshops designed to train participants in the conduct of disability assessments, disseminate assessment findings and obtain feedback on those findings, and discuss strategies for more effectively addressing disability in the region,” the bank said.

“We know that persons with disabilities continue to face stigma, discrimination and exclusion, and are vulnerable to poverty, despite their ability to function in the society and the economy.

“It is therefore imperative that we invest in creating enabling environments for disabled persons, in order to reduce these vulnerabilities and advance multidimensional progress in the Region,” said Daniel Best, CDB Director of Projects.

He said this developmental focus forms an important part of fulfilling regional and national commitments, and is a critical linchpin of the ‘no one left behind’ principle that underpins the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

People with Disabilities (PWDs) as defined in Article 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disibilities, include “those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments, which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

The CDB said that these barriers include inaccessible infrastructure, inaccessible communication, limited reasonable accommodation and assistive aides, stereotypes, and weak enforcement of treaty, legislative and policy commitments.

CDB said through the disability assessment project, seeks to minimise these barriers by addressing disability data deficits in the region.

The region’s premier financial institution said it aims to achieve this by providing robust disability data in social, economic and political domains; examining the differential impact of disability and its intersection with other vulnerabilities associated with sex, age cohort, – children, youth, elderly and working age), ethnicity, and race (as relevant – and identifying constraints and enablers to equal participation of PWDs compared with persons without disabilities in growth sectors of the formal and informal economy.

In addition, it will also be examining vulnerabilities to natural disasters, economic shocks and climate change.

The first phase of the intervention is scheduled to commence in 2018 and is expected to be implemented over a 30-month period. The findings of the assessments will enable CDB to develop more targeted evidence-based projects and knowledge products and services to support disability mainstreaming in the Region, and will identify opportunities for development cooperation between CDB, its BMCs and other development partners.

The CDB said that the other countries in the Caribbean will benefit under a subsequent phase of the project.

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