Archive | Health

Hon Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

National AIDS programme managers, civil society leaders and development partners commit…

 

 

 …to support country ownership for HIV response sustainability  – stakeholders call for more attention to be paid to vulnerable groups in the context of declining external support

Hon Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, concluded the Sixth Meeting of National AIDS Programme (NAP) Managers and Key Partners in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday, 14 March 2018. The meeting came two years ahead of the 2020 deadline for reaching the 90-90-90 targets—90% of people living with HIV diagnosed, 90% of diagnosed people on treatment and 90% of those on treatment virally suppressed.
 
The forum opened on Monday March 12 with a Feature Address by the Honourable Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Minister Deyalsingh noted that in light of reduced technical and financial support from international partners, the region must collectively mobilize domestic resources especially for the support of prevention and the elimination of HIV-related stigma and discrimination among key and vulnerable populations.
 
These sentiments were echoed by the participants including National AIDS Programme (NAP) Managers, Chief Medical Officers, Permanent Secretaries, development, and implementing partners, including civil society organizations that work with people living with HIV and key population groups and youth.  
 
In closing remarks, Dr. Nikkiah Forbes, Director, National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Diseases Programme at the Bahamas Ministry of Health, proposed integration of HIV care into other healthcare services in order to assure sustainability of the HIV response.  She highlighted that participants recognized integration as one potential solution for improving the accessibility of health services and suggested that it could help countries meet the demand for increased HIV-related treatment, care and support services in the context of scaling up to “Treat All”. (“Treat All” involves offering treatment to all people diagnosed with HIV regardless of CD4 count.)    
 
“Caribbean countries are diverse and integration will need to be tailored for each country context,” stated Dr Forbes, “HIV should never have been completely separated from the health agenda and synergies need to be fostered with sexual reproductive health services”.
 
She further stated that integration requires healthcare worker training on “Treat All” as well as the meaningful and sustained involvement of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). For example, there should be leadership and inclusion of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and key populations on the prevention, treatment and care needs of their communities.  Dr. Forbes noted that there should be a focus on quality of care, with steps taken to ensure that members of key populations can access sexual and reproductive health services including HIV and AIDS prevention. 
 
She posited that to achieve integration the region should conduct south-to-south collaborations and draw on regional expertise for training healthcare workers on the front-line response.   
 
Dr Forbes emphasized the integral role of civil society organizations, “CSOs we have not forgotten you”, she stated. “You must be placed and supported in the planning and implementation process which only strengthens the argument for the need for social contracting and crystalizing this in policy.  This is how we will sustain the regional response”.  
 
She concluded with an urgent plea for heightened government involvement in funding the HIV response. She advocated that governments need to own the HIV response and in owning it, they need to make the investments needed to reach the prevention, testing and treatment targets that will set the region on course to end AIDS by 2030.
 
“I make a respectful but urgent plea to our governments to commit to, as well as finance, their National and Regional AIDS response”, stated Dr Forbes. “Without an urgent strategy to sustain the response we risk leaving many vulnerable groups behind and undoing the gains we have made in reducing HIV transmission”.  
 
 

 

 

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Mott McDonald

De Ole Dawg – Part 1: 2018 – What are Montserrat’s Economic realities, challenges and opportunities?

How can we build on the research published in the December 15, 2017 Mott-MacDonald Draft Economic Growth Strategy document?

BRADES, Montserrat – As we all know, Montserrat’s economy took a very hard blow from the volcano disaster. That was multiplied by gaps and delays in emergency management response and the resulting loss of 2/3 of our population. We also lost access to 2/3 of our land, much of our key infrastructure and therefore a big slice of our productive capacity. So, if we are to soundly rebuild Montserrat’s economy we need to soundly understand what happened to us. This makes the December 15, 2017, Mott-MacDonald Draft Economic Growth Strategy document[1] doubly important. Here, let us look at an adjusted version of one of their tables, with some additional calculations:

This table tells our economic story by making a comparison between our economy in 1994 and in 2016, with a telling side-light from the Antigua Economy:

  • Our economy (in “real” terms) as indicated by Gross Domestic Product (GDP)[2] is just over half as big as it was on the eve of the volcano disaster.
  • Apart from Finance and Transport, the private sector collapsed well beyond the 50% or so that would imply just a scaling down; in some sectors it is less than 20% of what it was.
  • The structure of our economy has clearly changed drastically, due to a dramatic collapse of key productive sectors.[3]
  • It has stayed there for many years because of a want of investor confidence and lack of key growth-enabling infrastructure that we are still fighting to put in place over twenty years later.
  • The public sector has more than doubled as a percent of our economy, moving from 19.3% in 1994 to 45.8% in 2016. (This reflects the impact of the annual UK grants under the legally binding UN Charter Article 73 obligation to “ensure . . . advancement” and to “promote . . . development.” As the 2012 FCO OT’s White Paper shows, this is the main reason for the longstanding UK policy that “reasonable assistance needs” of OT’s have “a first call” on the UK’s International Development Budget. [Cf. pp. 13 and 17.])
  • As a result, our GDP is not a “natural” one driven by a buoyant private sector, it reflects this annual support to our economy. Such is not sustainable.
  • In simple terms, if we are to return the same level of public sector to being 20% of our economy in 20 years, our economy would have to more than double, from EC$153 millions to EC$ 350 millions.
  • A compound interest calculation (yes, CXC Maths is good enough) will show this requires an average growth rate of 4.2%.
  • So, it is reasonable for Mott-MacDonald to target a 3 – 5% annual GDP growth rate. ECCB would prefer to see 5 – 7%.
  • However, if Montserrat is to move ahead, we must put in place key infrastructure, build our productive capacity,[4] provide incentives and reassurance that will rebuild investor confidence, and support a wave of enterprises that take advantage of our major opportunities: tourism, geothermal energy, the rising global digital services economy, and the like.[5]
  • A comparison with Antigua and Barbuda will show that on a per person (“per capita”) basis, our average income has increased by 13%. However, while in 1994 we were at 105% of the Antigua figure, by 2016 we fell to 98% of the increased Antigua figure. (As, Antigua’s GDP/Capita rose by 21% in the same twenty-two years whilst ours rose by only 13%.)
  • this strongly suggests that DfID has had a basic yardstick for annual support under “reasonable assistance needs,” keeping us on a comparable level to Antigua.
  • DfID Ministers and Officers have also repeatedly made it clear that unless they see sound proposals, credible capacity and sound governance reforms (including of financial management) they will not have good reason to invest in major infrastructure projects.
  • This brings us back to the need for a charter of good governance working with a development partnership memorandum of Understanding that will lay out how we are going to move ahead together.

With that in hand, let us briefly look at a modified SWOT table from the Mott-MacDonald study:

Glorified common sense, almost a no-brainer once we see the sort of data we now have in hand. Any economic development framework going forward must reckon with these issues and opportunities. That means we have a basis for national consensus, so let us now move forward together. 

[1]           See GoM: http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Growth-Strategy-Delivery-Plan-2017-DRAFT-.pdf

[2]           See Investopedia: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/gdp.asp

[3]           See TMR reference resource:  https://ia902707.us.archive.org/11/items/EconomicsForDummies_/EconomicsForDummies.pdf

[4]           See TMR, DoD: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/22132-2/

[5]           See TMR, DoD: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/de-ole-dawg-part10-contribution/

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Floyd Green

Government provides counseling,relief following fire at children’s home

 

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Jan. 16, CMC – The Government is providing counselling and relief supplies for children and staff of the Walker’s Place of Safety following a massive fire here late Monday that claimed the lives of two children.

Floyd Green
Floyd Green

“The Walker’s Place of Safety was completely destroyed by fire late last night. The loss is quite devastating as two children died in the fire. Steps are being taken to contact the parents and to start counselling for them,” said Floyd Green, the junior minister in the Education Ministry.

He told the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) that counselling is being provided for the displaced children and staff because, “as you can imagine, they are completely devastated”.

He noted that “the priority now is to guide them through this difficult time and ensure that we get the essential items that they need. We have already started to get critical supplies, such as medication for those children who are ill. We are moving now to find a suitable location, so that we can move the children and ensure that they are more comfortable”.

Green said investigations have been launched to determine the cause of the blaze, which destroyed the privately owned facility located on Lyndhurst Road in the Corporate Area.

The place of safety serves as a transitional residence for children, generally up to 12 years old, who have been abandoned or removed from their homes because of unstable conditions.

“The fire service has also commenced their investigation. We are awaiting their report. The Child Protection and Family Services Agency will also do their own investigation to see what transpired,” Green said.

Posted in Environment, Health, Kids, Local, News, Regional, Youth0 Comments

sugarra

Beverage manufacturers urged to cut sugar content

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Jan 13, CMC – Jamaica’s Finance Minister Audley Shaw has  issued an appeal to beverage manufacturers to lower the sugar content in their products or force the Government to take action.

sugarraShaw, who was addressing a scientific symposium on fiscal measures to prevent obesity/non-communicable diseases (NCD), on Thursday, said they can either respond voluntarily “or we as a Government can respond to the needs of the country through appropriate policy prescriptions.”

“There has to be a willingness on the part of the producers of beverages to lead the way, set the examples. Don’t wait for the tax act to force you to do it. They need to start reducing the sugar contents even before fiscal measures are contemplated,” he added.

He said that the Government is concerned about the sugar content of products being marketed to children.

He noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that countries implement guidelines as it relates to the production of food and beverages in order to reduce the amount of sugar, and imposing taxes to encourage manufacturers to take the appropriate actions.

The Minister pointed out that policy measures already being implemented by countries across the region are reducing the amount of sweet beverages provided to schoolchildren and, ultimately, having a positive impact on the social and economic fabric of such societies.

Shaw said that although several programmes have been initiated to reduce NCDs, a more aggressive stance is needed to get more partners to join the fight in reducing the lifestyle-related diseases.

He argued that with Jamaica spending US$170 million annually on chronic diseases, the country must act so that more funds can be available for infrastructure improvement to health facilities and the upgrading of healthcare services.

Urging action from beverage manufacturers, the Finance Minister noted that they are armed with research about the “impact of your product on your consumers. We want you to be more responsible in what you include in these products.”

He also urged consumers to “put themselves in informed positions to make healthy choices, because it is your health that is impacted.”

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C M O Dr Kernanet-Huggins - 2014

Hospital plans ready to go in 2014

Below is a video presentation (one of very few) hosted by Mrs. Sujue Davis at Government House, where Chief Medical Officer Dr

Former C M O Dr Kernanet-Huggins – 2014

Kernanet-Huggins explained the hospital plans, consulted, discussed and approved, ready for the hospital which was to be completed by 2017. Now in 2018 we are now asked to look at options for another study.

So how do they compare and then the question why a new study? True the new study is said to have incorporated parts of the previous. What difference the cost of that money would have made if put into the things which would give us a better hospital?

To come are a few pictures of one of the many ‘fine’ hospitals in the UK. Remembering that prior 1994 there was a spanking new Glendon hospital next door to the old hospital…

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alcohol contam

killed after drinking home-made alcohol

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, Dec 30, CMC – At least 28 people including 15 Haitians were killed after consuming home-made alcohol containing methanol, health authorities have confirmed.

Minister of Public Health, Marie Greta Roy Clement, confirmed the deaths following a visit to the General Hospital, adding that 15 people from the Dominican Republic had also died.

alcohol contamHealth authorities said that several Haitians have been hospitalized and at least two of them have lost their eyesight.

The confirmation of the deaths come a day after the Departmental Health issued an alert relating to cases of intoxication and deaths following the consumption of adulterated methanol in several border municipalities including Los Cacaos, Las Carreras and Saltadère.

Clement and her colleague Pierre Marie du Meny, the Minister of Commerce had also warned the population against the consumption of any liquor based on methanol.

“The two ministries are deeply concerned by this situation and that concrete steps are being taken on the ground to stem this recurring problem before it spreads to other parts of the country,” they said in a statement, adding that efforts have been stepped up to deal with the situation  especially during this period of end-of-year celebrations.

The Directorate of Civil Protection said that several cases of intoxication due to the consumption of adulterated alcohol have been recorded in several districts and is urging “people to take a lot of care in what they drink during the holiday season.”

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Haile Thomas

Jamaican American named CNN ‘Young Wonder of the Year’

ATLANTA, Dec. 28, CMC – The Atlanta, Georgia-based Cable News Network (CNN) has named a Jamaican-American among its five “Young Wonders of the Year.”

Haile Thomas, 17, who lives in New Windsor, a town in Orange County, Upstate New York, was named by the network on its “Young Wonders: A CNN Heroes Special.”

All five “CNN Young Wonders” were also be honored during “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute.”

Haile ThomasCNN has described Thomas as “a teen health activist,” stating that her  “HAPPY organisation”  is leading the next generation toward a healthier future by bringing cooking lessons and nutrition education to children in underserved areas.”

The popular network said the five “extraordinary young people” are “making a difference in their communities.

“Their inspiring stories serve as reminders that you are never too young to change the world,” CNN said.

It said Thomas is an international speaker, health activist, vegan food and lifestyle influencer, podcaster, the youngest Certified Integrative Health Coach in the United States, and the founder/chief executive officer of the nonprofit HAPPY (Healthy Active Positive Purposeful Youth).

Thomas said on her website that she founded HAPPY when she was 12 years old to “address the need for free/affordable plant-based nutrition and culinary education in underserved/at-risk communities, as well as in schools and through annual summer camps.”

She said she has personally engaged over 15,000 kids since beginning her activism in 2010, stating that she was inspired to pursue this passion after her family successfully reversed her father’s type-2 diabetes “without the use of medication, only healthy eating and lifestyle choices, and upon learning that kids were also increasingly being diagnosed with conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity.”

Thomas said all of her programmes, projects and initiatives are geared towards engaging, educating, motivating and empowering young people to make healthy lifestyle choices to live their best life.

She also hosts the podcast “Girl Empowered,” interviewing, inspiring and empowering women; “therefore fulfilling its mission to broadcast female voices of empowerment.”

Thomas is one of the first eight young chefs featured on season one of “Rachael vs. Guy Kids-Cook-Off,” and also on “Cupcake Wars Kids,” both airing on the Food Network.

She also worked for two years as the Jr. Chef Advisor for Hyatt Hotel’s “For Kids – By Kids” Menu, with her kids’ menu recipes serving at all Hyatt Resorts in North America and the Caribbean.

Thomas said she has been featured on the “Today Show,” “Dr. Oz,” “Home and Family Show,” and “The Rachael Ray Show,” and highlighted in several major publications, including O magazine, Teen Vogue and YES magazine.

She is the first teen to be featured on the cover of Experience Life Magazine in the October 2016 issue.

Additionally, Thomas said she creates creative and artistic lifestyle and vegan recipe videos through her channel “ Plant-Powered Haile” on YouTube.

Thomas started to work at the Canyon Ranch Institute in 2015 as a nutrition science assistant; and, in 2016, she partnered with the nonprofit Harlem Grown organization to educate people about urban farming, sustainability and nutrition.

Thomas and her family moved from Arizona to New York in September 2016, “so she could expand her business.”

In 2017, Thomas was the youngest graduate of the Integrative Nutrition Health Coach program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

“Nutrition is super important for our growth and development for our brains and our bodies,” Thomas says.

“Haile is an example for all of you, what your little powerful voices can do to change the world,” said former US First Lady Michelle Obama on Thomas’s website.

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Clive-Harveys

Roman Catholic Bishop hospitalised after collapsing during Church service

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Dec 1, CMC – The recently appointed Roman Catholic Bishop of Grenada, Clive Harvey remained hospitalised on Friday after collapsing while conducting service at the Cathedral of immaculate Conception on Thursday.

Bishop Clive Harvey

Catholic Media Service confirmed that Bishop Harvey, who became the second Trinidad and Tobago national to be ordained as the Roman Catholic Bishop of Grenada, succeeding Grenadian, Bishop Vincent Darius, collapsed at the end of a special mass early Thursday.

He was taken to the St. George’s Hospital where he is undergoing various tests with medical officials indicating that the 68-year-old Bishop suffered low blood pressure and extreme dehydration.

Church officials quoted him as saying Friday that all his vital signs were normal and he is in good spirit.

In July, Harvey was appointed to the position replacing Bishop Darius, who had died 15 months earlier.

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Addicted to Your Phone? It Could Throw Off Your Brain Chemistry

Addicted to Your Phone? It Could Throw Off Your Brain Chemistry

Livescience.com
 Credit: baranq/Shutterstock

It’s hard to escape screens; there is a roughly 100 percent chance you are looking at one right now. And though the long-term effects of screen time are still being studied, the effects of excessive internet and smartphone use are well-documented. “Pathological” internet use has been linked to depression in teens, and it may even shrink gray matter.

Now, a small new study suggests that for teens, being hooked on the internet and smartphones may harm brain chemistry, as well.

The research was presented yesterday (Nov. 30) at the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting in Chicago.The paper, which was presented by lead study author Dr. Hyung Suk Seo, a professor of neuroradiology at Korea University in Seoul, South Korea, found an imbalance of chemicals in the brain of “internet-addicted” teenagers. This imbalance was similar to that seen in people experiencing anxiety and depression. [9 Odd Ways Your Tech Devices May Injure You]

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But there’s also good news: The imbalance is reversible in several weeks using a type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy.

In the study, researchers examined the brains of 19 internet- and smartphone-addicted teenagers and 19 nonaddicted teenagers using magnetic resonance spectroscopy, a form of MRI that can reveal changes in the chemical composition of the brain. (Internet and smartphone addiction were measured using standardized questionnaires.)

Compared with the control group, the teens with internet and smartphone addiction showed a clear overabundance of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in one region of the limbic system, the brain’s emotional control center. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning that it blocks nerve cells from firing.

GABA is found in everyone’s brain, but too much of this neurotransmitter in the wrong areas can have stultifying effects.”When the normal function of the limbic system is disturbed, patients can develop anxiety, depression or addiction,” said Dr. Max Wintermark, a professor of radiology and the chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University. Wintermark was not involved with the new research but said that he was intrigued by it because of the increasing prevalence of phones and web devices in society.

“There have been multiple studies published [that link] addiction to alcohol and other substances with chemical imbalances in different regions of the brain, but this is the first study I’ve read about internet addiction” that shows such a link, Wintermark told Live Science.

For most people, checking email first thing in the morning or spending an hour scrolling though Instagram after work does not signify an internet addiction.

Rather, internet addiction, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association, is an excessive use of the internet that leads to impairment of everyday life, sleep and relationships. Studies from around the world have found that the rates of internet addiction in young people range from less than 1 percent to 18 percent.

The teens who participated in Seo’s study all took standardized tests used to diagnose internet and smartphone addiction. The participants whose scores indicated an addiction  tended to saythat their internet and smartphone use interfered with their daily routines, social lives, sleep and productivity. These teenagers also had significantly higher scores in depression, anxiety, insomnia and impulsivity than the control group (the participants whose scores did not indicate internet addiction).

Due to the small sample size used in the study, Wintermark stressed that it’s too early to say that the chemical imbalances observed in the teens’ brains are linked to clinical problems such as anxiety and depression. Further testing on a larger group of people is needed, he said.

Wintermark noted that 12 teens in the study with addiction went on to participate in cognitive behavioral therapy, and after nine weeks, they all showed decreased or normalized levels of GABA in their brains. According to the researchers, those teens completed a modified form of therapy that’s used to treat video game addiction, involving weekly 75-minute sessions of mindfulness exercises. These include recognizing internet impulses, finding alternative activities and expressing emotions.

“With appropriate intervention, the teens were able to basically correct those chemical changes” in their brains, Wintermark said. “That’s the part of the study I find most interesting. It shows there’s hope.”

The study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Originally published on Live Science.

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marijuuu

Guyana to host CARICOM consultations on use of marijuana

 
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Nov 3, CMC – Guyana will host a consultation on the use of marijuana on Monday, November 6, 2017 as part of the efforts by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) governments to conduct careful in-depth research so as to inform decision making on the issue.

The Regional Commission on Marijuana, which was established by CARICOM leaders, will meet with various stakeholders including Youth and Faith-based organizations.

marijuuuThe region-wide consultations are intended to obtain information on the social, economic, health and legal issues related to marijuana use in the Caribbean.

“Such information would, among other outcomes, determine whether there should be a change in the current drug classification, modelled after the UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances for which many, if not all, CARICOM members are party to,” the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat said in a statement.

It said that given that reclassification of the drug would make it legally accessible for all types of use, including religious, recreational, medical and research, the Regional Commission is expected also to provide recommendations on the legal and administrative conditions that will apply, as per its Terms of Reference.

Many Caribbean countries’ legislations do not currently allow for full legislation under international law and national approaches to addressing this issue have resulted in various positions.

In the case of Jamaica, for example, the Dangerous Drugs Act was amended in 2016 and legislation was passed which reduced possession of small quantities to a petty offence. It also created the framework for the development of legal medical marijuana, hemp and nutraceutical industries.

Antigua and Barbuda’s Cabinet agreed, in August 2016, to send a draft law to Parliament for its first reading. In August of this year, Belize introduced an amendment to its Misuse of Drugs Act, to deciminalise the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana.

The proposed legislation also provides for the imposition of monetary and non-recordable penalties for such amounts that are found on school premises in specialized circumstances and decriminalizes the use of the substance in small amounts on private premises.

In other countries there have been widespread public information and communications initiatives driven by both government and civil society.

In addition to national consultations, the Regional Marijuana Commission will undertake extensive secondary research to inform the preparation of reports to be submitted to the CARICOM leaders for its consideration, the Secretariat added.

So far, consultations have taken place in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados and the Secretariat said that national consultations will continue in Suriname, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Belize.

The Commission is headed by Professor Rose-Marie-Bell Antoine, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) and includes practitioners with expert knowledge in a variety of disciplines including medicine and allied health, health research, law enforcement, ethics, education, anthropology/sociology/ culture.

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