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Poverty on the rise in Barbados – survey

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Sep. 14, CMC  – A new study has found that poverty is on the rise in Barbados with  17.5 percent of the population living in poverty, up from 15.1 percent in 2010.

The findings of the Barbados Survey of Living Conditions 2016-2017, were officially released on Wednesday.

povertyThe survey was carried out among 7,100 Barbadians from 2,500 households in 11 parishes.

However the study found that the number of Barbadians living in extreme poverty has fallen by almost half from 6.8 percent in 2010 – when the last survey was conducted to 3.6 per cent in 2016, while those living in non-extreme poverty more than tripled from 3.8 percent to 13.8 percent.

The survey, funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and undertaken in collaboration with the Barbados Statistical Service between February 2016 and January 2017, also showed that Barbadians were generally more vulnerable to poverty, as that category of persons increased from 10.4 per cent to 11 per cent.

IDB Project Leader Diether Beuermann Mendoza  who presented the findings during a Skype presentation said that a significant gender gap also exists.

He said  not only do women head 57 percent of households in Barbados, they also account for a significant percentage of the island’s poor when compared to men.

The study also revealed that the rich households have smaller families and a link was made between poverty and low-quality dwellings, such as those without flush toilets, running water and electricity.


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The medical team prepares to board the Cayman Airways flight to Anguilla, which was chartered for the humanitarian mission. Two nurses from Health City Cayman Islands joined the group of medical professionals from the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority on the relief effort.

Health City Cayman Islands joins hurricane Irma relief effort


by Sarah Munn

The medical team prepares to board the Cayman Airways flight to Anguilla, which was chartered for the humanitarian mission. Two nurses from Health City Cayman Islands joined the group of medical professionals from the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority on the relief effort.

CAYMAN ISLANDS (September 13, 2017) – Health City Cayman Islands is part of a relief effort being coordinated by the Cayman Islands Government to send supplies, medicines and medical staff to Anguilla, a fellow British Overseas Territory.

Dr. Chandy Abraham, CEO and Medical Director of the Caribbean tertiary care hospital, said that Health City and the Cayman Islands community are shocked and saddened at the level of devastation in the northeastern Caribbean.

“We want to send our support to our Caribbean family who have been impacted by Hurricane Irma,” said Dr. Abraham, who added that the Caymanian community is being mobilized to provide aid and relief to help the affected islands in their recovery efforts.

Health City Cayman Islands staff load boxes of much-needed medicines for transport to Anguilla as part of a relief mission led by the Cayman Islands Government.

Dr. Abraham explained that medical relief efforts will center first on the critically ill and injured in Anguilla, where one person is known to have died as a result of Hurricane Irma. Housing and infrastructure have also been severely damaged there.

Health City has sent three staff members and more than US$30,000 in medicines to the hurricane-ravaged island. The Health City personnel have joined with staff from the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority, Hazard Management Cayman Islands and the Department of Environmental Health to form the relief mission.

A Cayman Airways flight loaded with relief supplies, medical and disaster management staff, medicines, water and non-perishable foods departed Grand Cayman for Anguilla on Tuesday, September 12 at 11 a.m.

Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin announced the government-led relief mission on Monday, September 11, the 13th anniversary of the landfall of Category 5 Hurricane Ivan in the Cayman Islands in 2004. The island of Grand Cayman was severely damaged by that storm.

Premier McLaughlin said: “Most of us know too well the devastation and despair that arises in the wake of a hurricane, especially those of us who lived through our own catastrophic storms of Ivan in 2004 and Paloma in 2008. We know well it was our neighbors from the region and our families and friends who ensured that we got much-needed supplies. It is time for us to pay it forward.”

The relief team from the Cayman Islands is scheduled to remain in Anguilla for two weeks.

The Cayman Islands Government has also provided post-Irma assistance to fellow British Overseas Territories, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands in the form of police equipment and staff. 

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Nell Greenfieldboyce 2010

Be Smart: A Partial Eclipse Can Fry Your Naked Eyes



Left: A partial solar eclipse, as viewed from the Cotswolds, United Kingdom, March 2015. Right: A total solar eclipse, as viewed from Longyearbyen, Norway, March 2015.

Tim Graham/Getty Images/Haakon Mosvold Larsen/AFP/Getty Images

The day of the long-awaited coast-to-coast solar eclipse has all but arrived — and if history is any guide, it’s likely that somebody’s eyes are going to get hurt.

“The ones we’re really concerned about are the people who have never seen an eclipse before — or just decided that, you know, ‘Today is a nice day to go take a look at a solar eclipse’ — and, ‘Oh, I probably don’t need to do very much to get ready to do that.’ Then I get worried,” says Ralph Chou, an optometrist and vision scientist at the University of Waterloo in Canada. He has seen 18 total solar eclipses.

You really can get blurred vision or blind spots after watching partial eclipses without protection, says Chou, even if there’s just a tiny little crescent of sun left in the sky.

“I’ve seen a couple of patients over the years where, you know, you’ve got very distinct crescent-shaped scars from looking at a solar eclipse,” says Chou.

It is never safe to look directly at a partial eclipse without special eclipse glasses or filters — and most of the country will see only a partial eclipse.

The risk of injury to the eye’s retina is even greater if you if you look at a partial eclipse without protection through a telescope or binoculars, Chou warns.

“The damage,” he says, “can happen extremely quickly.”

Binoculars and telescopes need special filters — it is not safe to look through them while just wearing regular old eclipse glasses. It is safe, however, to put eclipse glasses over your everyday prescription eyewear.

And if you never got around to buying the right sort of protective eclipse glasses, you can still safely “watch” the event projected on a wall or the ground, NASA reminds us, with the help of an index card, a bit of aluminum foil and some tape.


Because of the way the light exposure damages cells of the retina, says Chou, a person who has suffered eye damage typically does not realize that there’s any problem for hours after the eclipse.

Experience from past eclipses suggests that it’s been younger people who seem more likely to ignore safety warnings, says Chou.

“It does tend to be young males,” he says. “Teens to early 20s — the ones who don’t think about any protection for a number of different circumstances.”

But don’t be so stressed out about eye safety that you miss the dramatic event known as totality. If you’re lucky enough to be in the thin stretch of land across the country that’s going to see a total solar eclipse, it’s absolutely OK to look up with your naked eyes during the couple of minutes or so when the moon is completely covering the sun. In fact, it’s more than OK.

“It is spectacularly beautiful and there’s nothing else like it,” says Rick Fienberg, press officer for the American Astronomical Society, who has seen a dozen total solar eclipses. “It’s kind of like falling in love. You can’t describe what that is unless you’ve experienced it.”

When the sun completely blinks out, the safety glasses can come off so that you can enjoy the view of the sun’s otherworldly corona and the eerie daytime darkness. But the instant a sliver of sun starts to re-emerge, he says, those glasses need to go back on if you want to keep watching.

“Going through life without seeing a total eclipse of the sun would be like going through life without ever falling in love,” says Fienberg. “It would be a terrible shame not to have that fundamental, wonderful experience.”

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Three quarters of osteoarthritis sufferers say they are in constant pain

Arthritis in knees is a preventable disease, scientists discover

The Times

Three quarters of osteoarthritis sufferers say they are in constant pain
Three quarters of osteoarthritis sufferers say they are in constant pain REX FEATURES

Arthritis in the knees is a preventable disease rather than an inevitable consequence of wear and ageing, a study has concluded.

The condition is twice as common today as it was before the Second World War, according to researchers who put the increase down to lifestyle changes such as diet or footwear, as well as people getting fatter and living longer.

Osteoarthritis is a painful disease of the joints, affecting 8.8 million people in Britain aged above 45. More than 18 per cent of this group have the disorder in their knees. Yet scientists who studied more than 2,500 skeletons, from prehistoric hunter-gatherers to the present, discovered that rates of osteoarthritis had surged over the past few decades after centuries of stability.

Daniel Lieberman, professor of biological sciences at Harvard University and a senior author of the paper, said that many cases could be averted if doctors could determine what had driven the change over the past 70 years. The researchers are investigating whether factors such as physical inactivity, diets loaded with refined sugars, the shoes we wear and even the hardness of pavements could lie behind the increase.

“Knee osteoarthritis is not a necessary consequence of old age,” Professor Lieberman said. “We should think of this as a partly preventable disease. Wouldn’t it be great if people could live to be 60, 70 or 80 and never get knee osteoarthritis in the first place? Right now, our society is barely focusing on prevention . . . so we need to redirect more interest toward preventing this and other so-called diseases of ageing.”

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage protecting the ends of bones gets rougher and thinner, leading to changes in the joint tissues. Eventually, if the cartilage wears so thin that it no longer covers the ends of the bones, they rub against each other, heightening pain, changing the shape of the joint and shifting the bones out of position. Three quarters of those with osteoarthritis say that they are in constant pain. Treatment is generally limited to painkillers or steroid injections into the joint. For severe cases, the only further option is an artificial joint. In 2015 people with the condition accounted for 98 per cent of patients having a first knee replacement.

Ian Wallace, the study’s lead author, visited collections of human remains across the United States to look for the glass-like polish that the condition leaves on the thigh and shin bones over years of rubbing against each other. Rates of knee osteoarthritis among the over-50s appear hardly to have changed between the native Americans 3,000 years ago and the inhabitants of Ohio and Missouri in the first half of the 20th century. After the war, however, they more than doubled. The trend, set out in the journal PNAS, remained even after the researchers corrected for age and body-mass index.

“There are probably a lot of contributing factors,” Dr Wallace said, “but . . . two conspicuous ones are physical inactivity and the abundance of proinflammatory foods in our diet — especially really sugary things.”

Philip Conaghan, professor of musculoskeletal medicine and a spokesman for the charity Arthritis Research UK, welcomed the study. “The more we know about what causes it, the closer we will be to finding more effective treatments and even a cure,” he said. “We absolutely agree that there should be more focus on prevention.”

How to keep healthy knees

  • Exercise regularly, both to strengthen your muscles and to maintain aerobic fitness. But don’t overdo it: if your joints are swollen or painful, rest them before exercising again
  • Maintain a healthy weight, or lose weight if you are too heavy. Extra weight increases the stress on your joints
  • Avoid repetitive motions that are tough on your joints, such as excessive kneeling, twisting, or lifting
  • Regulate your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. Research has implicated diabetes as a risk factor for osteoarthritis

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A review found huge variations in treatments, with low-performing hospitals often ignorant about methods adopted elsewhere

NHS must cut waste if it wants more cash

Hospitals can save billions, says authoritative report

A review found huge variations in treatments, with low-performing hospitals often ignorant about methods adopted elsewhere
A review found huge variations in treatments, with low-performing hospitals often ignorant about methods adopted elsewherePAUL ROGERS/THE TIMES

The NHS does not deserve more money because it wastes so much on poor care, according to the senior surgeon who has the job of driving up standards.

The health service must put its house in order before asking for extra taxpayers’ cash, said Tim Briggs, who is conducting the most comprehensive clinical efficiency audit of the NHS yet undertaken.

His review found huge variations in the cost and quality of common treatments, with low-performing hospitals routinely ignorant about superior methods adopted elsewhere.

The NHS could save hundreds of millions, if not billions, a year if the best and most efficient practices were applied across the country, Professor Briggs concluded.

His programme is backed by the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who urged hospitals yesterday to act on the findings, as well as Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England.

More than 300,000 patients a year are needlessly admitted to emergency surgery beds when they do not need an operation, Professor Briggs’s team found after visiting every hospital in the country.

If all hospitals copied the best units by getting a consultant to run tests quickly, many of these patients would be sent home immediately, freeing up a ward in each hospital and saving the NHS £108 million a year. “I’ve now been to every single trust in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and there is significant waste out there,” Professor Briggs told The Times. “I do not think at the moment we deserve more money until we put our house in order and we actually make the changes that will improve the quality of care.”

Waiting times are lengthening as hospitals struggle to treat rising numbers of patients with finances that have not kept pace with an ageing population. Many in the NHS have used the inconclusive general election result to press the case for more money.

Yet Professor Briggs and the leading surgeon John Abercrombie report that in bowel-cancer surgery alone death rates vary from zero to 14 per cent, while hospitals are spending £23 million a year too much by keeping in patients for ten days when the best send them home in five days.

Some hospitals are paying 350 times more for basic surgical equipment than others for no clear reason, while there is no consensus about the best way to carry out some common procedures.

Today’s general surgery report is one of the first instalments in a project looking at 34 specialisms covering 90 per cent of hospital activity and Professor Briggs said there were “huge gains to be made”. For example, infection rates in hip replacements are 25 times higher in some hospitals than others, he found. “If you could get the infection rate across the country down to 0.2 per cent just in hip and knee replacements, you’d save the NHS every year £250 million [to] £300 million, just by improving the quality of care,” he said.

Mistakes in childbirth cost the NHS more than £400 million a year in legal claims, yet some hospitals pay out only £75 per birth rising to £6,980 at the worst performer, Professor Briggs found.

While saying that social care was different, Professor Briggs insisted that the NHS had to make sure that “every pound of taxpayers’ money was spent to the best effect. Then, once we’ve got that, we can speak to the politicians as the population ages about whether the NHS needs more money. But at the moment there are significant changes we can make to improve our practice that will allow us to do a lot more work with the amount of money we have.”

Mr Hunt urged hospitals to adopt the findings, saying: “By reducing variation we can improve care and eliminate waste at the same time. As this excellent work led by Professor Tim Briggs shows, some hospitals are already working smarter with their money to save time and get better outcomes.”

Mr Stevens has demanded more efficiencies as part of a £22 billion savings programme but has also argued that cost-cutting will not be enough on its own to do everything the NHS wants.

Professor Briggs began his “getting-it-right-first-time” programme in orthopaedic surgery and it has been formally adopted as a national scheme by NHS Improvement, the financial regulator, where he is now national director of clinical quality and efficiency.

Specialists in each area gather data from hospitals then sit down and discuss individual results with clinical staff in each unit, learning from the best and helping poor performers improve. “Just putting it in a drawer and forgetting about it is no longer an option,” he said.

Profile: Tim Briggs
After a long and distinguished career as a hip and knee surgeon, Tim Briggs admits that he is out of his comfort zone as a crusader for NHS clinical efficiency (Chris Smyth writes).

Yet the former Blackheath rugby forward does not flinch from tackling colleagues.

A consultant at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital since 1992, Professor Briggs grew used to seeing patients with complications caused by botched surgery. It was obvious not everywhere was doing as well as they could.

In 2012 as the president-elect of the British Orthopaedic Association, he gathered data on all orthopaedic units, visiting them to discuss their results. It is this, he insists, that makes the “getting it right first time” programme different from the plethora of audits the NHS has seen come and go.

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CDB grant to build regional capacity for climate forecasting

BRIDGETOWN,Barbados,  Jul. 26, CMC  –  The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has  approved EUR773,000 (US$900,264) in grant funding to enhance regional resilience to climate variability and change.

The grant will be provided to the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), and will be used to strengthen national and regional institutional capacity for weather and climate forecasting.

weather According to Cheryl DIxon, the Coordinator in the CDB’s Environmental Sustainability unit, severe weather events produce some of the most significant negative socio-economic impacts in the region and climate change is predicted to increase both the frequency and intensity of these events.

“Without appropriate mitigation and adaptation measures, these events will continue to hamper the development of the region. Equipping policy-planners and the most vulnerable communities with early climate/weather information and advisories to anticipate climate-related shocks and changes is crucial to inform planning for climate resilience and disaster risk management,” she said.

CIMH has been using a Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Platform to provide weather predictions for the Caribbean.

The project will provide training for regional stakeholders in using the WRF platform, as well as training in marine forecasting.

The project will also facilitate the development of climate early warning systems for regional public health sectors.

Climate variability is a significant driver of mosquito borne diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya and zika, as the Aedes aegypti mosquito has been shown to increase in numbers during warmer and wetter weather conditions.

The CDB says early predictions will assist health sector planning to reduce the occurrences of infection.

Funding is being provided under the African Caribbean Pacific-European Union-Caribbean Development Bank Natural Disaster Risk Management (ACP-EU-CDB NDRM) Programme.

The ACP-EU-CDB NDRM Programme is an initiative of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, funded by the European Union. It supports disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation activities in the CARIFORUM countries.

The project also aligns with CDB’s strategic objective of supporting inclusive and sustainable growth and development.

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Jules Unicef

OECS and UNICEF sign five year agreement

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Jun 28, CMC – The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has signed a five-year agreement with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to jointly promote child-centred programmes in the sub-region.

Under the agreement signed by OECS Director General, Dr. Didicus Jules, and UNICEF Representative, Khin-Sandi Lwin, the two organisations will cooperate on a number of activities including education, justice, child protection and social policies.

Jules Unicef
OECS Director General, Dr. Didicus Jules, and UNICEF
Representative, Khin-Sandi Lwin.

Data collection on child-specific issues is also part of the agreement.

Jules said that the agreement embodies the ongoing commitment of both organisations to safeguard the future of the region’s youth through empowerment programmes and data collection for development.

“As one of our key development partners, we share a common vision with UNICEF to ensure our youth are exposed to healthy atmospheres conducive to growth and optimal development.”

 “This is an opportunity to strengthen bonds as we work collaboratively to tackle the challenges facing many of the sub region’s youth,” he added.

Lwin said that this is the second multi-year agreement being signed with the OECS Commission and UNCIEF views the St. Lucia-based organisation as a very important partner and key player in influencing the child rights agenda.

“We have some very positive and tangible results from our previous collaboration and I have no doubt that this renewed partnership will continue to put the children’s agenda high on the priority of all member states,” she said, highlighting some of the past achievements as the OECS Model Child Bills, which several countries have adapted to reform and modernise their suite of child protection laws as well as the work in promoting quality early childhood development services.

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haiti children drugs

Haiti worried at abuse of illegal drugs in schools and homes


PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, Jun 25, CMC – The National Commission for the Fight Against Drugs (CONALD), says it is perturbed at the “appalling” abuse of illegal drugs in schools, homes and in the country in general.

Haiti is joining the international community in observing the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and CONALD co-ordinator Lener Renauld said the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country is facing an uphill battle to deal with the drug epidemic here.

He said while the Commission does not intend to have any high profile activities to mark the occasion of it wishes to “invite everyone, in order to counter, as far as possible, the overwhelming consequences that strangle the Haitian youth”.

He said CONALD is “appalled” by the “abuse of drugs, in our schools, our universities, in the homes as in the streets” but it is nonetheless assuring the population of the fight “in accordance with the priorities established by the Head of State and in accordance with the general policy of the Government”.

The Commission said it welcomes the efforts of the law enforcement institutions working together to “stem the scourge of drugs and calls for the involvement of Haitian society, with a view to a citizen mobilization for a solidary and responsible contribution.

“It should be recalled that the World Drug Report (2017), published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), highlights new forms of correlation between the global cycle of drug trafficking, cybercrime and terrorism,” the Commission noted.

Renauld said he wanted to give the international community the assurance that Haiti would continue the fight against illegal drugs “and will actively commit itself in accordance with agreements on combating drugs, money laundering and the financing of terrorism”.


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Cocaine found inside back seat cushion of wheelchair

Arriving passenger from St Lucia arrested at JFK after cocaine found hidden in wheelchair

June 14, 2017  
NEW YORK, USA — US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) on June 11 stopped Yoncela Stanley, a United States citizen, who was arriving on a flight from Saint Lucia.

Cocaine found inside back seat cushion of wheelchair

During the course of the inspection, CBP officers noticed that the back seat cushion of her wheelchair appeared unusual. The back seat cushion was removed and felt unusually heavy. CBP officers probed the cushion producing a white powder that tested positive for cocaine.

Stanley was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations.

The total weight of cocaine seized was approximately 27 lbs, with an estimated street value of $468,000.

“This latest seizure demonstrates the vigilance of our CBP officers, and their excellence in detecting those who would try to smuggle these illegal substances,” said Leon Hayward, acting director, field operations New York.

Stanley now faces federal narcotics smuggling charges and will be prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office in the US Eastern District Court of New York.

All defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty.


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AIDS Haiti

Regional legislators to meet in Jamaica to discuss HIV/AIDS issues

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 29, CMC – Jamaica will host a five-day conference that will allow regional parliamentarians to assess their role in promoting healthy living and well-being for all ages in the Caribbean.

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck will deliver the feature address at the May 30 to June 3 PANCAP Regional Parliamentarians Forum that has attracted legislators from  Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

AIDS HaitiThe forum will also be attended by the Deputy Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat; Manorma Soeknandan, the Assistant Secretary-General, Directorate for Human and Social Development; Dr. Douglas Slater as well as Dr. Edward Greene, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV and AIDS in the Caribbean; Canon Garth Minott, Chair of The Regional Consultative Steering Committee for the Implementation of Recommendations to end AIDS by 2030

Officials from the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC), Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CariFLAGS), Caribbean Sex Work Coalition (CSWC) and the Caribbean Network of People Living with HIV (CRN+) will be in attendance.

The organisers said that the focus of the forum will be a discussion on the targets of the Political Declaration of June 2016 and the implications for parliaments in the Caribbean.

Parliamentarians are also expected to establish the foundations for increased engagement with national parliaments and national parliamentary committees on Health/Social Protection and on Justice especially in countries such as Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, which have higher HIV prevalence rates.

The delegates will also use the forum to assess their role in promoting healthy living and well-being for all ages in the region; identify the constitutional challenges posed by the criminalisation of sex between consenting adults and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation and suggest strategies that parliamentarians can adopt to advocate for the end AIDS by 2030.

 Parliamentarians will also be updated on global best practices related to parliamentarians’ engagement on these issues.

The forum will take into consideration the targets established in the United Nations High Level Meeting Political Declaration June 2016 on ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) approved by 192 nations at the United Nations (UN) in September 2015.

The five-day forum, which is funded by the Global Fund and facilitated by the PANCAP Coordinating Unit and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), forms part of a wider intervention programme created by PANCAP within its Justice For All (JFA) Roadmap.

The JFA was initiated in 2013 by PANCAP, based on consultations with faith leaders, civil society, youth, the private sector and parliamentarians.

The organisers said that the Regional Parliamentarians Forum is expected to result in the formation of significant strategies, which will inform the critical steps regional parliamentarians can implement to contribute effectively to ending HIV transmission and deaths from AIDS.

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