Strong CARICOM support for hurricane ravaged Dominica

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CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque (centre in light clothing) poses with regional hurricane relief workers
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Barbados coast guard vessel arrives in Dominica
The Governments and people of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States continue to actively support their sister country Dominica following Monday night’s devastating passage of Category 5 Hurricane Maria.

“We’ve lost all that money can buy”, Prime Minister Roosevelt had disclosed after surveying the widespread damage to houses and infrastructure.  A number of deaths have also been reported.

The government of close neighbour Antigua and Barbuda, while still itself in recovery mode from another Category Five Hurricane, Irma’s destructive passage over Barbuda, made an immediate pledge of US$300,000, to which Tourism Minister Asot Michael added a further US$100,000.  Antigua-Barbuda’s state and private broadcast media, in particular ABS Radio and TV have been providing a critical connection between Dominica’s residents and the rest of the world, especially  during the period when all broadcast and internet services were down. ABS TV  provided the first broadcast by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit to the world after his initial aerial tour of the devastation.

  VIDEO: Prime Minister Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago

Barbados was also quick out the blocks, putting two coast guard vessels at Dominica’s disposal to help transport technical personnel and supplies. The vessels left Bridgetown loaded with water and other emergency supplies donated by Barbadians in heavily supported collection drives.  Barbados has also arranged to provide much needed doctors and nurses to assist with critical medical services.

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Emergency supplies arrive via coast guard vessel
With rural communities cut off by damaged or blocked roadways, Trinidad and Tobago’s helicopter service proved critical for transporting emergency personnel and assessment teams to the remote villages for damage assessment, to extract the injured and stranded, and to deliver  emergency supplies. Trinidad and Tobago had previously  provided its helicopter  to the Antigua and Barbuda government to assist with emergency services between Antigua and sister-island Barbuda which lost more than 90 percent of its houses to Hurricane Irma and which, as a result, had to be totally evacuated. The Trinidad and Tobago government also announced that it will waive the immigration requirements for residents of Dominica for a period of six months as the CARICOM Member State rebuilds.

The Dominica Government welcomed contingents of police officers from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Jamaica among others to assist with security during this recovery period. Grenada announced that a detachment from its Special Services Unit has joined an earlier team of communication and logistics officers supporting the CARICOM Disaster Relief Unit (CDRU).  Jamaica made available 120 members of its Defence Force Disaster Response Team to help with maintaining public order, engineering, relief distribution and damage assessment.  Saint Lucia’s police contingent was joined by fire and rescue officers as well as disaster assessment officials from the country’s National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO).   (more…)

CARICOM Foreign Ministers meet in New York

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CARICOM Foreign Ministers and the Secretary-General at the last meeting of the COFCOR in May 2017

CARICOM’s response to the increasing number of HIV/AIDS infections regionally is among  matters prioritised for discussions among Foreign Ministers on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.

The 10th Special Meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Council for Foreign and Community Relations began today, 22 September 2017, in New York, USA.

Foreign Ministers are also discussing the scaling down of MINUSTAH (the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti), as well as the UN response to the cholera epidemic there. The Sustainable Development goals, especially the regional priorities for climate change, are also on the agenda. (more…)

Health checks for CARICOM staff members during Caribbean Wellness Week

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The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat’s corridors, Conference Room and Staff Lounge were transformed into one-stop mini-health clinics for a week in observance of Caribbean Wellness Day (CWD) 2017. From September 11 – 15 members of staff of the Secretariat staff benefited from medical services and wellness activities at its Georgetown, Guyana, headquarters.

Love That Body: Securing a Future Generation through Eating Healthy and Not Smoking was the theme of this year’s observance.

Health care officials from Guyana’s Ministry of Health, St Joseph Mercy Hospital, Da Silva’s Optical and the Guyana School of Dentistry conducted health checks including; Body Mass Index (BMI) calculation, immunisations, blood pressure, glucose and HIV testing, as well as dental and vision screening.

Fun, interactive games were played to increase awareness of the importance of exercise. Seminars were also held on breast, cervical and prostate cancers; nutrition and exercise. Quite significantly, an Outpatient Clinic, outfitted with two doctors, was set up for staff to discuss health issues. Medication was available from a mini Pharmacy. The Georgetown Chest Clinic visited on Wednesday to brief staff on the latency of Tuberculosis and the importance of getting tested. The week’s activities wrapped up with a Zumba dance exercise activity on Thursday and a games afternoon featuring cricket, football table tennis and scrabble on Friday, September 15.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs)
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, are not passed from person to person and are of long duration and generally of slow progression. The five main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases (e.g. heart attacks and stroke), certain cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (e.g. chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma), type 2 diabetes, and mental disorders. (Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases)
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Guyana’s land space can serve as ‘gift’ to the Caribbean battered by hurricanes – President Granger

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President David Granger speaking to the Guyanese media corps who are currently covering the United Nations General Assembly in New York

News Roon, Guyana  –  Guyana’s vast landscape can serve as a “gift” to Caribbean islands devastated by recent hurricanes, President David Granger said today as he sought to get the dangers posed by climate change firmly on the international agenda.

“We are the largest CARICOM (Caribbean Community) state and we have to consider our land space as being the hinterland of the Caribbean.

“We have to sit down and speak to other CARICOM states to see how this gift could be utilised to give the Caribbean people a better life in the wake of these disasters,” Granger told Guyanese media at the United Nations headquarters in New York. (more…)

Guyana sends first set of relief to Hurricane affected islands

Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix, Preparedness and Response Manager of the Civil Defense Commission Major Sean Welcome and officials from the affected Islands with relief supplies. (Photo via Department of Public Information)
Guyana Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix, Preparedness and Response Manager of the Civil Defence Commission Major Sean Welcome and officials from the affected Islands with relief supplies. (Photo via Department of Public Information)

The first set of relief by Government to hurricane-affected islands Antigua, St Maarten, and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) arrived in Antigua via aircraft on Sunday, September 17, 2017. Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix who joined the Needs Assessment team in Antigua on Sunday has expressed Government’s commitment to continued support. Following his arrival, the Minister visited Tortola, BVI, where he met with some of the Guyanese Nationals affected. It is estimated that some 1,500 Guyanese reside on the island.