CARICOM SG commends contribution of Belize to integration movement

 September 20, 2017 @ 5:30 pm   


CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque
CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque
“The Community wishes the Government and People of Belize, continued success as you renew your resolve at maintaining your progress towards the sustainable development of the country.” – CARICOM Secretary-General
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has commended the “invaluable contribution” of Belize as it marks its 36th Independence Anniversary.

The Central American CARICOM Member State celebrates its independence on Thursday, 21 September, under the theme ‘Belize: Confronting Challenges! Celebrating Triumphs! Renewing our Resolve!’

In a congratulatory message sent to Prime Minister of Belize, The Hon. Dean Barrow, CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, commended his leadership in the CARICOM Quasi-cabinet for Justice and Governance.

“The Community is also highly appreciative of Belize’s initiative to encourage dialogue and collaboration between CARICOM and Central America.

The Community wishes the Government and People of Belize, continued success as you renew your resolve at maintaining your progress towards the sustainable development of the country,” the Secretary-General said.

The full text of the message reads as follows:

Honourable Prime Minister,

“On behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), I extend warmest congratulations to you and the People of Belize on the occasion of your country’s Thirty-Sixth Anniversary of Independence.

As you celebrate thirty-six years as a sovereign nation, we note that Belize has opted to focus this year’s Anniversary under the theme “Belize: Confronting Challenges! Celebrating Triumphs! Renewing our Resolve!”

With that theme as a backdrop, there is no doubt that Belize can truly be proud of its many achievements and the progress it has made in the ensuing period. At the regional level, CARICOM has benefited from your invaluable contribution, Prime Minister, as lead Head of Government for Justice and Governance in the Quasi-cabinet of Heads of Government. The Community is also highly appreciative of Belize’s initiative to encourage dialogue and collaboration between CARICOM and Central America.

The Community wishes the Government and People of Belize, continued success as you renew your resolve at maintaining your progress towards the sustainable development of the country.”

US stands in solidarity with Dominica, Caribbean

 September 21, 2017 @ 11:55 am   
Downed trees in Dominica
One of the scenes in Dominica after Hurricane Maria made landfall on Monday 

The United States said it stands in solidarity with the people of Dominica and all those across the Caribbean region affected by the devastating impact of Hurricane Maria.

A message of solidarity from the US Department of State said that the US stands “ready to work with you and our international partners to provide immediate disaster relief. We are in the process of coordinating the best possible package of assistance”.

“The recent natural disasters underscore our interconnectedness and the importance of strong partnership with the Caribbean. The Department of State has an ongoing Task Force working to determine the extent of the damages, to coordinate evacuation efforts, and to provide assistance to U.S. citizens in the affected countries. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the Caribbean region”, the message said.

The message said that for more information on how the public can support disaster relief efforts, please go to the Center for International Disaster Information at

Health checks for CARICOM staff members during Caribbean Wellness Week

 September 22, 2017 @ 10:16 am   

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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)

Caribbean Wellness Day emanated from the first CARICOM Summit on Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago in September 2007. CARICOM Heads of Government issued the ground-breaking Port-of-Spain (POS) Declaration to unite the Region to stem the epidemic of NCDs. The Declaration, with 15 mandates and 27 commitments, provided global leadership on NCDs, paving the way for the United Nations Political Declaration on the Prevention of NCDs in September 2011.

Dr Rudolph Cummings, Programme Manager responsible for Health within the Directorate of Human and Social Development, in an invited comment on the 10th Anniversary of the POS Declaration, said that the fight continues.

“Furthest along is tobacco where now we have five countries which have legislation. Two countries – Barbados and Dominica – have begun to implement measures to deter or to reduce the use of sugar sweetened beverages,” he stated.

According to a report on the evaluation of the 2007 POS Declaration, conducted by the CARICOM Secretariat with support from the Pan American and World Health Organisations (PAHO/WHO), NCDs were still the major cause of premature adult deaths in the Region. Thus, they posed serious threats to health and development in the Caribbean.

Dr Cummings said the analysis showed the Region lagging behind in the implementation of the goals it set in 2007. However, he noted that the CARICOM Secretariat was working assiduously with Member States to address those implementation delays.

Despite the challenges faced with NCDs, Caribbean Wellness Day and the rallying theme Love that Body continue to be a passionate celebration of good nutrition and exercise across the Region. It is an expression of hope as Caribbean people unite to increase awareness of the burden of NCDs and encourage each other to develop and sustain good health practices.

‘It has been brutal’ – Prime Minister Skerrit

 September 21, 2017 @ 3:38 pm   

A visibly emotional Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica, briefed the world on Thursday about the devastating impact of Hurricane Maria which directly hit the island on Monday evening.

A visibly emotional Prime Minister Skerrit

The island is now under a state of emergency and a curfew is imposed.

“It has been brutal,” he said on a live programme hosted at ABSTV studios in Antigua and Barbuda. The Prime Minister had earlier flown into Antigua and Barbuda from Dominica where he also held a Town Hall Meeting with Dominicans living there.

“It was almost complete devastation. Every village in Dominica, every street, every cranny, every person in Dominica was impacted by the hurricane. We have no running water now, no electricity. We have very limited telecommunication services by Whatsapp mainly; all of the telecommunication services are down. Private homes ave been damaged, some beyond any form of repair – all flat on their faces. Many of our schools have been destroyed. Our main hospital is with no electricity now. They’ve been running very, very difficult operations with no generators.  The generators had to be set aside because of the flooding… Nurses have been working the last 96 hours non-stop trying to provide care to the patients… Communication to many parts of the country is impossible. We will have to access villages by sea and also by helicopter,” the Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister Skerrit has been conducting aerial surveys of the island over the past two days. He said that the country’s main preoccupation now was search and rescue and providing relief via essential supplies. He underlined the need for beds and bedding, hygiene kits, water and food supplies, baby supplies, tarpaulins, as well as helicopter services, especially for airlifting supplies to communities, and for medical evacuations, given the requirements of patients and the fact that the intensive care unit of the hospital was destroyed.

While there is as yet no official tally of fatalities, the Prime Minister said that many residents had died as a result of the hurricane – more than 15 people were buried so far. It would be a miracle if there were no more fatalities, he said. Many others were unaccounted for. For example, he said, in one village alone, 13 persons were missing.

The Prime Minister welcomed the support from the Caribbean “family” and the rest of the world. “Every single country” in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have responded to the situation in Dominica, he said.

“The world is mobilising to assist us,” he said, and added that they would need all the assistance the world could offer as Dominica embarked on “a long and difficult journey”.

The Prime Minister said he travels to the United Nations (UN) on Friday to make an address to the UN General Assembly and to hold discussions with the UN Secretary-General to outline how the international community could render assistance.