Caribbean RoundUp

Caribbean

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says it will be offering technical cooperation to support pilot studies of new mosquito control technologies in the Americas, including the Caribbean, as part of its response to the Zika epidemic.

The Zika virus was first detected in Brazil in 2015 and has spread to 33 countries and territories in the Americas.

According to PAHO, new tools being developed to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits Zika virus include the Wolbachia bacteria and genetically modified mosquitoes.

“Since these mosquitoes live in and around houses, it will take a concerted effort with participation of the community to reduce the number of mosquitoes in the Americas,” PAHO said.

PAHO said the World Health Organization (WHO) Vector Control Advisory Group has recommended the carefully planned pilot deployment of new tools, accompanied by rigorous independent monitoring and evaluation.

It said the WHO group examined new vector control technologies and recommended starting studies regarding the future implementation of some of these technologies for controlling the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Antigua

The Antigua & Barbuda government has handed over five acres of land near the Marble Hill main road, worth $2 million to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for the construction of an embassy.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Charles “Max” Fernandez and Chinese Ambassador to Antigua & Barbuda Ren Gongping signed the land certificates in the presence of a visiting delegation from China and a delegation from Antigua & Barbuda, signifying the start of the construction of the state-of-the-art building.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne who was at the signing ceremony, noted that this is the first time that Antigua & Barbuda has been able to give something to the PRC in return for its continuous assistance.

“We have virtually always been at the receiving end of this relationship and for the first time in 33 years we’re now at the giving end,” he said.

Barbados

The Caribbean-China consultation recently held in Barbados was highlighted as an excellent opportunity for Caribbean countries to explore ways in which they could cooperate to address various challenges.

Barbados Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, made the declaration at the opening ceremony of the consultations.

According to her, many of the countries in the region had not yet recovered from the “catastrophic” economies crisis that started in 2008 and were still experiencing slow or negative economic growth.

McClean, who co-chaired the meeting with China’s Vice Foreign Minister Wang Choa further outlined shared concerns between the Caribbean and China.

The minister also stated that the talks would further strengthen the relationship between China and the Caribbean.

According to her, China was a good partner in the region and had funded projects in several sectors including tourism, education and agriculture.

Dominica

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus Dr. Luzzi Longsworth says the English-speaking Caribbean is facing a problem in education because of low registration in tertiary institutions of learning.

She made the observation while addressing a press conference at the UWI Open Campus Dominica, auditorium recently.

She said the English-speaking Caribbean by all of the statistics is at the bottom of the pile when it comes to the number of persons of the eligible age being registered in tertiary education.

“Even countries in South America have higher enrollment rates in tertiary education than we have in the English-speaking Caribbean,” she said.

Dr. Longsworth pointed out the figures are even lower in the Eastern Caribbean and lowest in the Windward Islands.

However, she noted, the situation has energized UWI to find ways, using new technologies, to ensure that access can be provided to persons who need a tertiary education.

This, she said, is being done through the UWI online courses where 21 new programs have been offered within the last l8 months.

Guyana

Guyana has become the 57th member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), after joining the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in l998, according to a press statement from the Guyana Finance Ministry.

Membership in the OIC is a prerequisite to joining the IsDB,

The official public announcement of Guyana’s membership will be made when Guyana’s Minister of Finance Winston Jordan, makes his debut appearance at the 41st Islamic Bank Annual meeting in Jakarta on May 15.

Jordan will hold the title of governor to the Islamic Bank and a deputy governor must also be appointed before the next major gathering in Jakarta. This is one requirement expected to be executed by member states of the Islamic Bank, according to the statement.

Diplomats are urging Guyana to appoint its next ambassador to Kuwait to the OIC as well.

The finance ministry release, states this membership allows Guyana “access to concessionary resources, grants and interest free loans.”

The IDB was established in December 1973 and officially opened its door to business in October 20, 1975, with headquarters in Saudi Arabia.

Jamaica

The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) will soon be introducing a tax stamp system for the monitoring of alcohol and cigarettes.

The system, which will be implemented on a phased basis, allows for the authority to verify the authenticity of alcohol and cigarettes in trade and trace the products on the market.

Commissioner of Customs, major (retired) Richard Reese, made the disclosure following a meeting with the Minister of National Security Robert Montague and State Minister Senator Pearnel Charles at the agency’s Newport East facilities in Kingston recently.

He explained that the electronically readable stamp will be placed on the products at the source.

Reese said that once the Contraband Enforcement Team or the police conduct inspections or surveillance and detect alcohol or cigarettes without the requisite stamp, “those good will be confiscated, including pharmaceuticals such as fake Viagra and Cialis.

Major Reese said the implementation of the stamp regime will be announced shortly.

St. Lucia

The St. Lucia Ministry of Health has deployed a team to conduct a full epidemiological investigation into the island’s two cases of Zika virus and surveillance is also being stepped up.

But health official have indicated that discouraging women from pregnancy, in light of the potential link between the mosquito-borne virus and the birth of babies with microcephaly — underdeveloped brains — is not in the country’s anti-Zika strategy.

A 28-year-old woman and a 25-year-old man have been confirmed as the island’s fist cases, following testing by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad.

”The individuals are stable and being treated as outpatients, according to the recommended protocol of care. The individuals did not have a history of recent travel to a Zika-affected country,” the Ministry of Health said.

Senior Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George said the Ministry of Health had not followed the lead of others around the world advising women against getting pregnant.

Health authorities in several countries, including the Caribbean, have advised against pregnancy as a result.

Trinidad

The United Kingdom has updated its travel advisory to Trinidad and Tobago following the murder of a British national recently.

In the latest advisory, the UK says while most visits of over 30,000 British nationals are trouble-free, it warns of the murder of Adrian St. John on April 10, 2016 in Mt. Dor (a few miles from the City of Port of Spain) as well as the earlier murder of another British national in Tobago.

“There are high levels of violent crimes in Trinidad, including murder, especially in parts of the capital Port of Spain. Robbery and other crimes targeting tourists have occurred,” the advisory said.

St. John was a young cricketer who was attached to the Chris Gayle Academy in the UK.

He was born in England and moved to Trinidad as a child, after which he returned to the UK where he grew up playing cricket.

He trained at Twenty20 star Chris Gayle’s Academy in the UK, eventually becoming captain of the team from 2013–2015.

St. John returned to Trinidad around carnival this year and was making plans to try out for the West Indies team.

He was driving a Nissan AD wagon when he picked up relatives and was about to drive off when two armed bandits emerged from behind some water tanks and pointed a gun at them.

The bandits robbed St. John and his relatives of cash and as he was about to drive off a shot was fired which struck him at the back of the head. He died shortly after.

— compiled by Azad Ali

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