Saturday, October 25, 2014

How are we handling the issues of Chikungunya and Ebola?

High on Ebola, low on chikungunya


Since the recent outbreak of chikungunya in the Caribbean, four individuals with close connections who arrived back to the U.S. from the Caribbean region were hospitalized immediately and diagnosed with the virus. In addition, a few medical center employees communicated that they have seen an increase of patients from the region admitted to their medical facilities.

I am not a medical doctor, nor I do I play one on the television; however, based on the recent reports, chikungunya has seen a significant up-tick. On the other hand, an impression is being portrayed that it is under control on these shores.

The leaders must address this issue openly and develop a solid plan before this potential storm, where soon U.S. and other countries well-traveled by Caribbean people will begin to put the medical drone on the region. The drone concept is geared to destroy anything in its path when launched. However, could you blame the U.S. if they cut travel, and begin to set high alerts and screening of passengers from the region?

The recent death of Thomas Duncan from Ebola at age 42, after arriving in the U.S., has created an intensive focus on foreign travelers from many poor and developing countries. Although many believed Thomas Duncan’s death while in U.S. care would inevitably send a statement to others to not come, many people are now wondering what the color of medicine is after two dedicated Caucasian doctors who worked in Liberia contracted the virus and recovered. One of the silent tones in the Caribbean addressing chikungunya, I believe, is not the politics of the virus, which is often seen elsewhere – for this region, it is all economics.

Here is why: in most of the region, the economic engine is tourism, and if what has taken place in Liberia is any indication, the fallout could be worse than the economic collapse in 2008 which has left many still sneezing. I begin to wonder if the reason reports of this increasing tide seem a bit hushed up is to protect the tourism industry while many locals are suffering silently. The appropriate business model during a turbulent time is not only to be prepared, but also willing to inform about structural problems. This approach not only builds credibility, but also shows a level of leadership that is lacking today on several fronts.

This is not a call for a reduction of travel to and from the region, or high-level screening at airports; that would be premature at this point. On the other hand, when the local government is slow to educate people, it could be the beginning of a tornado building. Therefore, questions must be asked. Along these blue waters, there lies an undercurrent that can overflow the banks at anytime, and the long-term impact could cripple many lives, both medically and economically.

Managing these issues takes compassion and resources. Recently I saw a Facebook picture post of what appeared to be a sick person from the region who became more victimized as he was scorned because of the appearance of what was believed to be the symptoms of the Ebola virus. Furthermore, when it is reported that a few local doctors are contemplating refusing to report to work in the event of an outbreak due to the lack of medical supplies and other resources, it is troubling.

In today’s society, where billions are being spent on wars and politicians’ re-elections, it is hard to fathom that lack of resources and awareness, combined with scorn, can leave many more suffering. I hope elected officials, medical personnel and CARICOM step up to educate people and seek help through awareness, because potential problems such as what is occurring in Liberia and other West African countries, where perception is more dangerous than the actual virus, can happen here too.

These islands are unique and sometimes that can be their own downfall because the uniqueness creates a form of isolation. It further limits collaboration, as all seem to be competing for a piece of the visitors’ pie. Therefore, competition mutes concerns, while marketing becomes a “them and not us” mentality.

This virus is not just an island thing, and nor is it found only in third world countries. One of my less-informed friends stated that he is going to stop eating chicken and stop going to places where lots of chicken is found.

Education is key: no, you cannot get it from eating chicken or visiting places where chicken is in abundance. The name chikungunya derives from a word in the Makonde language, roughly meaning “that which bends up,” reflecting the physical contortions of a person disabled by the disease. Many reports have noted that it was first identified in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in 1952.

According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the first known autochthonous chikungunya cases in the Western Hemisphere occurred in October 2013 on the island of Saint Martin. By March 2014, travelers to other Caribbean islands carried it to: Dominica; the British territories Anguilla and British Virgin Islands; overseas territories of France like Guadeloupe and Martinique; and the constituent countries of the Netherlands Antilles, as well as other areas such as St Kitts and Nevis; the Dominican Republic; and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

An estimated 3.6 billion people in 124 countries are at risk worldwide, such as the many who are exposed to dengue fever. Large outbreaks have also been seen on Indian Ocean islands, in India and South-East Asia, according to the Infection, Genetic, and Evolution Journal. It has also reached Asia and Europe, and North America has seen a few cases recently in Florida.

The National Institute of Health, the World Health Organization, public health departments and infectious disease authorities have noted that chikungunya is a viral disease that is rarely fatal. It is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes.

The symptoms include high fever and headache with debilitating joint pains, swelling and stiffness of joints, muscular pain, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and a rash that can last for several weeks. Normally within four to seven days after been bitten, the symptoms appear.

The mosquitoes become infected when they feed on an infected person during the viraemic period. Today, there are no specific antiviral treatments or vaccines available. However, it also has been reported that commonly used medications include ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, paracetamol, and aspirin. Although there have been reported deaths, the numbers are extremely low compared to Ebola; however, one should not discount it as a storm that will pass soon.

These regions have to debunk the notion that only certain medicines can cure this outbreak, while many studies have been reporting there are no known cures at this time for the symptoms. It is extremely important that people take serious preventive measures such as wearing bite-proof long sleeves and trousers. More information has been published by many health organizations.

It can be extremely difficult to track down all mosquitoes and apply chemical spray on an entire region to reduce concerns.

Today many travelers are still waiting on a concrete government plan on how they are handling the issue in a coordinated effort. If there is one, please post.

Although some awareness has been registered, and governments seem now to be taking steps to mitigate the potential problem, more needs to be done. Nevertheless, can we all be stratified?

As the region continues to attract visitors, it is also important that these visitors receive a disclaimer of this undercurrent taking place. The leaders must make sure that all proactive measures are taken, seek help and resources as needed and stop putting on a good face on such issues with a relaxed attitude. I am still optimistic that all can come together and weather this storm. Moms and I have a ticket ready to land soon to take a break from this upcoming winter.

• Derrick Miller is a trained U.S. Federal law enforcement officer that has been in the criminal justice field for more than 14 years.

October 22, 2014


Friday, October 24, 2014

Bahamas Immigration Policy Update

Fred Mitchell - Minister of Foreign Affairs & Immigration

" I wish to remind the public that the constitution of The Bahamas does not give citizenship at birth to those born here of foreign parents."

I wish to give a brief statement in response to the feedback on the administrative measures announced by me in the House of Assembly on Immigration.

I said that there would be certain changes expected on 1st November following a period of feedback.

Nothing that has come back by way of feedback on the policies indicates that there is a need to change that administrative starting date. The date will therefore stand as the commencement date of the policy.

The policy is not aimed at any national group in The Bahamas. It is generic in nature. It seeks only to better ensure that the people who live and reside in The Bahamas have the lawful authority to do so, either because they are citizens of The Bahamas or they have permits to reside or work here.

I repeat that with immediate effect, we are no longer accepting applications for first time applicants for residence or work permits from those who have no legal status in The Bahamas. Those persons also will no longer be able simply to demonstrate that they have departed The Bahamas. This is in response to the increased suspicion of fraud in connection with these applications. In order for such a first time application to be processed, where the individual has no legal status in The Bahamas, the applicant must be seen and certified as having been seen by an officer of the nearest Bahamian embassy if there is no Bahamian embassy in the applicant's home country. The embassies are in a position to process these certifications.

Secondly, all those who are not nationals of The Bahamas who live in this country beginning 1st November will be required to have the passport of their nationality and evidence that they have permission to live or work in The Bahamas.

This may represent a broad class of people. I wish to remind the public that the constitution of The Bahamas does not give citizenship at birth to those born here of foreign parents. Those children have a right to apply at their eighteenth birthday and before their nineteenth birthday for citizenship of The Bahamas. Up to the time they are granted citizenship, in law they are not Bahamian citizens. This means that these people will be required to have a residence permit to reside lawfully in The Bahamas.

This is a requirement for which there will be no exceptions, save and except where someone is stateless. In the case of a stateless individual, the Government will provide an identity document but otherwise the practice of issuing certificates of identity is to cease on 1st November. When the currency of existing certificates of identity expires, they will not generally be reissued or renewed.

We will speak with the all embassies in The Bahamas and we anticipate that embassies will be able to meet that demand for passports.

We anticipate also that in the case of one national group it may take administratively some three months to meet and process that demand and for the Department of Immigration to process the volume of applications for resident permits.

In any event, we expect that by 15th January 2015, most people will have complied with this requirement and certainly that children will have complied for the start of the school term in 2015. If any citizen has a difficulty, they should contact their local embassy for assistance with particular problems.

These measures are for the general good and will provide a more secure form of documentation for all who work and live in The Bahamas. I would therefore urge all citizens residing lawfully in The Bahamas to comply with these new measures.

Those who are not here lawfully should expect increased vigilance and enforcement on the part of the law enforcement authorities in The Bahamas.

I wish to thank the public for their support of the measures, and for the responsible manner in which these have been accepted.

In particular, I would wish to commend the continuing dialogue with leaders of the Haitian community and for their efforts to ensure compliance with these administrative measures.

The door remains open for continued comment and dialogue as we seek to make The Bahamas a more secure place to live.

Bahamas News Ma Bey

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The High Cost Reality of National Health Insurance (NHI) in The Bahamas

NHI roll-out ‘could take years’

Guardian Staff Reporter

While the government has said it will implement National Health Insurance in January 2016, Minister of Labour and National Insurance Shane Gibson suggested yesterday it could take several years to fully implement that plan.

Gibson, who has ministerial responsibility for the National Insurance Board, said it is “impossible” to roll out the entire plan in just over a year, but the government will introduce it in phases.

“National Health Insurance is not something that you can implement wholly on one day,” he said following a press conference to announce Public Service Week.

“You can begin the process of implementation and you would generally have to implement it in phases.

“We have some countries where it took them as much as 10 years to fully implement.

“We are looking at implementing it on January 2016, [but] it is impossible to have it implemented 100 percent on a particular day over this short period of time.”

NHI is intended to provide universal access to affordable healthcare for all Bahamians.

The first Christie administration had pegged the cost of NHI at around $235 million annually, but the government has said it will cost a lot more.

Before the May 2012 general election, now Health Minister Dr. Perry Gomez pledged NHI would be implemented within the first year of a new Progressive Liberal Party term.

Gibson said the roll-out could be similar to that of the National Prescription Drug Plan, which was introduced in phases.

Sanigest Internacional, a Costa Rican-based firm contracted by the government to advise on NHI costing, has said it is “plausible” in some scenarios for NHI to cost more than $500 million.

Asked about that figure and the status of Sanigest’s costing report, Gibson said he plans to meet with officials this week to discuss the plan.

The consultants submitted a draft report in August.

October 21, 2014


Monday, October 20, 2014

The Bahamas is not ready for Ebola, says Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman - Darron Cash

Fnm Chairman Says Response To Ebola Threat Is Too 'Laid Back'

Tribune Chief Reporter

FREE National Chairman Darron Cash yesterday criticised the government’s response to the potential threat of an Ebola case as “laid back” given the enormous risk the disease poses for the country’s tourism-driven economy.

He added that he does not think the country is ready for an Ebola case, despite assurances from officials that the country is on high alert for the possibility.

Mr Cash called for a full briefing on the government’s national plan, particularly equipment readiness, decontamination and waste control protocols, and co-ordination with the United States’ Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In a press statement yesterday, he pointed to reports that a health care worker who might have had contact with the disease in Texas had been quarantined on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.

According to reports yesterday, the woman has tested negative for the disease.

However, Mr Cash said the scare “has enormous implications for the Bahamas”.

“The Bahamas receives an estimated 4.2 million tourists annually, and a significant percentage of them come ashore and interact with Immigration, Customs and police officers, taxi drivers, hair braiders, store clerks, surrey drivers and others. The potential reach of a single individual can be broad.”

Mr Cash continued: “The experience of the cruise passenger reflects the reality of just how quickly America’s phenomenally small experience of less than 150 ‘Ebola-related risks/contacts’ can reach the islands of the Caribbean. The lesson for the Bahamas should be crystal clear: we should have been ready.

“We are not ready. We now need to get ready, remain ready and well-drilled and take nothing for granted.”

There have been three confirmed cases of Ebola in America, which is the closest country to the Bahamas with confirmed cases, according to the CDC. Two nurses in Texas who cared for Ebola patient Thomas Duncan, who died at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital earlier this month, have tested positive for the virus. Duncan entered the US from Liberia.

On Friday, Obama administration officials confirmed that a Carnival Magic passenger, who had handled a lab specimen from the Liberian man, was voluntarily self-quarantined on the cruise ship despite the fact that she had shown no signs of illness.

The Associated Press reported yesterday that the Dallas health care worker had tested negative for the disease, and the cruise ship was back in port in Texas.

This follows reports that Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and St Lucia last week announced immediate travel bans on anyone who would have come from or through Ebola-affected countries of West Africa, namely Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

In response to whether the country was also considering a ban, Dr Glen Beneby, chief medical officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health, said workers at the ports were being educated and their awareness of Ebola increased. He said the country was prepared to close its ports to those travelling from Ebola-affected regions if it became necessary.

While he acknowledged that there were different levels of readiness among islands, Dr Beneby said that every island is ready to deal with the disease.

Officials also said that by Wednesday, every major Family Island or clinic will have the necessary equipment to deal with a possible Ebola case.

Earlier this month the Ministry of Health released a 51-page Ebola Preparedness and Response Plan, which was heavily scrutinised by some government and healthcare personnel for its lack of public education and medical training.

There is a brief section in the report addressing port surveillance, which requires medical officers to be on call and to be accessible 24 hours a day. It does not call for screenings of travellers at ports of entry.

The Ebola virus is a severe disease characterised by a sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat.

These symptoms may be followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some in cases both internal and external bleeding.

Symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure to Ebola virus, although eight to ten days is most common, according to the CDC.

In an updated statement sent out on Friday, the Ministry of Health advised travellers with Ebola-like symptoms to consult a health care provider or contact the ministry’s surveillance unit within 21 days of entering the country.

Contact numbers for the Surveillance Unit are: 502-4776, 502-4790, 397-1021, or 376-3533.

October 20, 2014

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Is The Bahamas prepared for Ebola?

Sands: Bahamas not prepared for Ebola

Guardian Staff Reporter

Free National Movement (FNM) Deputy Chairman Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday he is not convinced the Ministry of Health is prepared to combat the deadly Ebola virus.

“I am not convinced that we have done enough to protect the interests of the Bahamas and the safety of Bahamians,” said Sands, who is also a surgeon.

“The people at the Ministry of Health can get [upset] as much as they want. Bahamians feel that we have not taken this thing seriously enough.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the Ebola death rate has risen to 70 percent.

Up to Wednesday, the death toll was tallied at 4,493, nearly all of them in West Africa.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Delon Brennen said recently it would be “nearly impossible” to prevent at least one case of Ebola from entering The Bahamas.

However, Brennen said the Ministry of Health has developed a plan it hopes would prevent local spread of the disease.

Sands said the entire world is up in arms over the virus, but The Bahamas seems slow to act.

“Regardless of how well the people at the ministry think they have this thing on lock, they are not going to be the ones who interact with the patient,” he said.

“I am not convinced we are ready. We talk about spraying people down.

“The protocol the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses for decontamination is a certain amount of bleach.

“But has anyone been trained on how to put on a hazmat suit, which can safeguard them, particularly now that we know that if it is not done precisely the way that the CDC suggests that you can still get infected? How many people are trained? Where are they?

“These are all important details that people need to know, just like when you go through the process of telling people to fill their bathtubs and get a tin of sardine and corn beef in preparation for a hurricane.”

The Ebola crisis has captured the attention of many people, including those in this region.

According to reports, Trinidad National Carnival Commission is considering postponing Carnival celebrations in 2015 due to fears associated with the Ebola crisis and the large number of visitors who enter the country for the festival.

According to the Associated Press, both St. Lucia and Colombia are banning visitors from Ebola nations from entering their countries.

October 17, 2014


Thursday, October 16, 2014

United Nations Resolution 2177 (2014) - Expressing grave concern about the outbreak of the Ebola virus

Adopted by the Security Council at its 7268th meeting, on 18 September, 2014

The Security Council,

           Recalling its resolution 2176 (2014) adopted on 15 September 2014 concerning the situation in Liberia and its press statement of 9 July 2014,

           Recalling its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,

           Expressing grave concern about the outbreak of the Ebola virus in, and its impact on, West Africa, in particular Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, as well as Nigeria and beyond,

           Recognizing that the peacebuilding and development gains of the most affected countries concerned could be reversed in light of the Ebola outbreak and underlining that the outbreak is undermining the stability of the most affected countries concerned and, unless contained, may lead to further instances of civil unrest, social tensions and a deterioration of the political and security climate, 

           Determining that the unprecedented extent of the Ebola outbreak in Africa constitutes a threat to international peace and security,

           Expressing concern about the particular impact of the Ebola outbreak on women,

           Welcoming the convening of the Mano River Union Extraordinary Summit, held in Guinea on 1 August 2014, and the commitments expressed by the Heads of State of Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to combat the Ebola outbreak in the region, including by strengthening treatment services and measures to isolate the outbreak across borders,

           Taking note of the measures taken by the Member States of the region, especially Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, as well as Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, in response to the Ebola outbreak and recognizing that the outbreak may exceed the capacity of the governments concerned to respond,

           Taking note of the letter (S/2014/669) dated 29 August 2014 to the Secretary-General from the Presidents of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, requesting a comprehensive response to the Ebola outbreak, including a coordinated international response to end the outbreak and to support the societies and economies affected by restrictions on trade and transportation during the outbreak,

           Recognizing the measures taken by the Member States of the region, in particular Côte d’Ivoire, Cabo Verde, Ghana, Mali and Senegal, to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the most affected countries,

           Emphasizing the key role of Member States, including through the Global Health Security Agenda where applicable, to provide adequate public health services to detect, prevent, respond to and mitigate outbreaks of major infectious diseases through sustainable, well-functioning and responsive public health mechanisms,

           Recalling the International Health Regulations (2005), which are contributing to global public health security by providing a framework for the coordination of the management of events that may constitute a public health emergency of international concern, and aim to improve the capacity of all countries to detect, assess, notify and respond to public health threats and underscoring the importance of WHO Member States abiding by these commitments,

           Underscoring that the control of outbreaks of major infectious diseases requires urgent action and greater national, regional and international collaboration and, in this regard, stressing the crucial and immediate need for a coordinated international response to the Ebola outbreak, 

           Commending Member States, bilateral partners and multilateral organizations for the crucial assistance, including financial commitments and in-kind donations, provided to and identified for the affected people and governments of the region to support the scaling up of emergency efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and interrupt transmission of the virus, including by providing flexible funds to relevant United Nations agencies and international organizations involved in the response to enable them and national governments to purchase supplies and enhance emergency operations in the affected countries, as well as by collaborating with public and private sector partners to accelerate development of therapies, vaccines and diagnostics to treat patients and limit or prevent further infection or transmission of the Ebola virus disease, 

           Expressing deep appreciation to the first-line responders to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, including national and international health and humanitarian relief workers contributed by the Member States of diverse regions and non-governmental organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and also expressing appreciation to the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) for transporting humanitarian personnel and medical supplies and equipment, especially to remote locations in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, during the outbreak,

           Welcoming the efforts of the African Union (AU), in coordination with bilateral partners and multilateral organizations, to craft a united, comprehensive and collective African response to the outbreak, including through the deployment of healthcare workers to the region, and also the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to support steps to contain the spread of the Ebola virus, including through the support of the defence forces of its Member States,

           Expressing concern about the impact, including on food security, of general travel and trade restrictions in the region and taking note of the AU call on its Member States to lift travel restrictions to enable the free movement of people and trade to the affected countries,

           Emphasizing the role of all relevant United Nations System entities, in particular the United Nations General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, and Peacebuilding Commission, in supporting the national, regional and international efforts to respond to the Ebola outbreak and recognizing, in this regard, the central role of the World Health Organization (WHO), which designated the Ebola outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, 

           Stressing the need for coordinated efforts of all relevant United Nations System entities to address the Ebola outbreak in line with their respective mandates and to assist, wherever possible, national, regional and international efforts in this regard,

           Taking note of the WHO Ebola Response Roadmap of 28 August 2014 that aims to stop transmission of the Ebola virus disease worldwide, while managing the consequences of any further international spread and also taking note of the 12 Mission Critical Actions, including infection control, community mobilization and recovery, to resolve the Ebola outbreak,

           Taking note of the WHO protocols to prevent the transmission of the Ebola virus disease between individuals, organizations and populations, underlining that the Ebola outbreak can be contained, including through the implementation of established safety and health protocols and other preventive measures that have proven effective and commending the efforts of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to communicate, including through UNMIL Radio, such protocols and preventive measures to the Liberian public,

           Reiterating its appreciation for the appointments by the Secretary-General of David Nabarro as the United Nations System Senior Coordinator for Ebola Virus Disease and of Anthony Banbury as the Deputy Ebola Coordinator and Operation Crisis Manager operating from the Crisis Response Mechanism of the United Nations, activated on 5 September 2014 and which aims to consolidate the operational work of the United Nations System, Member States, non-governmental organizations and other partners focused on providing assistance to the affected countries in response to the Ebola outbreak, as well as to ensure United Nations System assistance to developing, leading and implementing an effective response to the broader dimensions of the outbreak that include food security and access to basic health services,

           Welcoming the intention of the Secretary-General to convene a high-level meeting on the margins of the sixty-ninth United Nations General Assembly to urge an exceptional and vigorous response to the Ebola outbreak,

           1.        Encourages the governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to accelerate the establishment of national mechanisms to provide for the rapid diagnosis and isolation of suspected cases of infection, treatment measures, effective medical services for responders, credible and transparent public education campaigns, and strengthened preventive and preparedness measures to detect, mitigate and respond to Ebola exposure, as well as to coordinate the rapid delivery and utilization of international assistance, including health workers and humanitarian relief supplies, as well as to coordinate their efforts to address the transnational dimension of the Ebola outbreak, including the management of their shared borders, and with the support of bilateral partners, multilateral organizations and the private sector;

           2.        Encourages the governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to continue efforts to resolve and mitigate the wider political, security, socioeconomic and humanitarian dimensions of the Ebola outbreak, as well as to provide sustainable, well-functioning and responsive public health mechanisms, emphasizes that responses to the Ebola outbreak should address the specific needs of women and stresses the importance of their full and effective engagement in the development of such responses;

           3.        Expresses concern about the detrimental effect of the isolation of the affected countries as a result of trade and travel restrictions imposed on and to the affected countries;

           4.        Calls on Member States, including of the region, to lift general travel and border restrictions, imposed as a result of the Ebola outbreak, and that contribute to the further isolation of the affected countries and undermine their efforts to respond to the Ebola outbreak and also calls on airlines and shipping companies to maintain trade and transport links with the affected countries and the wider region;

           5.        Calls on Member States, especially of the region, to facilitate the delivery of assistance, including qualified, specialized and trained personnel and supplies, in response to the Ebola outbreak to the affected countries and, in this regard, expresses deep appreciation to the government of Ghana for allowing the resumption of the air shuttle of UNMIL from Monrovia to Accra, which will transport international health workers and other responders to areas affected by the Ebola outbreak in Liberia;

           6.        Calls on Member States, especially of the region, and all relevant actors providing assistance in response to the Ebola outbreak, to enhance efforts to communicate to the public, as well as to implement, the established safety and health protocols and preventive measures to mitigate against misinformation and undue alarm about the transmission and extent of the outbreak among and between individuals and communities and, in this regard, requests the Secretary-General to develop a strategic communication platform using existing United Nations System resources and facilities in the affected countries, as necessary and available, including to assist governments and other relevant partners;

           7.        Calls on Member States to provide urgent resources and assistance, including deployable medical capabilities such as field hospitals with qualified and sufficient expertise, staff and supplies, laboratory services, logistical, transport and construction support capabilities, airlift and other aviation support and aeromedical services and dedicated clinical services in Ebola Treatment Units and isolation units, to support the affected countries in intensifying preventive and response activities and strengthening national capacities in response to the Ebola outbreak and to allot adequate capacity to prevent future outbreaks;

           8.        Urges Member States, as well as bilateral partners and multilateral organizations, including the AU, ECOWAS, and European Union, to mobilize and provide immediately technical expertise and additional medical capacity, including for rapid diagnosis and training of health workers at the national and international level, to the affected countries, and those providing assistance to the affected countries, and to continue to exchange expertise, lessons learned and best practices, as well as to maximize synergies to respond effectively and immediately to the Ebola outbreak, to provide essential resources, supplies and coordinated assistance to the affected countries and implementing partners and calls on all relevant actors to cooperate closely with the Secretary-General on response assistance efforts;

           9.        Urges Member States to implement relevant Temporary Recommendations issued under the International Health Regulations (2005) regarding the 2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa, and lead the organization, coordination and implementation of national preparedness and response activities, including, where and when relevant, in collaboration with international development and humanitarian partners;

           10.      Commends the continued contribution and commitment of international health and humanitarian relief workers to respond urgently to the Ebola outbreak and calls on all relevant actors to put in place the necessary repatriation and financial arrangements, including medical evacuation capacities and treatment and transport provisions, to facilitate their immediate and unhindered deployment to the affected countries;

           11.      Requests the Secretary-General to help to ensure that all relevant United Nations System entities, including the WHO and UNHAS, in accordance with their respective mandates, accelerate their response to the Ebola outbreak, including by supporting the development and implementation of preparedness and operational plans and liaison and collaboration with governments of the region and those providing assistance; 

           12.      Encourages the WHO to continue to strengthen its technical leadership and operational support to governments and partners, monitor Ebola transmission, assist in identifying existing response needs and partners to meet those needs to facilitate the availability of essential data and hasten the development and implementation of therapies and vaccines according to best clinical and ethical practices and also encourages Member States to provide all necessary support in this regard, including the sharing of data in accordance with applicable law;

                13.           Decides to remain seized of the matter.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Concept of Urban Botanical Parks throughout The Bahamas and Bahamian Communities

Restored Nassau Botanical Gardens to be Forerunner for Urban Botanical Parks

BIS NASSAU, The Bahamas -- A revitalized Nassau Botanical Gardens can serve as the 'Central Park' of New Providence, Minister of the Environment and Housing the Hon. Kenred Dorsett said.

“Those of us of a certain age surely can recall when the Nassau Botanical Gardens was a breathtaking sight to behold,” Mr. Dorsett said. “Many of us would have attended weddings or other events there when the waterfalls were operational and the pathways were in better condition.  The Gardens are still a tranquil oasis in the middle of the city but it is not in the operational state that it used to be.

 “Given its position next to Clifford Park, the entire space could become a magnificent spot for recreation, education and entertainment on the island.  This park could offer residents and visitors a place to relax, congregate and commune with nature.  It could be a place where concerts and theatrical shows can be held with an amphitheater and concession areas.  It could also continue to be the place where indigenous trees and flowering plants are grown and displayed.  These plants could be transplanted to beautify other spaces and verges around the island.”

The restoration or “revitalization” of the Nassau Botanical Gardens is expected to be the forerunner for the establishment of Urban Botanical Parks in a number of the islands of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in order to ensure easy access to green spaces and natural areas for recreation and enjoyment

Mr. Dorsett said the establishment of the Bahamas Public Parks and Public Beaches Authority will change the way the country has operated and managed parks and beaches prior to the new legislation.

“It will ensure that the Bahamian people have access to well- kept beaches and recreational spaces across the nation.  There will be an organized approach through the establishment of the Public Parks and Public Beaches Authority to the management and upkeep of our beaches and parks.

“When enacted, it will enhance the quality of life of Bahamians and will aid in the mitigation of climate change and green house gas emissions. It will also create new green jobs for our people, with the introduction of a trained workforce of park wardens to properly manage these facilities. They will ensure that our parks and beaches become family-oriented for recreational, commercial and touristic use,” Mr. Dorsett added.

Mr. Dorsett said he was given the mandate by Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry Gladstone Christie to ensure that Clifford Park be transformed into a space reminiscent of New York City's Central Park. The National Botanical Gardens can take on that role.

Mr. Dorsett said the Prime Minister further requested that officials from the Ministry of the Environment and Housing seek support from the Bahamas National Trust, Members of Parliament and NGOs to identify and create a system of Botanical Gardens within, or adjacent to, communities on the Family Islands to ensure easy access to green spaces and natural areas for recreation and enjoyment.

He said many local settlements on the Family Islands lack a city centre and that Urban Botanical Parks could act as a central area for community activities and tourism information as well as a staging area for national events such as independence celebrations.

“Urban Botanical Gardens can also encourage development of complementary businesses to the outdoor space such as Ice Cream Shops, Coffee shops, bakeries and other similar establishments; the promotion of healthy lifestyles and access to a safe area for walking and running would be a valuable contribution to community life.

“Well-planned and planted urban botanical parks can become a wildlife oasis in developed areas. These areas become not only important for local birds but essential areas for migratory birds who need food, water and tree cover as they make their annual migrations. The Parks then become areas that support urban birding programmes for youth and adults and will become key areas for youth activities in urban renewal programmes.”

Minister Dorsett said Urban Botanical Parks can further strengthen communities by providing opportunities for corporate and NGO partnerships. Community Parks, he said, can provide staging places for special interest groups to accomplish educational outreach, advocacy and public funding for special projects.

“The development of these urban botanical areas is ideal for providing summer employment for youth in communities. The young people can receive training in landscape design and implementation as well as learning basic construction skills. Additionally their involvement in the development of the parks will give them ownership and discourage vandalism and inappropriate activities in these community parks.

“Urban Botanical Areas provide a staging place for a number of educational opportunities. Educators can use the areas to organize educational activities on plants, insects and birds. These parks, with proper infrastructure, can also become staging areas for community school concerts and theatrical performances,” Minister Dorsett added.

Mr. Dorsett said it is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that “we do our part to better the position of our country on the world's stage and more importantly, to create an environment of prosperity that will provide opportunities for the advancement for our people.”

“This administration takes this responsibility seriously.  Thus we have done what we have to do to ensure that The Bahamas continues to progress in the best interest of Bahamians through legislation and policy.”

October 07, 2014