The Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade says it understands that there is great “interest and frustration” nationally about the movement of Jamaicans within the Caribbean Community (Caricom), particularly in relation to denials of entry to Trinidad and Tobago and related issues of the reception and treatment afforded to Jamaicans.
Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, in a news release Tuesday, assured the country that the ministry remains deeply concerned about the recurrence of these issues.
“We recognize that Jamaica has sought to address these issues on previous occasions. We are therefore acutely aware of and understand the frustrations of Jamaicans on these matters, including those of the private sector, which has made strong pronouncements,” the minister said.
The ministry advised that steps are being taken to find a solution at the political level, and that in this regard, Minister Johnson Smith spoke with Senator Dennis Moses, minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, on the issues on April 4th and 5th.
The Ministry said discussions are intended to continue “in earnest” and that it will provide further updates at the appropriate time.
The Caribbean is moving to improve the regulatory framework for the management of radioactive sources used in medicine, industry, agriculture and for other beneficial purposes.
Through support from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the region has designed a ‘cradle-to-grave’ project, which proposes the establishment of safe, adequate and sustainable systems to effectively manage radioactive sources throughout their lifetime.
‘Cradle-to-grave’ refers to the control of radioactive sources from distribution to installation, use, disuse, through to disposal.
The project dubbed: ‘Strengthening Cradle to Grave Control of Radioactive Sources in the Caribbean Region’, involves collaboration with the International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences (ICENS) of the University of the West Indies (UWI); the Ministry of Energy, Science, and Technology; and the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Division of Latin America and the Caribbean.
If approved by the IAEA, the regional project would begin this year with a four-year lifetime and would focus on countries within the Caribbean that are new to the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme or have basic needs to establish cradle-to-grave control of radioactive sources.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology, Hillary Alexander, said the initiative will contribute directly to strengthening the regulatory capabilities and infrastructure in participating countries.
She was addressing the first coordination meeting for the project, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston, on Monday.
“Regulatory bodies will be engaged in the project to improve the national infrastructure for the safe use of sources and specifically, to ensure proper regulatory oversight of the management of disused, sealed sources including the control of radioactive waste management facilities,” she pointed out.
She said it is essential that there is proper control of these sources as there have been incidents of “non-regulated maritime trade accidentally involving radioactive sources and contaminated materials within the region.”
In the meantime, Director General of the IAEA, Ambassador Yukiya Amano, said the project will achieve “important results”.
He gave the assurance that the IAEA will continue to work closely with the region “to meet your needs and to advance not only this project, but the technical cooperation programme throughout the region.”
The regional project is also intended to foster regional and international co-operation that will provide technical and human resources beyond the life of the project to ensure its sustained success.
The cradle-to-grave approach includes implementing national policies and strategies, adequate legal and regulatory framework, as well as resources and infrastructure, to ensure safe and secure management of radioactive sources.
Globally, radioactive sources are used for medical diagnostics and therapy, analysing industrial processes, sterilising food and medical products, among other purposes. The unsafe use of radioactive sources can have harmful effects on people and the environment.
The IAEA has been helping countries to develop effective, safe and secure control systems for their radioactive sources.
The regional initiative is intended to build on the experience and successes of the ‘Strengthening Cradle-to-Grave Control of Radioactive Sources in the Mediterranean Region’ project, which has been instrumental in the development of safety assessment methodologies and tools to track, control and facilitate the disposal of radioactive sources.
The coordination meeting brought together representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Honduras, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.
West Indies T20 cricket captain Darren Sammy, on Tuesday expressed his delight at the decision of the St Lucia Government to rename the Beausejour Cricket ground, north of here, after him following the exploits of the regional team in the just-concluded T20 World Cup in India.
Sammy, along with fellow St Lucian, Justin Charles, returned to a hero’s welcome at the Hewanorra International Airport, south of here, where they were greeted by Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony and other St Lucians.
The Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) did not start accepting applications on April 4, as it had initially indicated.
In a news release Tuesday, the CLA cited the recent change in government as the reason for the delay. They did not, however, indicate a new date for accepting applications, but said that they expect that before the end of the month, they will start reviewing applications.
“The transition to a new Government has caused some delays in our getting the regulations that had been developed approved,” CLA Chairman Dr Andre Gordon confirmed.
He said that while minister with portfolio responsibility Karl Samuda has seen the draft regulations, a meeting needs to be held with the minister of justice who has to review and approve them for the industry to be able to commence operations.
“With both ministers just having taken office, it should be understandable that it has taken time to get matters such as these addressed,” Gordon said.
According to the release, the authority had hoped that, at a minimum, it would have been able to release the application forms, eligibility criteria and price structure to potential licensees under Jamaica’s legal cannabis industry.
These, however, have to be the subject of ministerial approval and must await the meeting which, they expect will be able to take place shortly.
“It is unfortunate that we weren’t able to start as we had hoped,” stated portfolio minister, Karl Samuda, “but we must take the time necessary to ensure that the regulations are so written to ensure that the industry is structured to benefit Jamaicans, and grow legitimate small enterprises across the country, while ensuring that Jamaica remains compliant with its international obligations.”
In a press release in February, in addition to announcing an April 4, start date to the industry, the CLA had indicated that 11 types of licences across five main categories will be made available to interested people – cultivator, transportation, processing, retailing, and R&D – ensuring coverage over the entire value chain for the Jamaican ganja industry.
The authority requested that interested people email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, to be added to their database of potential applicants that are kept updated on any developments on the regulations and the applications process being formulated for the industry.
Relations between Jamaica and Mexico will be further strengthened at the 8th Meeting of the Mexico-Jamaica Bi-national Commission in Mexico City, in May 2016.
Mexico’s Ambassador to Jamaica, Martha Cecilia Jabber, told JIS News that a comprehensive cooperation programme for 2016-2017, will be signed at the meeting.
“There are different projects that will be considered in the two-year programme,” she said.
She informed that sport is one of the areas under consideration. “We would be very happy to have any kind of agreement in the field of sport. For Mexico, it would be a very positive development to have an agreement with Jamaica, to share best experiences. We all know that sport in Jamaica is at an excellent level and we would like to have an exchange in that area,” she noted.
Ambassador Jabber further disclosed that the programme will include partnerships between the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Mona campus,focusing on research and development, the social sciences, bio technology and gender studies.
Additionally, she informed that plans are underway to start a Spanish Language training programme in Jamaica.
“We are working at different levels to see how we can bring to Jamaica, a regular and standard programme for Spanish training. We will be working with UNAM because they have a lot of experience, they have officers in different countries where they have Spanish learning programmes,” Ambassador Jabber pointed out.
Modalities of the training programme are expected to be finalized at the session in May.
This year, Jamaica and Mexico commemorated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in March, 1965.
Ambassador Jabber said the relationship between the countries has been “very friendly and very fruitful,” over the decades.
“There are different Mexican companies that are already working in Jamaica and we are trying to work together with the Jamaican Government to increase the presence of Mexican companies in Jamaica,” she informed.
The Ambassador cited the US$1.8 million Riverton Road rehabilitation project being undertaken through grant funding from the Mexican Government to improve access to the Riverton City landfill.
The project involves the building of a two-kilometre concrete roadway to improve entrance to and exit from the disposal site, and enable the necessary agencies to respond more quickly to emergencies.
Trinidad & Tobago
The State-owned Caribbean Airlines (CAL) has denied a local television report that one of its aircraft had been detained in Venezuela this past week and released only after the crew had handed over fruit juices.
In a statement on its website, CAL said that the report by CNC 3 was “devoid of fact” and called on the television station, “to immediately retract the incorrect story carried in its newscast on Tuesday” night.
“This type of tabloid journalism has far-reaching consequences and Caribbean Airlines is asking CNC 3 to be more responsible in how it presents news stories,” the airline said.
The newscast had reported that the aircraft had been surrounded by Venezuelan soldiers who were demanding fruit juices as the Spanish-speaking country continue to feel the impact of an economic downturn occasioned by low oil prices.
In the statement, CAL said that it had prior to the broadcast informed a reporter at the television station that there was no truth to the allegation.
A new World Health Organization (WHO) report says the number of Caribbean nationals living with diabetes has tripled since 1980, adding that one in 12 inhabitants live with diabetes in the Americas.
On Wednesday, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said diabetes is currently the fourth-leading cause of death in the hemisphere, following heart attacks, strokes and dementia.
The health organization says if current trends continue, experts estimate that nearly 110 million people in the region will have diabetes by 2040.
The first Global Report on Diabetes from WHO is being launched this week in Geneva and Mexico City, as part of the 2016, World Health Day campaign, which is dedicated to diabetes.
The WHO report highlights the urgency of stepping up efforts to prevent and control diabetes, particularly through public policies that support healthy lifestyles and by ensuring that health systems are able to promptly diagnose, treat and care for people with diabetes.
“The best way to prevent diabetes is for people to follow a healthy diet, avoiding ultra-processed foods and sugary beverages that are high in calories and low in nutrients, and to engage in regular physical activity to help maintain a healthy body weight,” said PAHO’s Dominican-born director Dr Carissa F Etienne.
Preventing diabetes, however, “is not just an individual responsibility,” Etienne noted.
Rather, she said, governments need to adopt effective public policies and measures that help “make the healthy choice the easiest choice to make.”
Etienne said diabetes is a progressive chronic disease characterized by high levels of blood glucose.
She said it is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, lower limb amputation and other long-term health problems that have a significant impact on quality of life and increase the risk of premature death.
In addition, the PAHO director said medical care for diabetes and its complications take a high financial toll on families and health systems.
In 2014, diabetes-related health spending in the countries of the Americas amounted to US$382 billion.
Etienne said the vast majority of people with diabetes suffer from type 2, which is closely linked to obesity as well as a sedentary lifestyle.
The new WHO report says the rise of diabetes can be slowed through a combination of fiscal policies and legislation aimed at changing the environment in which people make lifestyle decisions, along with greater public awareness of the need to address the top risk factors for the disease.
The report urges measures to reduce consumption of unhealthy foods, including increased taxes on sugary drinks and front-of-package labeling that alerts consumers to excessive fat, sugar and salt in processed foods.
“Unless urgent action is taken, the world will not reverse this epidemic,” said Alberto Barceló, PAHO regional advisor on diabetes.
He noted that WHO member countries have pledged to curb the increase in both diabetes and obesity by 2025.
The new report emphasizes that people with diabetes can live long and healthy lives if their condition is diagnosed early and is well managed.
In some countries of the Americas, however, as many as 40 percent of people who have diabetes do not know it, and 50-70 percent do not have their condition controlled, PAHO said.
It said good management of diabetes is essential to prevent complications and premature death.
“We must ensure that people with diabetes have access to the health care and medicines they need as well as to education about self-management and interventions that facilitate healthy living,” Barcelo said.
An international forum on diabetes organized by PAHO and Mexico’s Ministry of Health will be held in Mexico City on April 7-8 as part of the 2016 World Health Day campaign.
The event will include the regional launch of WHO’s first Global Report on Diabetes.
Trinidad & Tobago
The Ministry of Health has confirmed that two more people have been diagnosed with the Zika virus.
This brings the total number of confirmed Zika cases in Trinidad to 11. There are no confirmed cases in Tobago.
The Health Ministry stated that the two new cases are located in Oropouche and Barataria and appear to have been locally acquired.
A release stated that both patients presented with a rash, fever and generalised body pains.
The ministry confirmed that the Insect Vector Control Division; County Medical Officers of Health for St. Patrick and St. George West; the Siparia Regional Corporation and the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation were informed and field work has commenced.
On January 29, the country declared a national health emergency over the mosquito-borne Zika virus, with Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh saying that the virus posed a clear threat to Trinidad and Tobago. He warned pregnant women to protect themselves from the Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes.
On Feb 17, Delaysingh confirmed the first case of the mosquito borne virus contracted by a 61-year-old female who had recently travelled to New Zealand.
Two weeks later, there were reports the a mother and daughter has also contracted the virus from Gulf View, La Romaine.
The Health Ministry renewed its call for citizens to take steps to prevent the infection of themselves and their loved ones.
Citizens were advised to:
- Dispose of all unwanted containers/items in the yard or environs which can collect water and become mosquito breeding grounds. 2. Cover water containers such as barrels, drums or buckets with a mosquito proof covering.
- Ensure that your drains and guttering allow the free flow of water.
- Empty and scrub the sides of water vases or use dirt or sand instead to support flowers.
- Cover extremities when out in the evenings.
- Use bed nets that are tightly tucked under the mattress for protection at night.
- Use insect repellent that contains DEET as an active ingredient.