Some of the island’s popular social media influencers have joined forces with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to support its expanded program on immunization, to increase the uptake of routine childhood immunization.
Popular names including Gospel Artiste, John Yarde, Teacher/Educator, Stephanie Chase, and entertainers Mahalia Cummins, Natalie Burke and Nikita Herbert, who have large social media followings, are among those who will be reinforcing the importance of childhood immunizations.
The campaign is supported by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and it’s implementing partner, Task Force for Global Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)
“Our goal is to reach and sensitize the population to the benefits of routine immunizations and return vaccination rates to pre-pandemic levels of 95% or higher.”
“We want to re-emphasize the benefits of vaccines to all Barbadians throughout their life cycle. Hence, we are hoping that the launch of these videos will help us to rebuild trust and confidence in our childhood immunization program, which has been subjected to misinformation,” stated Public Health Consultant with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Arlene Husbands.
Citizens of most member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will soon enjoy full freedom of movement throughout the region bloc, CARICOM Chairman, Roosevelt Skerrit announced recently.
Skerrit said this new agreement would exclude Bahamas, which was not a member of CARICOM’S Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and Montserrat, a British dependency whose population had been largely evacuated after a volcano in 1995.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley later said that Haiti had requested to not be included in the free movement deal owing to its domestic situation, which has been characterized by economic, political and social instability, amidst devastation from repeated natural disasters plus the recent rise of powerful criminal gangs.
At present, CARICOM allows the free movement of certain categories of skilled workers such as journalists and musicians upon registration.
Skerrit said, based on prior consultations, CARICOM heads had agreed to now “connect the dots” through the region.
“On the issue of free movement, we have deliberated on this matter. We took a decision to have the free movement of all categories of people to live and work.”
He added that some legal issues had to be examined with legal advisers to report back to CARICOM leaders by March 30, 2024.
“In addition to free movement, there are certain contingent rights, which will be associated with free movement, access to primary healthcare and emergency healthcare, access to basic education.” He said CARICOM’S existing security provisions would also apply to the free movement deal.
Guyana will host the second AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF23) in October.
The African Export -Import Bank (Afrex-imbank) and the Guyana government said the Oct.30 – 31 event will be held under the theme Creating a Shared Prosperous Future and will focus on consolidating commercial collaboration between the Caribbean region and Africa for increased inter-regional trade and investment after the last edition in September 2022 in Barbados.
“Guyana looks forward to hosting the second AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum. We are actively harnessing the potential of our economic relations as we build on historic ties between Africa and the Caribbean,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd.
President and chairman of the board of Afrex-imbank Benedict Oramah said, “Going by the impressive gains we have recorded in less than one year since ACTIF2022, we have every reason to look forward to a further deepening of commercial relationships between Africa and the Caribbean when we meet in Georgetown, Guyana.”
“We are exceedingly grateful to the government of Guyana for agreeing to host this important bridge-building forum,” he added.
The forum was first held in Barbados last September to promote airlines, tourism, technology transfer, financial stability, food security, industrialization and cultural ties between Africa and the Caribbean.
There has been growing commercial co-operation between Africa and CARICOM supported by Afrex-imbank. Eleven CARICOM member countries are now participating states in the bank.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says Grenada’s tourism-dependent economy continued to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic amidst rising energy and food prices.
It said growth is estimated to have reached 6.4 % last year, driven by a tourism rebound and construction activity. Inflation rose moderately to 2.9 % by end-2022, as the authorities’ policy response dampened the pass-through from rising global food and fuel prices.
The IMF said public debt is now back on a downward trend and that the financial sector is well-capitalized and liquid although non-performing loans (NPLs) of credit unions have risen.
It warned that an economic slowdown of key tourist source markets, renewed increases in food and fuel prices, a natural disaster, or an abrupt decline in revenues from the Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) programme could weaken growth, worsen the fiscal position, and threaten debt sustainability.
“On the upside, shifting demand for services in advanced economies could make for even stronger tourism demand and investment projects may prove to have a more front-loaded impact on the economy.”
The IMF executive board has concluded the 2023 Article IV consultation with Grenada, noting that fiscal buffers built up over the past decade have allowed the Grenadian authorities to respond swiftly to the pandemic and higher energy and food prices.
The board said the government’s measures in 2022 helped protect the population from rising global food and fuel prices.
Haiti has been ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world, according to the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) released recently.
The MPI, was released by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) at the University of Oxford which examined 110 countries.
The report demonstrates that poverty reduction is achievable. However, the lack of comprehensive data on the COVID-19 pandemic poses challenges in assessing immediate prospects.
The MPI notes that there is also extensive variation across regions and that every region has at least one country with incidence below 1%.
The MPI said that the countries with the highest incidence in their region are Afghanistan, Haiti, Niger, Papua New Guinea, Sudan and Tajikistan.
It said these countries also urgently required updated data and that plotting incidence and intensity of poverty for 1,281 sub-national regions reveals considerable disparity, even within world regions.
“This situation calls for unflagging engagement in reducing child poverty,” the MPI said, noting that to end poverty in all its forms, the interlinked deprivations that poor people experience need to be addressed to reduce the intensity of poverty and thereby empower poor people to exit poverty.
It recognizes that people living in multidimensional poverty ordinarily experience multiple deprivations simultaneously.
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew has welcomed the launch of the Opportunities to Advance and Support Youth for Success (OASYS) project in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), saying it provides an opportunity to help young people move away from a life of crime.
The new initiative is intended to transform the justice landscape for young people aiming to shift the focus from stringent measures to creating opportunities for diversion, rehabilitation and successful reintegration into society.
Speaking at the launch of the project, which will be implemented in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia and the Grenadines, Prime Minister Drew said, “Programmes like OASYS are exactly the types of programmes that we need so that when we have young people who get in trouble with the law, we can step in early and get them on the straight and narrow and reintegrate them into society to become uplifting citizens of St Kitts and Nevis.”
OECS Director General, Dr. Didacus Jules said the initiative aligns with several strategic pillars of the OECS Youth Empowerment Strategy (OECS YES), stressing the importance of the shift towards a restorative justice approach and the significant role OASYS plays in this context.
“Research has shown that harsh punishment is ineffective in deterring crime, especially among our young people. By addressing the root causes of crime and offering support for rehabilitation we can foster an environment that prevents youth crime and promotes positive outcomes for our youth,” Jules said.
The OECS Commission said OASYS brings together the concerted efforts of government agencies, community organisations, and the private sector in a drive to revise legislation in accordance with evidence-based best practices.
— Compiled by Devika Ragoonanan