Caribbean RoundUp

Dr. Carissa Etienne, the late Pan American Health Organization (PAHO0 director.
Dr. Carissa Etienne, the late Pan American Health Organization (PAHO0 director.
Associated Press / Desmond Boylan, file


The Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, said the Dominica government is planning to hold an official funeral for the former director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa Etienne, who died in the United States on Dec. 1. He said his administration has been in touch with the family of the Dominican-born Dr. Etienne on the matter.

“The government of Dominica has been in contact with Dr Etienne’s family informing them of a Cabinet decision to grant her an official funeral in honour of her outstanding contribution to Dominica and the world,” Prime Minister Skerrit said.

“Dr Etienne was a monumental figure in public healthcare here in Dominica, in the region and globally. She made her mark as director of the Pan American Health Organization for two terms and served also in key leadership roles to the World Health Organization,” Skerrit said.

He added that Dr Etienne was particularly effective and inspiring for her work in reducing health inequalities and caring for people, “as well as for leading PAHO’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Zika and Chikungunya epidemics.

“Dr Etienne led Dominica to a place of distinction in the provision of primary health care to our citizens. She was very much involved in the primary healthcare programme,” Skerrit said, adding that “among Dominicans, I think she will be remembered best for her work at the local level as a physician and public health administrator and certainly for her kindness, warmth and love for people.”

The 71-year-old Dr.. Etienne had served for 10 years at the helm of PAHO and was declared Director-Emeritus on Sept. 30, 2022.

“We will remember her fondly for her joyous spirit, deep faith in God, and comforting smile during difficult times,” it added



All Grenadian employers, including the government, from January 1 next year, will pay increased minimum wages to workers. The minimum wage to any working person will be no less than EC$1,200 per month (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) or no less than EC$60 per day.

The minimum wage currently focuses on 14 categories of workers, namely industrial and clerical, security guards; domestic workers; caregivers; bakery workers; agricultural workers; construction workers; shop assistants; workers in the hospitality industry; vehicle drivers.

“The new minimum wages order will cover an expanded category of workers to include media workers, call centre workers, helpers on construction sites and sanitisation workers,” Labour Minister Claudette Joseph told Parliament during the debate on the 2024 national budget.

The last time changes were made to the minimum wage order was in 2011. The new minimum wage recommendations were agreed to following a series of public consultations with employers and employees that were conducted by a cabinet appointed committee.

Describing the decision by the government to increase the minimum wage as “brave and historic”, Joseph said that “this will no doubt help in poverty eradication and help in building a resilience and stable labour market”. She said also that the regulated amount is for mainly entry level employees.

According to the Minimum Wage Order, some employees will be receiving as high as 100 per cent increase while others will receive less.



Guyana’s Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo says the 2024 National Budget will be presented “early” next year. Jagdeo said budget preparations have commenced with the government keen on achieving the goals it set out in its manifesto.

He said two key elements of the budget, are the government’s focus on economic and social investments, and on expanding people’s disposable income.

The first set of investments involves spending in the health, education and security sectors while building critical infrastructure that is needed across the country.

Jagdeo also explained that increasing people’s disposable income involves increasing their salaries, reducing taxes and employing more people across the country. And he said, “All of these measures will be catered for in the 2024 budget.”

Jagdeo said citizens can expect more investments, policies and programmes to keep the country “safe” and “vibrant” while generating more jobs and creating more income for people.

This year, the government passed a GUY$781.9 billion National Budget and sought supplementary funds of $31 billion, $61 billion and $25.9 billion to execute projects and respond to challenges like the prolonged drought faced this year.

As preparations for the National Budget continue, the Vice President also announced that government ministers will next week hold a series of press conferences to outline the progress made so far in each of their sectors.



A former Haitian legislator has been sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement in the July,7, 2021, assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise.

The Miami federal court sentenced 52-year-old Joseph Joel John recently after he pleaded guilty in October to three charges, including conspiring to kill and kidnap a person outside the US, and providing material support and resources to kill Moise.

“It turned out that the plan got overwhelmed, out of hand …and they decided to kill the president instead of kidnapping him… but it was never my intention,” John, a former Haitian senator told the court.

He added that when the other conspirators made the decision to assassinate the president, he could not back down for fear of being killed. Apologising to those close to him, the President attorney, Brian Kirlew, said the fact that he participated in the plot does not mean he accepted the killing, even though he himself pleaded guilty to the charges.

But Federal judge José E Martínez, responded by saying “whether you attempted or not the assassination, you enter into dangerous territory.”

Moise was gunned down at his private residence overlooking the capital Port au Prince. His wife, Martine Moise, was also shot during the attack and had to be flown to the United States for medical treatment.

Several former Colombian military officials have been arrested in connection with the killing and remain in a prison in Haiti. They have not yet been formally charged with any offense.



Jamaica recorded an eight percent decrease in murders so far this year. With official figures putting the murder toll at 1,251 as of Dec. 17 this year as compared to 1,471 for the same period last year, with a total of 1,498 murders in 2022.

According to the latest figures, St. Thomas recorded a 46 percent reduction with 18 fewer murders, followed by St. Andrew with 24 fewer over the same period.

Trelawny in Jamaica, with 21 homicides and Manchester, the sixth largest parish in south central Jamaica, with 41 and each recorded a 25 percent decrease in murders.

The figures also show that Hanover, the second smallest parish, recorded a 56 percent spike in murders with 69 as compared with 44 for the same period last year. St. Ann also recorded a spike from 66 last year to 78 so far for this year.

While Clarendon and Kingston recorded nine more murders each as compared with last year figures. Portland is also up by two so far this year.


Trinidad and Tobago

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) signed a technical cooperation agreement for the Pandemic Fund dedicated to helping low-income countries become better prepared for future pandemics.

A Carpha statement said, executive director Dr. Joy St. John and the IDB’s T&T representative Ms. Carina Cockburn signed the Pandemic Fund Technical Co-operation Agreement recently.

The statement also said the Pandemic Fund was established in 2022 and was formally launched under Indonesia’s G20 presidency at the G20 meetings in Bali in November 2022. The fund also has a governing board which approved grants in 37 countries across six regions in July.

The G20 or Group of 20 is a forum made up of government representatives from 19 sovereign countries, the European Union, and the African Union. Its website says, “It plays an important role in shap- ing and strengthening global architecture and governance on all major international economic issues.”

Hosted by the World Bank, the Pandemic Fund, “finances critical investments to strength- en pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response capacities at national, regional, and 4^global levels, with a fo- cus on low- and mid- dle-income countries,” its website said.

It said the devastating social and economic cost of the covid19 pan- demic highlighted the “urgent need for coordinated action to build stronger health systems and mobilise additional resources for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.”

— Compiled by Devika Ragoonanan