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Grange awarded for gender work

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, is this year’s recipient of the coveted DUSUSU Award in the Gender Minister category.

Grange’s ministry said the awards are presented annually to a First Lady and a Gender Minister who have shown exemplary work in Gender Development issues.

The award was presented to Grange at her offices in New Kingston by the founder of the DUSUSU Awards, the world renowned girls education advocate Zuriel Oduwole.

Zuriel said Grange was selected because she is “doing a lot in the areas of and in issues surrounding girls education, gender development and teenage pregnancy.”

Zuriel started the awards in 2014 when she was 11 years old to recognise the work of First Ladies and Gender Ministers in Africa.  

The ministry said Grange has created history by becoming the first person outside of the African continent to receive the DUSUSU Award.

The minister said she was honoured to receive the award from young Zuriel, pledging to continue working towards the empowerment, protection and education of girls.

Previous recipients of DUSUSU Awards have included Ministers of Gender Affairs in Mauritius, Ghana and Rwanda.

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PAHO calls for measures to decrease road traffic deaths

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WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) — The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) is urging countries in the Americas, including the Caribbean, to do much more with regards to stopping the increase in road traffic deaths.

A new PAHO report shows that the number of road traffic deaths continues to rise in the Americas, reaching almost 155,000 per year, 11 per cent of the world’s total.

The report, titled “Status of Road Safety in the Region of the Americas”, highlights that road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children aged five to 14 years, and the second highest cause of death for young people aged between 15 and 29 years. It is also the tenth highest cause of death for all age groups.

“These findings indicate the need to prioritise the prevention of these injuries with proven interventions that we know work,” said Dominican-born PAHO director Dr Carissa F Etienne.

“Road traffic injuries not only take the lives of thousands of people each year, but they also leave thousands more with disabilities, emotional and financial distress, and place a heavy burden on health services,” she added.

The new report presents the latest data on mortality (2016), legislation (2017), evaluation of roads (2017) and vehicle standards (2018) reported by 30 countries in the Americas. It highlights that while there have been advances in road safety legislation and management, and follow-up care for those affected, the goal of reducing road traffic deaths by half by 2020 will not be achieved.

With 15.6 deaths per 100,000 people, the Americas has the second lowest road traffic fatality rate compared to other WHO regions. However, there are variations between sub regions and countries.

The Latin America and Caribbean region has a record of 21.1 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants while the non-Latin Caribbean record stands at 16.7.

Fatality rates vary from country to country and are also influenced by levels of development.

According to the report, road traffic fatality rates in Barbados and Canada are less than half the regional average – 5.6 and 5.8 per 100,000 population, respectively – while St Lucia and the Dominican Republic have double the regional fatality rate at 35.4 and 34.6, respectively.

Motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists are the most affected

Almost half of those who die due to road traffic injuries are motorcyclists (23 per cent), pedestrians (22 per cent) and cyclists (three per cent), who are considered vulnerable road users because they have minimum protection and no alternative but to use unsafe road infrastructure.

The percentage of motorcycle victims increased from 20 to 23 per cent between 2013 and 2016, which is likely related to a 23 per cent increase in the number of registered two and three wheeled vehicles during the same period.

The report analyses advances in national legislation that address the five key risk factors to prevent road deaths and injuries. These include speeding, drink-driving, and failing to use seatbelts, motorcycle helmets and child restraint systems.

Since 2014, two additional countries – the Dominican Republic and Uruguay – have implemented laws on driving under the influence of alcohol, while Ecuador implemented legislation on the use of helmets.

The Dominican Republic implemented legislation on the mandatory use of seatbelts, while Chile implemented laws on the use of child restraint systems.

However, no new laws have been enacted on reducing speed limits, a key measure that saves lives, with only five countries ensuring standards that align with best practice, introducing maximum speed limits of 50 kilometres per hour on urban roads.

“The enactment of laws and their effective enforcement are key to preventing road traffic deaths. However, this remains a challenge for most countries,” said Eugenia Rodrigues, Regional Advisor on Road Safety at PAHO.

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PNP denies claims of shouting match at executive meeting

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — General Secretary of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP), Julian Robinson is refuting reports in sections of the media that last night’s meeting of the Executive Committee was characterised by tension and a shouting match between competing camps.

Robinson, in a statement this afternoon, made particular note of Nationwide News Network (NNN) saying the claims are “completely false”.

The general secretary also noted that there also claims that Party President, Dr Peter Phillips was in attendance, which is also false.

“Dr Phillips did not attend last night’s meeting as he had an engagement in his constituency and had asked to be excused.

“Nationwide News erroneously claimed that the meeting ended abruptly without a decision,” Robinson said, stressing that the meeting was adjourned appropriately and that there was no shouting match between anyone during the meeting or after the adjournment.

“We are very aware that there are elements in the media that would like to see an open brawl in the current context, between the contending sides, to enhance their news story but all such claims are false or fake.  The situation described by NNN is totally inaccurate – fake news,” he said.

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WHO offers global plan to fight superbugs

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Geneva, Switzerland (AFP) — The World Health Organization (WHO) launched a global campaign Tuesday to curb the spread of antibiotic resistant germs through safer and more effective use of the life-saving drugs.

The UN health agency said it had developed a classification system listing which antibiotics to use for the most common infections and which for the most serious ones, which drugs should be available at all times, and which should be used as a last resort only.

The aim is to prevent antibiotic resistance, which happens when bugs become immune to existing drugs, rendering minor injuries and common infections potentially deadly.

Such resistance can develop naturally, but overuse and misuse of the drugs dramatically speeds up the process.

“Antimicrobial resistance is an invisible pandemic,” WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines, Mariangela Simao, said in a statement.

“We are already starting to see signs of a post-antibiotic era, with the emergence of infections that are untreatable by all classes of antibiotics,” she said.

Discovered in the 1920s, antibiotics have saved tens of millions of lives by defeating bacterial diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and meningitis.

But over the decades, bacteria have learned to fight back, building resistance to the same drugs that once reliably vanquished them — turning into so-called “superbugs”.

– ‘Urgent’ health risk –

The WHO campaign pointed to numbers from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimating that some 2.4 million people could die over the next 30 years in Europe, North America and Australia due to superbug infections.

According to a recent report by the International Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, more than 50 percent of antibiotics in many countries are used inappropriately.

This includes antibiotics, which work only against bacterial infections, prescribed to treat viruses.

At the same time, many low- and middle-income countries see vast gaps in access to effective and appropriate antibiotics.

Nearly one million children die each year from pneumonia that could have been treated if they had access to antibiotics, WHO pointed out.

The UN health agency’s new classification, which it dubbed AWaRe, splits antibiotics into three categories: Access, Watch and Reserve.

The campaign aims to have drugs in the basic Access category make up at least 60 percent of total antibiotic consumption, while reducing use of drugs in the other categories, to be reserved for cases where other antibiotics have failed.

Using antibiotics in the Access group lowers the risk of resistance because they are so-called “narrow-spectrum” drugs, meaning they target a specific bacteria rather than several, the WHO explained.

They are also less costly, it said.

But the body warned that only 65 countries in the world collect data on their antibiotic use, and fewer than half of those — almost all in Europe — meet the 60-percent goal.

“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most urgent health risks of our time and threatens to undo a century of medical progress,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Tuesday’s statement.

“All countries must strike a balance between ensuring access to life-saving antibiotics and slowing drug resistance by reserving the use of some antibiotics for the hardest-to-treat infections,” he said.

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