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UN Mission in Haiti Calls on Protesters, Authorities, to Refrain from Violence

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Monday October 7, 2019 – On the heels of days of intensifying anti-government protests in Haiti, spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General, Stéphane Dujarric, said the UN was “concerned by reports of violence and arson” across the country.

And he told
reporters that the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) was
calling on everyone to “refrain from the use of violence”.

A deepening economic crisis along with chronic food and fuel shortages has seen thousands take to the streets, demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse. The protests are entering a fourth week.

Opposition
leaders called for a nationwide day of resistance to the Government, urging
supporters to take the streets, after a demonstration when several homes and
businesses were set on fire, with police firing tear gas at protesters. Several
have died during clashes in the past few weeks.

Minister for
Foreign Affairs Bocchit Edmond says President Moïse is making efforts to pursue
a Haitian national dialogue towards resolving the crisis.

However, he
cautioned that “Haiti will not be able to recover without substantial,
sustained, sustainable, coherent, well-coordinated and effective support from
the international community.”

While
praising the work of the Haitian National Police, which “has done its utmost to
provide security to the Haitian people, State institutions and private
property”, the UN peacekeeping mission continues to closely follow recent
developments.

At the same
time, MINUJUSTH and international partners are in discussions with local
participants to find a peaceful way out of the situation and alleviate the
suffering of the population, which Dujarric said, “has been bearing the brunt
of this crisis”.

Back in
June, the Security Council approved a resolution to create a UN “Integrated
Office” in Haiti to support the country’s Government in strengthening political
stability and good governance.

It will be run by a Special Representative, who will assist the Government with planning elections; human rights training for Haitian National Police; responding to gang violence; ensuring compliance with international human rights obligations; improving prison oversight; and strengthening the justice sector.

The Bureau Intégré des Nations Unies en Haïti (BINUH) will replace MINUJUSTH on October 16, ending 15 years of peacekeeping presence in the country.

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Guyana Launches Mass Drug Administration Campaign to Intensify Efforts to End Mosquito-borne Parasitic Disease

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Over the next month, health workers will provide pills to prevent Lymphatic Filariasis in a variety of locations in all endemic areas.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday November
8, 2019 –
At-risk
populations throughout Guyana will be treated for the lymphatic filariasis (LF)
over the next month in a bid to eliminate the mosquito-borne, parasitic disease
as a public health problem.

Under the Mass
Drug Administration (MDA) campaign launched by the Ministry of Public Health, in
collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), health workers
and volunteers visiting homes, workplaces and schools in eight of the country’s
10 regions to administer the pills.

“Eliminating
lymphatic filariasis is a national, regional and global priority,” said the
Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence, adding that it will require
commitment from not just the government and partner organizations, but from the
general public as a whole in order to rid populations of this “public health
scourge”.

LF is a
debilitating disease that affects the lymphatic system. While it is not fatal,
it can cause severe swelling in the lower extremities (elephantiasis, or ‘big
foot’ as it is commonly known in the Caribbean) and genitals (hydrocele) that,
once it has manifested, cannot be reversed. Around 60,000 people in Guyana are
already affected by LF, and approximately 500,000 live in endemic areas, at
risk of contracting the disease.

“This MDA
represents the final stage in an initiative that will see a huge reduction in
the cost to society of LF – the cost of drugs, the cost of the stigma. This,
for me, is priceless,” said Dr William Adu-Krow, PAHO/WHO Representative in
Guyana.

A new,
triple drug therapy will be implemented during the MDA. This includes the use
of Ivermectin, along with Diethylcarbamazine and Albendazole- a combination
which has been proven to significantly reduce the burden of filarial infection
while also treating scabies, lice and intestinal worms. 

The
initiative, which is also being supported by the United States Center for
Disease Control with funding from USAID and the End Fund, consists of three
phases: A remapping survey, which ended in July 2019 to show which regions are
endemic; the mass drug administration to provide preventative treatment for
people living in endemic regions; and treatment of those already infected with
LF in order to manage symptoms and reduce morbidity.

The decision
to implement this therapy was taken by Guyana in order to scale-up activities
to eliminate filaria transmission and receive WHO validation by 2025. The
country is also increasing efforts to provide care for those already affected
by the disease.

On October 1, countries of the Americas agreed to a collective approach to the elimination of communicable diseases throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The Elimination Initiative identifies a wide range of diseases and related conditions, including lymphatic filariasis, as potential candidates for elimination in the Region, and enables countries to consolidate efforts and resources towards ending these diseases and ensuring public health.

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Jamaica Government to Divert Mentally Ill Persons from the Justice System

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Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton (Credit: JIS)

JAMAICA, Kingston, Friday November 8,
2019 –
Health and Wellness
Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says the Government is looking to provide
alternatives to incarceration for non-violent persons primarily with substance
use and/or psychiatric disorders.

He said the
Ministry has made recommendations for the development of a range of
interventions in this regard.

Dr Tufton
noted that an audit of the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre last year
revealed that of the 1,550 persons incarcerated at the time, 203 had been
diagnosed with mental illness.

“The goal is
for persons with a mental illness to be diverted to treatment and services in
the community instead of entering the justice system, and for the prevention of
re-entry into the system by mentally ill offenders,” he said.

The Health
Minister was speaking at the launch of a research paper on incarcerated persons
with mental illness, dubbed ‘Through the Cracks’.

The comparative
research report on strategies used to address the rights of mentally ill
individuals in Jamaican prisons, completed by Stand Up for Jamaica (SUFJ) in
August, was funded by the European Union through its European Instrument for
Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) country-based support schemes in Jamaica and
Belize.

Dr Tufton
said the research is timely and in keeping with the Government’s thrust to
raise awareness and eliminate stigma regarding mental illness through its ‘Speak
Up, Speak Now’ campaign.

“It lines up
with our plans under the National Strategic Plan for Mental Health 2020 to
2025, to assess the barriers that vulnerable and at-risk groups face in
accessing mental healthcare and to inform the training of health and social
care staff that will enable them to better care for vulnerable and at-risk
groups,” he noted.

Further, the Health and Wellness Minister pointed out that the research provides vital data that can inform mental health plans, budgets and programmes, as well as prepare options for alternative approaches and provide advice to the Government on effective resource allocation to community mental health service.

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Bahamas Government Implementing Housing Initiatives to Assist Residents Displaced by Hurricane Dorian

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Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis made the announcement at a press conference as he gave updates on the recovery process on Abaco and its cays and East End, Grand Bahama – the areas impacted by Hurricane Dorian in September. At right is John Michael Clarke, Co-chair of the Reconstruction Committee. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

NASSAU, The Bahamas, Friday November
8, 2019 –
Government
is looking to establish an independent and non-political body to help fund home
and building repairs for Abaco and Grand Bahama residents impacted by Hurricane
Dorian which pounded the northern Bahamas from September 1 to 3.

The Bahamas
National Recovery and Reconstruction Trust Fund will provide vulnerable
residents with up to $10,000 in grant money per household to assist families
with building supplies, labour or some combination of both, Prime Minister Dr
Hubert Minnis said.

“A committee
of subject matter experts will help to operationalize the Fund’s efforts and to
connect public and private stakeholders,” he explained.

The Fund
will receive applications from Bahamians in need, and work with pre-selected
contractors and project managers to pre-approve applications, inspect homes,
disburse funds directly to contractors or building suppliers, and receive necessary
Government approvals.

While the
Government will provide the initial start-up funds, the private independent
trust will be responsible for collecting and distributing funds for recovery
efforts to ensure transparency and full accountability, said Prime Minister
Minnis, adding that more details would be released as the Fund is developed.

The Fund is
expected to complement other public and private initiatives to get displaced
residents of Abaco and Grand Bahama back into their homes as quickly as
possible.

The
Government’s Family Relief Centre will house 125 of 250 domes that will
temporarily house Abaco residents near Spring City.

The
remaining 125 domes will be made available for local residents in Abaco who are
restoring and or repairing their homes.

So far, the
Spring City and Central Pines Sub-divisions have been identified as locations
for some of the remaining domes.

“This allows
residents who have lost homes in those areas to rebuild while staying on or
near their properties,” said Prime Minister Minnis.

The first
shipment of 40 domes is scheduled to arrive in mid-November and will be placed
in the Spring City Sub-division. Assessments are ongoing to determine the
number of domes that will be placed in the Central Pines Sub-divisions and to
identify other possible locations.

“As I have
said before, we need as much help possible for the mammoth task of rebuilding,”
said Minnis. “The Government is working with its NGO partners to facilitate
other home repair and replacement programmes on Abaco and Grand Bahama.”

The Prime
Minister reported that Samaritan’s Purse, an international NGO, is targeting a
total of 1,000 permanent home repairs and whole-house repairs. This work will
be done in partnership with local churches and local contractors and will be
carried out in compliance with “Build Back Better” principles.

This programme
will also include working through churches to provide vouchers to local
hardware stores for the most vulnerable to replace household assets.

In addition
to the 422 roofs tarped by Samaritan’s Purse across Grand Bahama and Abaco to
date, the organization is further targeting 500 Rapid Roof Repairs on both islands
in partnership with USAID.

Prime
Minister Minnis said the International Red Cross (IRC) has also committed to
repair 1,000 homes that have received minor to moderate damage. The IRC is
assessing if it can provide additional assistance for the full reconstruction
of homes, and how it may be able to provide financial resources to 2,000
households.

“I wish to once again thank Samaritan’s Purse, the International Red Cross and all of the other NGOs who have done so much great work across the areas affected by Hurricane Dorian,” the Prime Minister said.

Hurricane Dorian claimed the lives of more than 60 people and hundreds are still missing since its passage as a Category 5 storm.

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