Sunday, October 19, 2014

Vaz for seat of late Roger Clarke

This release was just received from the PNP....

Savana-la-mar, Westmoreland  October, 19, 2014:          Team PNP confirms the following results of the Central Westmoreland Internal Selection vote.

Dwayne Vaz           329

Michael Erskine     245

One ballot was declared spoilt.

The process which was presided over by Region 5 Chairman, Wensworth Skeffrey was declared "incident free".

TEL: 876 978 1337

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ebola - Be careful, not paranoid

by Jean Lowrie-Chin | Jamaica Observer column |13 October 2014

Looming even larger than the pesky chikungunya virus is this ebola scare. A friend of mine who went to the Norman Manley Airport to meet a guest from an African country had a three-hour wait, as health authorities carefully questioned and examined the individual. Finally the visitor was cleared and allowed to leave the airport. I find that reassuring – obviously the Health Ministry is working to ensure that the island’s gateways are well screened.  

It is interesting that we did not see this widespread international frenzy about ebola until the disease arrived in the North, with the death of Thomas Eric Duncan in Texas last Wednesday and the frightening diagnosis of nurse’s aide Teresa Romero in Madrid. 

Yet, four days before Thomas Duncan arrived in the US, and more than a week before he was sent home undiagnosed with antibiotics from the Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas, Reuters reported on September 16, “President Barack Obama on Tuesday called West Africa's deadly Ebola outbreak a looming threat to global security and announced a major expansion of the U.S. role in trying to halt its spread, including deployment of 3,000 troops to the region.”

The report quoted the President further, as he spoke at the Atlanta headquarters of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): "The reality is that this epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better. But, right now, the world still has an opportunity to save countless lives. Right now, the world has the responsibility to act, to step up and to do more. The United States of America intends to do more.”

Did the President’s race affect the way his message was received by other world leaders? We hope not, but what we do know is that even as the brave Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) representatives were appealing to the international community, help was slow in coming.  According to reporter for PBS Frontline Priyanka Boghani, “Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières as it is known internationally, began its Ebola intervention in March 2014, and now runs five Ebola management centers in the affected countries.” In her interview Dr Estrella Lasry, a tropical medicine adviser at MSF, we understand how contagious this disease can be.  

Dr Lasry explained: “If you’re going to do a rumor check or assess a suspected case in a village, what we do is we don’t talk to the patient straight in front of them. We’re at more or less arm’s-length, talking to the side of the patient because of the risk of contagion by droplet. And we have gloves if we’re going to touch the patient, otherwise no. At this point we’re not using masks, unless we know that a patient is coughing a lot or vomiting.

“When we’re in the triage area in either Ebola facilities or non-Ebola facilities, it varies a little bit, but we’re wearing scrubs, rubber boots, gloves, a mask and goggles most of the time to protect all of the mucuses.

“When we go into the [isolation] ward, we’re wearing full personal protective equipment, which means a Tyvek hazmat suit with a hood on top of it. The suit has a hood that comes with it, but we use another hood that covers the full head, the face, and has a mask, but we wear a mask underneath that as well. And then we have goggles on top of that, double or triple gloves, and boots, and an apron on top of that.”

When the Australian government offered MSF US$2.5 million towards their efforts, they refused the money because what they needed were people to assist them with their labour intensive work.  One woman who survived ebola described the long wait for the dead to be taken from her ward as it takes four persons to do the exercise safely.  When someone has to remove protective gear, it requires another person to assist as a simple slip can cause infection. There are ebola boot camps now in operation around the world where soldiers and civilians are being trained in these procedures.  Hopefully, that is happening here in Jamaica too.

No wonder then that all of us at our office were dishing out advice to a colleague about to go on holiday in New York. As we gave him detailed instructions about handkerchiefs and hand-sanitizers, we saw he was getting a bit unnerved, so we reassured him: don’t be paranoid – just be careful and enjoy your holiday.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Syringa Marshall-Burnett receiving the CCRP Jamaica 50 Living Legacy Award from GG the Most Hon Sir Patrick Allen, Patron of the organisation
The Board and Management of the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) have expressed deep sorrow at the passing of their founding Director Mrs Syringa Marshall-Burnett.  In 2012, Mrs Marshall-Burnett was honoured as a CCRP Jamaica 50 Living Legacy, for her life of service, not only to the people of Jamaica, but also to the profession of nursing worldwide.  Mrs Marshall-Burnett's dedication to Jamaica's senior citizens was legendary.  As Chairman of the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) last month she campaigned for the reduction of JUTC fares, which resulted in a rollback of initially announced rates.  The former NAJ President, Senator and Head of the Senate was respected for her inclusive approach which made her beloved by all Jamaicans, regardless of their political persuasion.

"Despite her many commitments, Mrs Marshall-Burnett agreed serve as a Board Member of the CCRP from its inception in 2010," recalls Chairman Professor Denise Eldemire-Shearer. "She became a pillar of the organization, guiding policy and giving practical advice to our members at nearly all of the organisation's events.  Because of her deep faith, she was usually called upon to give the opening prayer at meetings and events, her inspiring words setting a tone of courage and respect for members of every walk of life."
A lady of keen intellect, Mrs Marshall-Burnett embraced social media and sent inspiring and practical emails to her myriad friends here and abroad.  She was a warm-hearted mentor, ever affirming and positive.

CCRP Founder and CEO Jean Lowrie-Chin wrote on the occasion of Mrs. Marshall Burnett's 75th Birthday of her global reach: "As an external examiner in nursing to the University of Nairobi, Syringa helped their BScN programme to become a reality. As visiting lecturer to the University of Botswana Department of Nursing, she spearheaded their very first annual research day. She has served on the UN's World Health Organisation Expert Committee on Nursing for eight years and was elected a member of the International Council of Nurses, (ICN, Geneva) for eight years, chairing the ICN/3 M International Scholarship Committee." 
Mrs Lowrie-Chin continued: "The St Mary-born Syringa was bright beyond her years, passing her Third Year Exams at such a tender age that she was too young to enter nursing, though academically qualified. Once she graduated from the KPH School of Nursing, she excelled at the University of Toronto and New York University, acquiring a double-major Master's Degree in adult mental health and nursing education, along with certificates in public health. Returning to Jamaica, she obtained a diploma in management studies at UWI…Marshall-Burnett has been the nurse's nurse, intrepidly ensuring the professional advancement of her colleagues. Serving at the UWI first as tutor in the Advanced Nursing Education Unit (ANEU), and later as senior lecturer and director/ head of the Department of Advanced Nursing Education (DANE), she successfully defended the retention of departmental status in the restructuring of the faculty."

CCRP noted that the legacy of Syringa Marshall-Burnett lives on in the excellence of Jamaica's nurses and the increased respect that we pay to our nation's senior citizens.  They extended their   sympathy to Mrs Marshall Burnett's husband Jasper Burnett, step-daughter Jacquie and her many relatives and close friends. May her great soul rest in peace.


Contact Angela Foote 382-6287

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

When the going gets tough ….

by Jean Lowrie-Chin | Jamaica Observer column | 6 OCT 2014

Fenton Ferguson Official 8x10
Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson
Whenever we see folks trying to handle a crisis, our team will huddle to examine the approach and discuss what we would have done if they were our clients.  We all agreed that an insular ‘broadcast to the nation’ was not an appropriate vehicle to communicate the chikungunya crisis now touching almost every household in Jamaica.  The whole crisis started out badly – though I understand that it was not solely the decision of Health Minister Fenton Ferguson to soft pedal the news. 
This column has given kudos to Minister Ferguson for bravely soldiering through on legislation to control smoking in public places.  However, we cannot understand his approach to the ChikV issue - why he would have understated a situation which is an act of nature, not of his ministry?   

Further, even as we complain rightly about uncollected garbage, the minister should point out that those millions of mini-breeding sites in the form of plastic bottles, did not walk into the gullies.  They were thrown there by careless Jamaicans who continue to show little pride in their environment. 
Jamaica beach clean-up - from
In a conversation with two young Cubans, they told us that part of their post-high school one-year military service was ‘mosquito inspection’.  When we asked them what it involved, they explained that groups of them would be assigned to neighbourhoods across the length and breadth of the country where they were trained to identify and destroy mosquito breeding sites and counsel householders.
With unemployment a huge issue for school leavers and funding available for health and environment, perhaps the government could consider such a programme under JEEP, expanding it to weekly beach and gully cleaning. 
So how would our team have advised the Minister on his approach to the chikungunya issue? First, they believe, he should have called an urgent press conference flanked by the Permanent Secretary and the Chief Medical Officer. They should have made all the facts known to the media, showed that they have a cohesive plan that they would roll out immediately to minimize the impact of the disease and answered questions as fully and as frankly as possible.
The ministry could have immediately utilized material from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) to get the word out as quickly as possible to the general public through press, broadcast media and social media. Organisations like the JTA, NAJ, PSOJ, Council of Churches and Police Federation cover the entire island, so they could easily share this information and lead clean-up activities.
What makes simple, logical steps so difficult, is bureaucracy – that morass which is the perfect hiding place for mediocrity and incompetence.  While we must respect our democratically elected government, they should in turn respect the people they swore to serve.  There is nothing wrong with hiring people who are loyal and share your perspective on policy … as long as such individuals are ethical and professional.  When people are hired simply because they are party ‘groupies’, they will become nothing but a source of embarrassment to the government and a pain to the nation.
This ChikV issue, the sad story of the man who died on the floor of the Spanish Town Hospital, the late arrival of provisions for meals at the St. Ann’s Bay hospital, the absence of elected representatives in crises, result from gaps in governance.  

Serious brain-drain 

Meanwhile, there is a serious brain-drain now happening as people become victims of this ‘conspiracy of mediocrity’, mostly in the public sector but elsewhere as well. There are workplaces where excellence is not welcome, and where integrity is the enemy.  Managers who require certain standards of work are deemed ‘miserable’ and workers who try to deliver results are regarded as fools.  In this conspiracy of mediocrity, you can carry on your private business on other people’s time with other people’s utilities and office supplies.  Clearly, you must hound anyone who has a different set of values out of your organisation.  Hence the many one-way tickets being bought by some of our best and brightest.
Government ministers who know better should keep a keen eye on the leaders in their organizations and allied agencies.  As friendly governments and agencies hear the cries of other states in dire need, Jamaica may start showing herself undeserving of all the attention that has been lavished on her.  Think about this:  Father Holung’s Brothers of the Poor ride around in the back of trucks and they are the ones being called by government representatives to take in persons found sick and dying in the streets.  Those representatives calling the Brothers are riding around in late model SUVs.  Something is very wrong with that picture.
This agonizing ChikV is a metaphor for the pain and suffering that is being felt by humble Jamaicans, barely surviving on the margins of poverty. They deserve some hope that our leaders will do right by them, bringing our nation to a healthy state.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The weeks that were....phenomenal women in our region

An energising message from Joan 'Joy' Grant Cummings ...
Beloved Sistahs, "Dem A Go Tyad Fe See We Face! Dem Caan Get We Outta De 'Place' "!
These last few weeks in September have been full of amazing blessings! We are grateful for the many phenomenal contributions of women in our region to several activities and events. What a curry and 'buss-up shut' affair!

-On September 19, 2014, A Call to Action by Faith Based Organizations/Individuals for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Reproductive Rights Post 2015 Development Agenda was formulated (a copy was sent to all). Marjorie Lewis of Jamaica, President of the United Theological College (UTC) was there;
-On September 21, the world witnessed the largest global march on Climate Change (over 650,000 with over 300,000 in New York) – the Caribbean was there in different spaces- Caribbean DAWN had  official representation in the March, at the civil society forum contributing to the UN meeting, Stephanie Kaydian Grant, who spoke on behalf of young women from the LAC region and we know in Trinidad there was a solidarity gathering – we have lots of work here to do and we need to "Big Up" Mariama Williams who has been a one-woman band of persistence in using her knowledge, experiences and her affiliated work organization banner the South Centre to work towards the protection of the rights of the Caribbean, on Climate financing and other areas – so we must get more actively involved now and ensure the new Treaty to be signed in Paris in 2015 is in our best interest. The Caribbean's tipping point is in 2030 with Jamaica expected to be the first to arrive at the "point of no return";   and 
-On September 26, 2014, the UN Human Rights Council passed a second motion, 25-14 on the human rights of members of the LGBT community. The Human Rights Council resolution—led by Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay—followed a resolution in 2011 on the same topic led by South Africa and asks the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to gather and publish information on how best to overcome discrimination and violence;
Despite, attempts by the "Chiqungunya" mosquito borne virus to "lick we down", here in Jamaica we were able to pull off two amazing back-to-back gatherings.  The first
-on Monday, September 29,{with the FAO} focused on the access of rural women farmers to technical services and social security, kudos to the team assembled by Linnette Vassell and the involvement of 'the author';
-On September 30, the phenomenal history making forum on "Women, Work and the (Macro)Economy" {with the IMF} – these names will go down in history – Linnette Vassell, Judy Wedderburn, Dorothy Whyte, and the motley crew that makes up the 51% Coalition.
What is triumphant about these conferences for me is the fact that women impacted by the issues challenged the prevailing norms, including patriarchy, and spoke based on their own experiences. Rural farm women, young women, women with disabilities, women of different faiths, women of different sexual orientations and  identities, household workers, community development workers, 'retired' Activist, etc. not only had their say – all contributed pragmatic solutions. The research from within the walls of our University campuses (IGDS/Mona, and different faculties) is "divine"!  The quality and the quantity of knowledge shared by women such as Leith Dunn, Heather Ricketts, amongst others,have served to super-enriching the stew.

I pray that we continue to forward our agenda as the "Post 2015 (SDG) Development Goals/Agenda starts to steam-roll into our spaces and hopefully progressive measures are agreed. Pragmatically this is where our funding resources will emanate over the next 20 years or so and funding we do need.
Look out for the update on the Joint Select Committee of Parliament on the Sexual Offences Act!  Share what's happening please!  Me know nuff tings going on, we  have to build and sharing is critical to the process1
In light and love!  Joy
 Joan 'Joy' Grant Cummings
Development Specialist – Gender, Environment
Caribbean Development Activists Women's Network (Caribbean DAWN)
Jamaica Civil Society Coalition (JCSC)
Women's Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC)
Research Cluster
47 Beechwood Avenue (10)
Tel: 876-929-8873; 876-342-6940

"....make it your ambition to live quietly, to mind your own business and to earn a living by your own efforts - just as we told you." 1 Thessalonians 4:11

"My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done; and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept love in return" - Maya Angelou

"Joy is the highest expression of spirituality. Joy is self-care. Joy is the reason for life so show it - we are here to enjoy life. Live your Joy!"  Deepak Chopra