Thursday, October 30, 2014

Testing times …can we pass?

by Jean Lowrie-Chin | Jamaica Observer column | 27 October 2014
Governor General David Johnston and his wife Sharon pay their respects at the National War Memorial shortly after the honour guard take their posts Thursday October 30, 2014 in Ottawa.
Photo - Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Last week’s events in peaceful, picturesque Canada have stunned us.  One friend wrote, “We have lost our innocence.”  Imagine, on Monday in Montreal, a radicalized man crashes his car into two soldiers, killing one.  Then on Wednesday, a gunman kills a soldier guarding a memorial in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, and charges into the Parliament Building, firing away.  Fortunately, the Sergeant-at-Arms was armed with more than the golden mace he usually carries, and was able to cut down the gunman before he could cause even greater tragedy.   

Some locals are saying that this is exactly why Minister Bunting gave a platinum farewell to Abu Bakr who was in Jamaica reportedly to spend his birthday with family members.  Security expert Robert Finzi-Smith was supportive of the Minister’s move and wrote on Facebook: “If he is shackled and returned … the potential repercussions would utterly destroy our tourism product. $4 million cheap at the price. Add to that that millions of US dollars were spent in the hospitality industry in Kingston over the past three weeks based on the bookings at hotels and guest houses in Kingston.”
Trinidad's Minster of National Security Gary Griffith (left) and Yasin Abu Bakr
The story of Trinidadian Shane Crawford who went to fight for ISIS is a wake-up call for leaders.  Published in the Trinidad Express and in the Jamaica Observer, the report by Asha Javeed who interviewed Crawford’s mother Joan, with whom he lived in Enterprise Village, Chaguanas, reveals a young man who “was prompted by the inadequacy of what his life had become in Trinidad and the need to find a greater purpose.” 
And so, in spite of multiple causes of ‘greater purpose’ in the Caribbean region -  children to be nurtured and educated, elderly to be protected – Crawford and over forty other Caribbean young men are now fighting in Syria. Their leadership could not offer them any good reason to remain and work for their own countrymen.
Violence in Jamaica
In Jamaica, our terrorists are in our garrison communities, turning the lives of humble Jamaicans into a living hell, even as our well-guarded politicians condemn their behaviour.  My first reaction to Clovis’ cartoon of the politician sending off Abu Bakr while embracing the Don, was one of revulsion.  However, well do we recall that when former MP Heather Robinson declared that she would not be pursuing representational politics because of the ‘don-man’ links, no one stood up to show solidarity with her.  Not one – neither her own colleagues in the PNP nor members of the JLP. 
If only our leaders could give us more reason to trust and believe in them.  Youth unemployment is a problem even as the Sunday papers are filled with advertisements offering various types of jobs.  Employers find that while there are excellent individuals applying for jobs, there are too many others who are sadly unemployable.  Until our leaders can find it in their hearts to give more time to solving the country’s problems and less to hunting for power, our problems will continue. 
Public Forum on ChikV and Ebola
Having been doubling up at our office because of what we have dubbed “musical ChikV”, I am curious to hear when we can expect the end of this painful phase in our business.  I am glad that ChikV did not destroy Mark Wignall’s sense of humour: his conversation with Ms Aedes Egypti in last Thursday’s column was amusing, even as we felt his pain.
Dr Shane Alexis
Further, in Jamaica’s quest to be ‘ebola ready’ Health Minister Fenton Ferguson visited Cuba last week to gain expert assistance.  He was accompanied Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ) President Dr Shane Alexis, who had studied medicine in Cuba and should be of great service to the Minister with not only his language skills, but also his brilliant approach to problem-solving.
The MAJ will be holding a public forum tomorrow at 5.30 pm at the Courtleigh Auditorium with the topic "ChikV and Ebola – analyzing their impact on Jamaica's Health and Economy," to be addressed by the Minister, PSOJ Executive Director Dennis Chung and visiting experts.
As unpleasant as it was, the experience of Jamaica-based Nigerian Dr Bob Banjo, when he arrived at Mandeville Hospital with suspicious symptoms which thankfully turned out to be food poisoning, was a wake-up call for our regional health managers.  New York City set a great example when they responded efficiently to their first ebola case – Dr Craig Spencer, who had been working with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, West Africa. However, reports on Friday are that even at that high state of preparedness, nurses are calling in sick for fear of contracting the disease.
While we hope it will never arrive at our shores, let us educate and prepare ourselves.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Modern etiquette from Debrett’s

From The Independent... 

Eight thoroughly modern pieces of advice from Debrett's
Posted 8 minutes ago by Katie Grant (edited by i100 staff) in news

Bellowing down a phone in public or failing to vacate a train seat for a passenger in need are among the more obvious examples of the discourteous behaviour emblematic of modern life.

But many people are seeking out guidance on good manners from the most established authority on the subject.

Debrett's, which specialises in guides on British etiquette, has said that it now receives more than 10,000 enquiries per year about how to behave appropriately in everyday social situations.

Now, for the first time in its 245-year history, it has shared the most frequently asked questions submitted by members of the public. The publisher, billed as the authority on social skills and modern manners, says that many of the questions helped inform Debrett's Handbook, a 480-page compendium designed to help readers navigate potentially tricky social situations with confidence.

Here are eight thoroughly modern pieces of advice from Debrett's.

1. Mobile phones should be switched off in any space where silence is desired.

"It is always rude to pay more attention to a phone than a person in the flesh," according to Debrett's.

2. Electronic cigarettes should never be used in a work environment.

3. Social kissing should only be used among friends, not on first meeting.

4. Eating on public transport is inconsiderate and should be avoided.

5. Reclining one's seat during short, day-time flights is selfish and should be avoided.

6. Passengers on public transport should always offer their seat to those more in need.

7. Web users should avoid blind copying others into email exchanges where possible.

"Blind copying should be used discerningly as it is deceptive to the primary recipient," Debrett's counsels.

8. Beginning to eat before everyone has been served is rude and should be avoided.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Preparing to take that flight

Our daughter left this week for a short vacation.

Here were the steps she took to minimise risk of exposure to the various viruses floating about. You may find them useful.

Be rested to be alert:
- She ensured she had a good night's sleep so that she could be alert during her day of travel.
- She also had a protein-rich breakfast.

She packed:
- Hand sanitizer
- Anti-bacterial wipes
- Dad's handkerchiefs
- Pashmina
- Scarf
- plastic bag
- medium garbage bag

In the airport:
- hands sanitised regularly, especially after exiting washroom - those doors carry germs!
- last-minute visit to washroom to avoid using the one on the plane!

On the plane:

- clean chair handles with anti-bacterial wipes, place waste in own plastic bag and tuck in seat pocket.
- don't touch stuff in seat pockets
- place garbage bag on floor under seat in front of you, then put your hand luggage on it.  Consider this - many shoes have been there before.  Imagine what gets on the bag you place under that seat ... that bag you handle so often!
- turn the air nozzle on over your head to keep area around your head clear - got this tip from a BBC article.
- keep sanitising your hands, especially before eating.
- if anyone is sneezing or coughing around you, use Dad's large kerchief to cover nose and mouth
- also, keep pashmina around shoulders so you can quickly protect face from those coughs and sneezes around you ... as well as protect others if you sneeze!
- when you pick up bag from under seat ... leave garbage bag ... the gloved cleaner can remove.

She arrived safe and sound and will follow this regimen for her return trip.
Please be safe dear travellers!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

MAJ Forum on ChikV and Ebola

The Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ) is very concerned about the impact of ChikV and the potential impact of Ebola on Jamaica.
In consultation with members, they have developed a strategy to improve the understanding of doctors and the public on ChikV and Ebola. One part of their strategy is to host a public forum on "ChikV and Ebola, and it's impact on Jamaica's Health and Economy."
The forum will be free to all participants, and the venue is the Courtleigh Auditorium located at 8 St. Lucia Avenue, Kingston 10, beginning at 5:30pm on Tuesday October 28th 2014.

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.