The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Guyana in collaboration with the Guyana Press Association and the Ministry of Public Health hosted the fourth PAHO/WHO Clare Forrester Media Awards on 3rd December, 2017.
The competition, which saw 96 entries, with 94 being eligible, included a new category - photo journalism, after a recommendation was made by the judges in 2016. The majority of the submissions were in the print category – 34% followed by online stories - 26%, TV - 19%, radio - 12%, and photojournalism - 9%. Chief Judge, Dr. Paloma Martin noted that entries showcased more detailed and investigative pieces compared to past years.
PAHO/WHO Representative, Dr. William Adu-Krow, noted that the media played an important role in advocacy surrounding important health issues such as the passage of the Tobacco Legislation in parliament, reintroduction of the HPV, and the resounding success of the mass drug administration to eliminate Filaria. “We as public health specialists are unable to share our ideas and strategies with everyone so we enlisted you to expand our audience reach with vital health information and encourage better health seeking behaviours”, he said.
Dr. Adu-Krow noted that PAHO/WHO Guyana will continue to collaborate with the media and encouraged media personnel to continue to produce positive features and to impart knowledge to the public so as to improve health and wellbeing in Guyana.
In September 58 staff from FAO, IOM, PAHO/WHO, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNDSS, UNFPA, UNICEF and the UN RCO participated in a training on the Core and LGBTI modules of the UN for All programme. The modules highlight a new stage in the work of UN Cares on stigma and discrimination and human rights.
Topics included Unconscious Bias; the human realities related to sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, mental health status, and substance abuse; and the language of inclusion. The sessions built on previous activities hosted by the inter-agency UN Cares Group that resulted in the UN Cares Guyana team winning the UN Cares Global Award for reaching UN staff with UN Cares Learning Sessions in 2014.
UN Cares Minimum Standard 10, which highlights managerial commitment, was fully embraced with the high level of support of the UN Country Team, who were present along with their staff. The sessions were interactive and participatory, which was well received by staff. “Trainings like these should be annual and included in orientation for new staff,” said Shonelle Chase-Wishart, Programme Associate at the UNDP office. Resident Coordinator, Mikiko Tanaka noted that the training provided insight into the need for the creation of a more respectful and non-discriminatory work place. “Now we need to translate this into action,” she said.
The UN for All training provided an opportunity for strategic reflection on how staff can make their work place and the UN system an inclusive work environment free of discrimination. UN for All is a UN System-wide initiative to promote diversity and inclusion in the UN workplace.
The National Tobacco Bill No. 5 of 2017 was passed in the National Parliament of Guyana on 28 July 2017.
This legislation seeks to protect present and future generations from the devastating harms of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke; to prevent tobacco use by minors; to protect workers and the public from exposure to tobacco smoke; to prevent exposure of the public, especially minors, to tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; to enhance public awareness of the hazards of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke; to ensure that every person is provided with effective health warnings about the harms of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke; to regulate the tobacco industry, its products and sales; to protect public health policies from the commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry; and to provide for other related matters.
Leading the process for the presentation of the Bill was Honourable Volda Lawrence, Minister of Public Health. Minister Lawrence established that the Bill seeks to provide for the adoption of and implementation of tobacco control policies, with the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to which Guyana acceded since September 2005. It is anticipated that the Bill will be ready for full implementation by the end of the first quarter in 2018.
Witnessing the passage of the Bill was Dr. William Adu-Krow, PAHO/WHO Representative Guyana; Mrs. Rose Nathan of the Tobacco Free Kids Initiative, USA; Ms Kesaundra Alves, Attorney-at-Law responsible for the drafting of the tobacco legislation; and Ms. Karen Roberts, Specialist, Non-Communicable Diseases and Family Health, PAHO/WHO Guyana Country Office. Support for the finalization of the Bill was provided by Mr. Charles-Fung-a-Fatt and other members of the Attorney General’s Chambers.
Print, television, radio, and online journalists participated in a three-day Digital Multimedia Workshop in July organized by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) in collaboration with the Guyana Press Association (GPA) and the support of the Ministry of Public Health.
The workshop was the first of its kind for journalists in Guyana. It brought together almost 50 media professionals from different regions working in addition to students from the University of Guyana's Centre for Communications Studies and representatives of the Public Relations departments of some Government Ministries.
The workshop was designed as an introduction to multimedia storytelling and using digital media tools such as data visualization to enhance stories. Participants learned about techniques for writing for online audiences, photojournalism and using digital tools for photo and video editing, data visualization and multimedia storytelling, and ethical issues relating to online reporting and photo journalism.
Sessions were led by Lily Ciric Hoffmann, a multimedia lecturer at the University of Maryland; Ary Rogerio Silva, multimedia and special events advisor at PAHO/WHO in Washington, D.C.; and David Spitz, photographer and videographer at PAHO/WHO in Washington, D.C.
The purpose of the workshop was to improve online media coverage of health issues in Guyana and work on continuing a mutually beneficial relationship between the press and PAHO/WHO and the Ministry of Public Health.
In July 81 health workers benefitted from a training in adolescent orientation, which was conducted by PAHO/WHO in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health. Doctors, Community Health Workers, Staff Nurses, Medexes, and Midwives drawn from Mabaruma, Moruca, and Georgetown participated in the training.
At the start of the training a pre test was conducted to assess participants knowledge and skills on adolescent health issues. Also, a survey on Adolescent Health was done to establish the needs and challenges health care workers face within the Region and their respective health centres. It was evident from the pretest and survey that participants needed information on how to address adolescent health issues and how to promote adolescent health within their centres. It was also noted that health care workers face challenges such as lack of resources to effectively deliver adolescent health services to the target population and lack of networking within the area. After the training a post test showed that participants knowledge and skills were improved.
The training comprised of theory and practical exercises where participants practiced facilitation and counseling skills through the use of active scenarios. Other activities also allowed practical application of materials from the training manuals.
During the training particular emphasis was placed on delivering information to and communicating with adolescents, teenage pregnancy and alcohol use since these were major issues identified that are faced in the regions. The training concluded with the development of an action and implementation plan for their facilities.
2015 data from the Ministry of Public Health shows that the prevalence of teenage pregnancy within the 15- 19 years group was around 21% with the majority of young mothers found in some coastal and hinterland communities. The UNICEF MICS 2014 revealed that the adolescent birth rate for the three-year period preceding the survey was 74 births per 1,000 women. The adolescent birth rate in the regional grouping 1, 7, 8 & 9 is almost three times that of other regions/regional grouping, at 187 births per 1,000 women. Dr. Ertenisa Hamilton, Maternal and Child Health Officer, Ministry of Public Health noted that there are several initiatives to aid in scaling up of adolescent services in each region.
Dr. Janice Woolford, Specialist, Family and Community Health, PAHO/WHO in providing an overview of the global progress of adolescents noted that globally, about 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 and some 1 million girls under 15 give birth every year—most in low- and middle-income countries. She added that every year, some 3 million girls aged 15 to 19 undergo unsafe abortions.