– Council sensitises residents about potential hazards
Massive health threats loom in the city of Georgetown, a development which stems from the current garbage crisis which persists following the decision by waste disposal contractors to withdraw their service from the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown (M&CC). According to Public Relations Officer, Royston King, dengue fever is not the least of the threats that have the potential of invading the city.
He related during an interview with this newspaper that the situation of garbage accumulation in various parts of the city and the potential breeding places of mosquitoes, particularly the Aedes Aegypti, which is known to carry the dengue virus, is of major concern to the municipality.
It was against this background, King said, that the Municipal Chief Public Health Officer, Kenneth Stephens, had engaged residents from various sections of the city yesterday about dealing with the way they deal with their garbage.
“He spoke to them about the way old tyres are stored…Tyres that have been abandoned have the capacity to store water and as you know the Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes can breed in such circumstances…they can breed in black storage tanks, old tins, coconut shells, drink cans…” As such it is crucial, King said that the support of citizens be solicited if the situation is to be adequately addressed.
The Ministry of Health just recently issued an advisory detailing how persons could protect themselves from the dengue-carrying mosquito. According to the advisory, dengue fever is a disease caused by a virus carried by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. Persons are being urged to get rid of the breeding places of mosquitoes in and around their home by covering all water tanks, barrels, drains, storage containers and garbage bins with tightly fitted covers or with wire mesh. In addition flower pots, vases and other unused containers should be emptied and scrubbed at least once a week to destroy mosquito eggs. Eggs, the advisory noted, can hatch into larvae in three to six days.
Further persons are being urged to place all garbage into waste receptacles and are encouraged to sleep under bed nets for their protection. Additional the use of mosquito coils and repellents could prove to be important in ensuring one’s protection.
“There is a real threat of dengue and other public health concerns, so we are encouraging people to do the right thing.
We have also distributed information and have asked citizens to cooperate with us…We got some fair response and we are very happy with that,” King asserted. The sensitisation move yesterday took on an integrated approach as several departments of the municipality were involved and focused on various aspects of the exercise.
This approach, according to King, was geared at helping the council to mobilise more resources and gather critical data on local communities in the city.
Areas that were targeted yesterday included Charlestown, Agricola, Campbellville, Kitty, Newtown and La Penitence. The move also sought to involve members of the private sector and non-governmental organisations and other community groups.
And there are plans that the sensitisation venture will continue indefinitely, King disclosed.
“We may continue for about two or three months until we would have saturated the city with enough information about the proper disposal of refuse and how they should deal with what is happening now in the city.”
In the meantime, the municipality remains incapable of honouring a more than $60M debt it owes to waste disposal contractors.
According to King, there are currently no funds available to pay the contractors, and the city entity also has to deal with other liabilities including payment to the Guyana Power and Light Company and the Guyana Water Incorporated in addition to wages and salaries for its own staff.
“We owe the contractors about $62M and we really do not have that money to pay them so we continue to mobilise our own resources to clear garbage in the city.”
Targeting men crucial in stemming domestic violence
– Help and Shelter Coordinator
By Sharmain Cornette
“We are failing to adequately target the men in the fight against domestic violence,” said Help and Shelter Coordinator, Margaret Kertzious during a recent interview with this newspaper. And targeting men, she noted, is especially crucial in reducing the prevalence of this social ill.
According to Kertzious, based on the response to the various sensitisation activities offered by Help and Shelter, it is evident that there are more women than men that are seeking to empower themselves.
She emphasised that the disturbing state of affairs is that “the men are not coming…In all of our activities that we have done in the communities and the regions the majority of our participants are women.”
The usual areas targeted by the near 15-year-old Help and Shelter are health centres, schools or any individual who calls for assistance, Kertzious noted.
It was just recently that the non-governmental entity commenced a project under GHARP (Guyana HIV/AIDS Reduction & Prevention) to establish a male-friendly group. In the inception the project started with 11 males but was eventually reduced to about four, the Coordinator disclosed.
“What we found was that some of these men are not literate…and this we found was the main reason for absenteeism…After each topic area we asked them to give us feedback to evaluate the sessions.
It was only recently that we recognised illiteracy as a definite problem.We knew we had this problem but now it has become more blatant.”
At the moment Help and Shelter is in receipt of funding from USAID/GHARP Phase II and is currently working in four communities with added support from UNFPA. The projects in train are of a capacity-building nature.
However, plans are apace for the offering of a counselling service which the entity just recently got financial aid for.
This project, according to Kertzious, should cater to the payment of counsellors for the next nine months. This venture is being funded by UNICEF and will kick off this month.
Meanwhile, the entity is yet to secure funding for a public education programme.
Persons within the employ are dispatched to the various areas under the existing projects and are tasked with working in the communities, addressing issues related to gender-based violence, doing other things in the communities such as assisting residents in terms of accessing birth certificates and doing referrals to the crisis service centre.
Through the sustained efforts of Help and Shelter, Kertzious is confident that people are able to access more information and have been seeking to be more proactive.
“Even children are more open to issues about domestic violence and they are talking more about it and people are getting more information and they are now talking about it.”
In addition, Kertzious said that efforts are being made to work along with the Ministry of Education to help address the incidence of violence and drugs in some troubled schools.
“We recognised that there are several troubled schools…Because we are working in schools, we know that there is violence and drugs in some schools, so we are making some recommendations and we are talking to the teachers.
We are hearing that welfare officers are going back to the schools and guidance and counselling is back. I think the Ministry has a plan to address the issue and we are willing to help.”
Under the UNICEF Peace Education Outreach Programme, Help and Shelter had in 2004 targeted a number of groups to address the issue of domestic violence and conflict resolution.
However, through the recently introduced Margaret Clemons Foundation, Kertious said that the efforts that were previously engaged by Help and Shelter will certainly be reinforced.
“We don’t have the funding to do all that we want, but with the foundation in place we will be in a better position.”
DPP’s advice to be sought
As auditors continue their probe into the discrepancies unearthed at the police force’s Cove and John Finance Department, indications are that investigators will eventually seek the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on whether to institute criminal charges.
A Police Corporal was placed under close arrest following the discoveries which involved the payment of overtime to other ranks, primarily from the special constabulary.
According to a source, the auditors have found that overtime payments to several ranks from as far back as 2008 were not collected.
But instead of it being returned to the main finance office, the cash disappeared.
“Based on certain tips we received, we ordered an audit,” said a source close to the investigation.
The source added that investigators are not certain if any other person is involved in the discrepancies that were uncovered.
“But it points to the person in custody. They were the sole custodian,” the source told this newspaper.
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