Among the overseas-based marathoners expected to participate in this weekend’s Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K in Negril, are two runners from the Tottori Prefecture Marathon in Japan and nearly 400 from the Reggae Runnerz group of the USA. Other runners from more than 30 countries have confirmed their attendance.However, Diane Ellis, Sponsorship Director of Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K, says the Reggae Runnerz have remained the largest contingent in recent years.She noted that the club members continue to boost the economy of western Jamaica by planning several parties and visits to attractions over their minimum four-day stay on the island.”Reggae Runnerz have also adopted the Green Island School and donated generously to the institution, in addition to giving tremendous support to the students participating in each year’s event and those who go to the annual Penn Relays overseas,” she said.Planning progressing wellEllis said that the planning of the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K is progressing well, with plans in place for the annual signature World’s Best Pasta Party, hosted by the Negril Chapter of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association today at Couples Swept Away from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., featuring the Silver Bird band, together with local artiste Shyam Moses. The party spirit will continue tomorrow morning from 7 to 11 during the awards ceremony at Long Bay Beach Park, with DJ Venom at the controls.Participants in the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K will need to pick up their packages today at Couples Swept Away Sports Complex from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.”We continue to put emphasis on the environment each year with our own ‘greening team’ – supported by Recycling Partners of Jamaica – gathering discarded plastic bottles for recycling and this year the partnership continues,” Ellis said.The 18th staging of the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K, which is organised by the Jamdammers Running Club of Kingston, will take place on a course certified by the IAAF to serve as a qualifier for any international event requiring qualification for a world record, or to enter such events as the Boston Marathon, which need a qualifying time for participation.Among the partners of this year’s event are: The Jamaica Tourist Board, PUMA Running, Negril Chapter of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, the Ministry of Health and volunteers from Negril as well as Green Island.
World Immunisation Week – celebrated in the last week of April – aims to highlight the collective action needed to ensure that every person is protected from diseases that are preventable once they are properly vaccinated. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), this year’s theme: “Protected Together, Vaccines Work!”, celebrates Vaccine Heroes from around the world – from parents and community members to health workers and innovators – who help ensure we are all protected, at all ages, through the power of vaccinesImmunisation is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine. In essence, immunisation is a proven tool for controlling and eliminating life-threatening, infectious diseases. It is also one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions, and prevents between two and three million deaths annually from diseases such as diphtheria, measles, pertussis, pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhoea, rubella and tetanus.The goal of World Immunisation Week 2019 is to raise awareness about the critical importance of full immunisation throughout life.During Vaccination Week, there are a number of activities usually planned in more than 180 countries across the world, including vaccination campaigns, training workshops, round-table discussions, public information campaigns, etc, to raise awareness about the importance of being immunised.Like many other countries, for us in Guyana, this special week provides an opportunity to remind families and communities in general how effective vaccines can be, and to encourage people to take action to ensure that more children, and increasingly people in other age groups, are immunised against deadly and debilitating diseases.According to WHO, there are more than 19 million unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children in the world, putting them at serious risk of contracting these potentially fatal diseases. Of these children, 1 out of 10 never receive any vaccinations, and most likely has never been seen by the health system.The Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) – endorsed by 194 Member States of the World Health Assembly in May 2012 – aims to prevent millions of deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases by 2020 through universal access to immunisation. Despite improvements in individual countries and a strong global rate of new vaccine introduction, all of the GVAP targets for disease elimination — including measles, rubella, and maternal and neonatal tetanus — are behind schedule, according to the WHO.In order for everyone everywhere to survive and thrive, countries must make more concerted efforts to reach GVAP goals by 2020. Additionally, those countries that have achieved or made progress towards achieving the goals must work to sustain those efforts over time — so that no person goes without life-saving vaccines.To achieve the kind of progress that is needed, the WHO has urged that Governments invest more in immunisation efforts, advocates must make vaccines a priority, and people must get themselves and their families vaccinated.Countries are also being urged to reach more children missed by the routine delivery systems, especially those living in countries, districts or areas where less than 80 per cent of them are receiving vaccines, or those living in countries affected by conflicts or emergencies.When a child or adult who is unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated visits a health facility for any reason, their vaccination record should be checked by healthcare workers, and they should be given all vaccines they are missing.That said, Guyana’s immunisation programme has been largely successful, and has resulted in the eradication of illnesses such as polio, yellow fever, and measles among others diseases. We urge all stakeholders to utilise World Vaccination Week, which is dedicated to immunisation, to spread the message of the need to be vaccinated; especially in Guyana’s remote areas, where health officials still seem to be facing some challenges.Guyana will continue to make steady progress if every stakeholder — including donors, health professionals, community leaders, school administrators and others — treats the issue of immunisation more seriously.