Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 28th 2015 Contents B1
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The smallest and rarest
marine dolphin in the world
could be extinct within 15
years if protection is not
stepped up, new research
Conservationists say the
remaining population of
Maui s dolphins has dropped
The critically endangered
species is found only in wa-
ters off New Zealand.
Measures to prevent dol-
phins dying in fishing nets
must be extended, according
to the German conservation
Fishing should be banned
across the dolphin s entire
habitat rather than only lim-
ited areas, they say.
According to new esti-
mates just 43-47 individuals,
including about ten mature
females, are left.
The study is being pre-
sented at a meeting of the
scientific committee of the
International Whaling Com-
mission (IWC) in San Diego,
US. More than 200 experts
are attending the annual
At least 200 people, mainly
women who first detected
the disease before reaching
the age of 40, today suffer the
debilitating impact of multiple
sclerosis (MS) in T&T.
The statistic keeps changing each
time there is a public awareness
campaign, because there are numer-
ous patients battling the disease
who have preferred to suffer in silent
anonymity, but reach out to the
glimmer of hope concerted action
The life changing disease, which
attacks the central nervous system
and leads to crippling physical dis-
ability, has been tracked by
researchers to a genetic predispo-
sition, though what actually triggers
it remains something of a medical
And while treatments and other
medical interventions have in some
instances eased the burden of MS,
a cure has not yet been found.
For former government minister,
author and retired university lec-
turer, Dr Daphne Phillips, a 2000
diagnosis was life-changing.
"I knew about it. I knew it exist-
ed," she told T&T Guardian. In fact,
Phillips elder sister, Merle Collins,
died in 2001 from complications
associated with the disease. In her
case, the decline was rapid.
For Phillips, MS symptoms
appeared slowly and in intervals.
First came the initial diagnosis in
2000, no problems until 2004, and
then three "attacks" between 2006
The true transition to full-fledged
treatment and care however came
By then, Phillips had already
served as Minister of Culture and
Gender Affairs, Minister of Com-
munity Development, Culture and
Women s Affairs in successive Unit-
ed National Congress (UNC) led
In 2014, she was awarded the
Medal for the Development of
Women (Gold) for her "outstanding
contribution to the development of
women s rights and issues in
Trinidad and Tobago." She had to
be helped to the stage to receive
She continues her political work
as Education Officer of the UNC
and says while the disease has had
a big impact on her physically, there
has been no reduction in intellectual
Attorney at law, power chair
"footballer" and MS sufferer, UK-
based Trinidadian Sterling Seukaran
uses a wheelchair, crutches, rollator
(rolling walker) and mobility scooter
to make his way around on his own.
He insists that among the points
to be made to those who have been
diagnosed is "this does not mean
that one will always end up in a
"It is important to know that
even if you have MS you can still
have a full and active life," he said.
For IT specialist, Helen Hosein-
Mulloon, an MS diagnosis has had
"a profound effect" on her life. In
some ways negative, but in others,
"I decided that I was going to
enjoy my family time with my chil-
dren before they became adults and
to be more serious about our
health," she said.
"I also decided that I was not
going to let the illness get the better
of me, physically and mentally."
For her courage, one friend has
dubbed her "Warrior Squared"---
"squared" because Hosein-Mulloon
has also been a cancer survivor for
the past six years.
The "warrior" tag could also have
also been earned because her MS
diagnosis came as she prepared to
travel to Germany in 2006 to wit-
ness the participation of the Soca
Warriors in the Football World Cup.
"When I was about to go to Ger-
many, I started seeing a line in the
vision of my left eye," she said.
"A local ophthalmologist sug-
gested that the optic neuritis may
be caused by MS."
Hosein-Mulloon had had suspi-
cions that something might be
wrong with her.
"For a short while before this, I
found that I had tingling in my spine
after taking a hot shower," she told
In her case, the condition devel-
The inflammation of the optic
nerve picked up by the ophthal-
mologist cleared up after a few
weeks, "but the tingling continued
and over the next eight months,
different symptoms became evident
and worsened after my mother s
death following a brief illness."
"Though I did many of the tests
for MS, I did not have enough of
the criteria to categorically say that
I had MS," she added.
"After another flare, I was offi-
To both Phillips and Hosein-Mul-
loon an MS diagnosis has not meant
the end of the world. But the sit-
uation differs especially within
where a Chronic Disease Assistance
Programme (CDAP) shortage of
interferon beta drugs means patients
have to come up with as much as
$10,000 a month.
The T&T Guardian understands
there is currently a shortage of this
There is also the need to ensure
there exist support networks both
for the infected and the affected.
"Awareness makes thing more
accessible and awareness increases
empathy," Hosein-Mulloon advised.
For such reasons, the Multiple
Sclerosis Society of T&T (MSTT)
has been launched with Phillips at
the helm. It is the culmination of
years of effort led in part by neu-
rologist, Dr Azad Esack, who has
Continues on Page B2
'Loud wakeup call' over critically endangered dolphin
Measuring the impact of MS
In 2014, Dr Daphne Phillips was awarded the Medal for the Development of Women (Gold) for her "outstanding
contribution to the development of women's rights and issues in T&T." PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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