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One Health Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance Launched

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) 2020 came to an end on November 24 with a number of civil society actors coming forward to join forces to fight the accelerating crisis of antimicrobial resistance.

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi.

Medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others.

Without effective antibiotics, the success of major surgery and cancer chemotherapy would be compromised.

WAAW started on November 18 under the theme: “United to preserve antimicrobials.”

On November 24, the heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the World Health Organization (WHO), launched the new One Health Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance.

Group members include heads of government, government ministers, leaders from private sector and civil society. The group is co-chaired by their Excellencies Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, and Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

WHO: The group will harness the leadership and influence of these world-renowned figures to catalyze global attention and action to preserve antimicrobial medicines and avert the disastrous consequences of antimicrobial resistance.

WHO: The group was created in response to a recommendation from the Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance and supported by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS) welcomes the aforementioned news and appeals to all stakeholders to continue to be attentive on the use of antibiotics, and to encourage best practices among the public, and health workers.

“Antimicrobial resistance happens when microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites) change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintics),” PAHO reports.

Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance is a global concern because new resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in prolonged illness, disability, and death.

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Domestic violence is everyone’s business

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Domestic violence is a serious, ongoing problem that we are faced with. Sometimes our lack of understanding due to many of the misconceptions surrounding this issue can cause us to ignore it, the Ministry of VSA department of Community Development, Family and Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement on Monday. One of the popular myths that we need to discredit is “Domestic violence is a private family matter.”

When we describe domestic abuse as a ‘private family matter’, we downplay, excuse and allow it. Domestic violence is everyone’s business. Keeping domestic violence secret helps no one and subsequently has damaging long term effects on the individuals, families and community at large.

We are all affected by domestic violence and have a responsibility to speak out against it. Only then will it end. We all can take the necessary steps to end domestic violence. Start asking, “Why doesn’t he stop?” instead of “Why doesn’t she leave?” This applies to either gender of the victim or perpetrator.

Domestic violence has been allowed to happen behind closed doors for too long. Domestic violence is a crime. It is against the law and as such punishable. Don’t ignore it or stay silent. If you or someone you know requires assistance, please contact the Women’s Desk at (721) 520-6291 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Statia signs LOI to build central housing for out of school programs

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The Public Entity of St. Eustatius signed a letter of intent (LOI) today, November 20th, 2020, with the three organizations in charge of ‘Out of School Programs’. The LOI expresses the intention to realize a central building for the Mega D. Youth Foundation, the Daughters of the King Foundation and A+ Academic & professional Training.

The Public Entity will be the owner of the building which can accommodate at least 300 children between the ages of 6-18 years. In this new accommodation they can be part of different activities in a safe and pedagogical responsible environment outside of school hours.

B4Kids

Two years ago, the Program Best for Kids (B4Kids) started on St. Eustatius with a complete program for the care and education for children in Childcare Centers. A platform B4Kids was set up and one of the areas where improvement was needed was the housing. The coordinator of Best for Kids (B4Kids) and the childcare organizations exchanged thoughts to come up with a plan for housing in order to meet the criteria relating to childcare accommodation. Various discussion was held between the Public Entity of St. Eustatius and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment.

The 3 organizations as part of the Platform B4Kids developed a plan for the Public Entity and requested approval. This was provided in December 2019. With the signing of this letter of intent, the organizations can go ahead with the selection of an architect for the final design. In this process it is important to ensure that all the requirements are met, based on the Island Ordinance Childcare. (Statia GIS)

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PJIAE sees positive trend for upcoming tourism season

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT ROAD) – Just before the COVID-19 outbreak, the number of arriving visitors at SXM was recovering at a fast pace, from the impact of Hurricane Irma.  

In January and February this year, PJIAE saw an increase of respectively 108% and 123% compared to 2019.

A turn of events occurred in March this year, when Sint Maarten closed its borders and went on lockdown to protect the community from the virus.  The impact on PJIAE’s Visitor Arrivals, clearly visible in the graph, dropped to zero in the months following the lockdown.

In July Sint Maarten reopened its borders again, initially for regional and European flights, and in August for flights from the United States and several other countries.

During the lock-down, PJIAE Management determined that the success of SXM reopening depends largely on adapting to the global pandemic, by designing and implementing all the necessary Covid-19 prevention and control measures.

‘While PJIAE was in hibernation mode, we appointed a Covid-19 Taskforce, led by Mr. Connally Connor – Manager Quality Assurance. The objective for the Taskforce was to implement all the necessary prevention and control measures to keep staff, the airport community, and our visitors safe.

The Managing Board praises the Taskforce, the ministries of VSA and TEATT and all other airport partners for their efforts and results. This allowed us to reopen and run the airport in a safe way, allowing PJIAE and Sint Maarten to start its road to recovery, said Mr. Brian Mingo – CEO.

Since the reopening in August 2020, PJIAE’s Visitor Arrivals grew from 12% to 20% in October. Most of the airlines restarted their routes to Sint Maarten and indicated that the demand for Sint Maarten is high compared to other Caribbean destinations.

Furthermore, for the month November, PJIAE notices a continuous growth in recovery but is aware of a fragile situation with increased lockdowns in Europe and a rapidly growing outbreak in the United States. The numbers so far, are nowhere near the levels PJIAE needs for its business recovery, however, it is promising to see a positive trend in passenger numbers. PJIAE is ready for this season, to provide Sint Maarten’s visitors a safe welcome as well as departure.

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GRACITA: NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO DEMAND 12.5 % CIVIL SERVANTS CUT

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Leader of the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) Gracita Arrindell said in a statement on Thursday: “The billion dollar question facing government and our citizens is, where do we find the right balance between much needed austerity measures as demanded by the Dutch government in exchange for temporary liquidity (cash support) and the right balance to get the economy moving in the right direction and still take care of our people.

“After fierce resistance from the islands against the first ‘Caribbean Entity’ proposal, the Dutch cabinet through its State Secretary for Kingdom and interior government relation Mr. Knops finally signed separate agreements with respectfully Aruba and Curacao. It is expected that Sint Maarten will soon fall in line. It is just a matter of time.”

Arrindell states: “While negotiations continue between our local government and State Secretary Knops, one of the main political hot potatoes is the request for a 12.5% cut in civil servant’s salaries, excluding personnel that fall under the category of first or -frontline responders. This includes police, coastguard, fire department etc. Other personnel including teachers do not fall under this arrangement. This is a divisive form of discrimination of one category of civil servants against the others and it is wrong.”

“This exemption in the agreement is ill- advised and unfair. In fact, this clause goes against one of the fourteen principles of good governance codified in Dutch public administration. The so-called ‘algemene beginselen van behoorlijk bestuur’ ( abbb’s). One such covenant is the principle of equality. ‘Gelijkheids beginsel’ ‘Gelijke gevallen op gelijke wijze behandelen’. ‘Equal cases must be dealt with equally’. If that is the case then one can argue that all civil servants should fall under the 12.5% measure. To be clear on this point, we do Not support the implementation of the 12.5% salary cut for any civil servant at this time. If carried through though this measure will further worsen our already fragile economy. Keep in mind that the tourism/ hotel sector is still mostly closed with thousands of people still out of work or working part time with less pay at least for the foreseeable future.

“Now is not the time to add another estimated 1900 people or part thereof from the public sector to this equation. Government employees are paid in the local guilder currency. Our economy is USA dollar based and has been such for decades. Now is not the time to swipe more money from the pockets of this category of workers. Many questions remain unanswered. Where do they turn to cover this gap? What effect will this salary cut have on those civil servants who need a loan to purchase a home. What will the long-term effect or benefit be since Sint Maarten government must repay this loan?”

PPA leader said: “We all agree that cutting waste in government is necessary. Waste of public funds often paired with unfriendly civil- service leaves much room for improvement. It has been a thorn at the side of many local citizens as well as consecutive Dutch governments. The inefficient manner in which our local governments and government owned companies conducted the people’s business in the past, high taxes, slow innovations (clients must still stand in line for a stamp) and again a substandard infrastructure, merits the criticism and demand for reform and efficiency. Many agree that paying taxes is not an issue. The issue is seeing where and how the money is reflected in the quality of our island and it improves the lives of our citizens. Especially that of our children and our seniors. This is the crux of the matter that must be fixed, and it must be done sooner rather than later”.

Gracita continues: “Keeping this requirement in order to provide yet another financial life -line to government is bad for productivity, motivation, aspiration and it is unfair to those who must make this sacrifice of 12.5 % cut. In general, this condition is bad for both growth and coveted prosperity”.

“What are we to do, where to go from here? How to cut waste in the public sector without giving into the demand of 12.5% salary cuts. We are convinced that governments are creative in finding a solution to generate more income for its coffers to satisfy the Dutch government’s demand without making this sacrifice in exchange for budget support. Here are a few examples of un or- over-tapped sources of income:

1.Lands lotterij. This entity is still a joint Curacao- Sint Maarten institution located in Curacao. Sint Maarten should consider retaking its shares and investing a Sint Maarten lottery managed as professionally as done in Curacao. It remains unclear how the current lottery system benefits government coffers and the overall landscape of our island. Proceeds must be directly allocated to education, sports and art.

2.Introduce the lucrative offshore sector in accordance with the international transparency laws that guides this financial sector. Again, Holland knows how to implement this well. After all our Kingdom (mostly Holland) profits handsomely from this source of income”.

Arrindell concludes; “The current crisis is global. However, it is not a static process. It is the evolution of the economic of the effects of Covid-19 pandemic paired with decades of mismanagement, lack of long-term planning and investment in human capital, corruption and lack of pride to demand openness and transparency from governments that is plaguing us. The markets will rebound because history has proven it usually does after each crisis. As a small exporting economy with open borders, and no import duties, with liquid banks, government must get hold of this process and submit a counter proposal that will help rather than stagnate our economy. Let us not drain the economy with short-term harmful measures to prove a point we have failed and therefore condemns the innocent to pay the price and suffer. Now is not the time.”

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Sint Maarten and Saban NGO nominated for an 'Appeltjes van Oranje' Award

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Every year the Oranje Fonds hosts the 'Appeltjes van Oranje' award, whereby Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the Netherlands as well as in the Dutch Caribbean are nominated based on a specific theme, Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben (SFC) said in a press statement on Thursday.

In the end three (3) NGOs are selected as winners, thereby receiving a bronze statuette, created by Princess Beatrix, and a €15.000 euro cash prize to further their cause.

This coming year's theme is focused on 'mental strength'. Oranje Fonds put out a call to all NGOs that are hosting projects that provide that bit of extra help to persons in need of a boost in their mental health, mainly through the work of volunteers.

From that call eight (8) NGOs from the Dutch Caribbean were selected to proceed to the next round. Four (4) hail from Curacao, two (2) from Aruba, one (1) from Sint Maarten, namely Player Development, and one (1) from Saba, namely Expertise Center Education Care (EC2).

Normally all nominees are invited to the Netherlands for the preselection rounds, but due to the pandemic, the preselection round will now be done digitally. In January 2021 all nominees will be asked to present their 'mental strength' projects in a quick pitch round to each other, and a total of 10 organizations from the Netherlands and the Dutch Caribbean will be selected to proceed to the finals.

The finalists will be visited by a team of juries in February, and the winners will be made known in April. As of now, it is the intention to have Queen Maxima present the winning NGOs with their well-deserved statuette and cash prize in May of 2021. An exciting time to come for many well-deserving NGOs.

Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben (focus: Sint Maarten, Saba and Statia), of which Oranje Fonds is one of the funders, would hereby like to congratulate all nominees, especially Player Development and EC2.

For more information on the 'Appeltjes van Oranje' Award, please visit: https://www.oranjefonds.nl/appeltjes-van-oranje-2021-eng

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Health advisors suggest six guests for coronavirus-era Christmas dinner

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Government health advisors are suggesting Christmas get-togethers could have an upper limit of six guests, if ministers agree that the current limit can be further relaxed during the festive period.

However, this would also entail people planning to spend time with elderly or vulnerable people limiting their contact with others in the 10 days prior to the event, experts from the Outbreak Management Team have told health minister Hugo de Jonge in an update.

In addition, people should limit their festive events to close family members, and preferably those who live in the locality, the OMT said. Prime minister Mark Rutte told Tuesday evening’s news conference that it is still too early to say what the options will be for the Christmas period.

However, it remains unlikely that foreign travel will be sanctioned and returning holidaymakers remain a source of coronavirus, the OMT briefing said.

(DutchNews)

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Plan to make coronavirus tests compulsory for incoming travellers

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – People visiting the Netherlands from abroad should be required to take a coronavirus test before travelling, health minister Hugo de Jonge has told parliament.

De Jonge wants to change the law to make it obligatory for travellers arriving from high-risk countries, including Dutch residents returning home, to produce a negative test taken within the last 48 hours.

The legislation is not expected to pass before the spring. Existing regulations allow testing to be made compulsory for travellers from outside the EU who are exempted from the general ban on inbound travel, such as business travellers and partners.

The reform would also allow the government to shorten the time that travellers from outside the EU currently have to spend in quarantine, De Jonge said in a letter to MPs. Under the minister’s plan all visitors would be tested within five days of landing in the Netherlands, whether or not they had coronavirus symptoms.

(DutchNews)

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Statia further improves waste management

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The Public Entity of St. Eustatius is continuously introducing new ways to further improve waste management with the objective to eventually grow into a ‘green’ island. One of the main projects supporting this objective is to ban single-use plastic starting January 1st, 2021. The single-use plastic ban will contribute to the environment and sustainability of Statia and will reduce the use of plastics and the amount of trash. Also, the new incinerator based on modern incineration technology is expected to become operational at the end of 2021.

The Directorate of Infrastructure, Statia Waste Solution, St. Eustatius National Parks and other stake holders are collaborating on the plan of a approach for the single-use plastic ban than goes into effect at the start of the new year 2021. This is at the same time when the BES Law Ban on Single-use Plastic goes into effect.

New incinerator

An incinerator is an apparatus for burning waste material at high temperatures until it is reduced to ash. The incinerator currently used to burn all the islands waste was designed to burn contaminated medical waste. This current unit is incapable of handling the volume of waste produced on the island and is not up to standards considering the modern technology that is required. The new unit is needed to be able to reach Statia’s objective to avoid the dumping of waste and consequently improve health and living conditions on Statia. 

More efficient

The new machine is more efficient and is fully tailored to the requirements of Statia. It is able to incinerate a higher volume of waste than the current machine. This new machine has the capacity to burn ± 500 kg of waste per hour. The choice of this specific incinerator was extensively reviewed by engineers, and by the directorate of Economy, Nature and Infrastructure. It forms the basis of modern incineration technology extra processes can be built into it. The new incinerator will be placed at the waste plant, next to the building with the old incinerator. The old unit will be kept to burn medical waste. EJL Services BV is the key partner of the Public Entity when it comes to waste management and is the provider of the new unit.

End of 2021

The new unit is expected to be operational at the end of next year, 2021. The operations of the unit will be dependent on the volume of waste to be processed on a weekly basis. Government Commissioner, Marnix van Rij is convinced that the new machine is a very good investment. “The purchase of the new unit is a fundamental step in realizing Statia’s ambitions in modernizing waste management, and an investment that will serve the island of St. Eustatius for the coming ten years”. (Statia GIS)

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INSO bought by Italian giant, Fincantieri Group. New Hospital Construction continues

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - It is with pleasure that SMMC has taken note of the news emerging from Italy that INSO, the general contractor for the St. Maarten General Hospital (SMGH), has been sold to the Fincantieri Group recently. The sale includes Fincantieri’s commitment to take on all of INSO’s projects which includes the construction of the new hospital.

The Fincantieri Group, which had a 5.8 billion euro turnover in 2019 and is widely known for its shipbuilding activities and infrastructure projects, will proceed with the establishment of a new company under its subsidiary Fincantieri Infrastructure in which it will hold 90% of the shares and remaining shares will be held by the Tuscany regional government. The sale includes Fincantieri to take over all current orders in the INSO portfolio, which includes the construction of SMGH, and all staff for a minimum of 3 years.

The sale of INSO is a result of the restructuring of its parent company Condotte d’Acqua through a so-called Extraordinary Administrative Procedure (EAP) backed by the Italian government which it (and all of its subsidiaries including INSO) entered into at the end of 2018. Three Extraordinary Commissioners were appointed by the Italian Government and had the executive powers to run INSO ever since. The main reasons for INSO to seek protection under the EAP procedure were financial problems at the parent company level. Condotte had sustained a considerable loss for one large project in Italy – a railroad station in Florence, which has since been cancelled by the Italian Government.  The EAP provides organizations protection against creditors/banks for the debts incurred until the commencement date of the EAP. Those debts will be paid from the proceeds from the sale of the company.

Medical Director, Dr. Felix Holiday, stated: “SMMC does have the option to accept the buyer under our agreement with the EAP commissioners and we look forward to a meeting in the near future to discuss the opportunity to discuss with such an established, large ship building and infrastructure contractor what has been a mutually beneficial continuation with INSO under its new ownership”

INSO’s project manager for SMGH, Carlo Orlanducci, stated: “we are happy to close the EAP process and look forward with enthusiasm being under new ownership and will continue with the construction of SMGH as per our current construction plan and timeline”.

More information about the Fincantieri Group can be found at: www.fincantieri.com.

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