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Minister Lee participates in launch of report on Universal Health in the 21st century

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour Emil lee recently participated in the launch of the High-level Commission's report on Universal Health in the 21st Century: 40 Years of Alma-Ata.' This event was held on April 9 and 10, in Mexico City, Mexico. The report outlines ten recommendations on how countries can ensure that all people have access to health in the Region of the Americas and was presented by the Mexico’s highest authorities, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the United Nations, and members of the High-level Commission.

In a short address, Minister Lee shared the following statements during the event: “The report is a validation that the process we are on to transform the health care system is on the right track. There are aspects of the report that address the principles of solidarity and access to health care as a basic human right, which is the foundation of we have been using as we redevelop our health care system on Sint Maarten. Our current social insurance system is fragmented, consisting of six different funds with different packages and schemes; alongside this, you have the private insurance. The challenge is to find a way to unite these all into one system. The held here [at the event] are no different from the discussions being held in Sint Maarten.” 

Minister Lee shared two specific comments on the recommendations outlined in the report. Comment 1: the process of incorporating universal health insurance is very much a political process as much as it is a process of transforming health care and financial management. The recommendations do not reflect this reality and more attention should be paid to this aspect. Comment 2: recommendation #10 poses the ultimate question – how do you finance it? Finding a sustainable financial model is the ultimate challenge in universal health coverage and something that we in Sint Maarten are still perfecting. The composition of the High-level Commission could have had more representation from a financial and economic perspective. The report could have included more tangible examples of how other countries have managed this financial question, highlighting the successes and failures. The Ministry is taking the lessons learned from neighboring countries, the mechanisms of private sector and is thankful to PAHO for their contributions and assistance to Sint Maarten so far in providing technical assistance.

As outlined in the report, the main recommendations for achieving universal health include:

1.Ensure the right to health.

2.Develop models of care based on primary health care (PHC).

3.Generate social participation mechanisms.

4.Generate mechanisms for regulation and control of the private sector.

5.Eliminate barriers to health access.

6.Address social determinants with intersectoral interventions.

7.Reposition public health as the guiding axis of the State’s response.

8.Value human resources as protagonists of PHC.

9.Promote the rational use and innovation of technological resources.

  1. Ensure efficient and sustainable financing.

The 17 members of the Commission participated in the presentation of the report. These members consist of academics, former health ministers, activists and representatives of social movements, as well as delegations from 28 countries, including 18 ministers of health in the Region, including from Bahamas, Barbados, Bolivia, Curacao, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela and Minister Lee representing Sint Maarten. To read the Commission’s report, visit: www.paho.org/WHD

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SHTA & JetBlue discuss on how to deal with "Active Shooter" Situations

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - This past Tuesday, the Sint Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA), in conjunction with JetBlue and Sundial School held a masterclass “How to react when your business is under armed Threat”. There was a special segment specifically on school safety. 60 representatives of hotels, businesses and schools were present to learn from former special agent Miguel Figueroa (JetBlue / Supervisor, International Security Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport) about how to deal with malignant armed individuals.

Unfortunately, incidents involving armed individuals happen. The association thought it prudent to provide this training in order to increase confidence and awareness among members by providing knowledge on how to react just in case an event might occur.

The presentation is part of the “Jet Blue for Good” program. The program aims to share specific knowledge and best practices with partner destinations. Other islands in the Caribbean will host comparable programs. There is no reason to believe there is an imminent threat of an armed incident, the focus of the meeting centered around the benefit of preparedness and awareness. As specialist Figueroa put it “prompt and educated decisions could be the difference between live or death in situations like this”.

Among the attendees were, teachers of SHTA member schools Asha Stevens Christian Hillside School, MPC/Sundial and University St Martin (USM), as well as managers and security specialists from various properties and companies.

Figueroa discussed a long list of international “active shooter incidents” involving multiple casualties. Based on the philosophy “Run, Hide or Fight”, Figueroa taught the priorities in case of such an event. “Fighting should always be the last resort in a situation like this”.

The SHTA initiative was one of the first in its kind for Sint Maarten. SHTA hopes none of our visitors or residents will ever be faced with such a situation. SHTA does hope that the knowledge provided can be used in the event such an incident occurs and help keep individuals safe.

SHTA thanks the attendee, JetBlue for making Mr. Figueroa available and Sundial for hosting the event. SHTA tries to contribute to a better quality of life for all Sint Maarteners. For more information, see shta.com/vision-2025 or call 5420108.

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PARENTS GET INFO ON SZV HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - April is recognized by the SZV as Autism awareness month and in light of this, SZV was invited by the Sister Basilia center to provide information on the AVBZ health insurance coverage to both parents of clients and the staff.

The AVBZ insurance specifically caters to persons with a chronic illness. Persons with a chronic illness are typically in need of nursing or care because they can no longer maintain themselves as an independent individual in society.

These conditions may exist as a result of a disease or complication thereof or due to old age. As part of the scheduled parent’s evening hosted by the Sister Basilia center, SZV representatives provided information about the role of SZV as executing agency, the AVBZ law, entitlement, procedures and general requirements for access to health care products available under the AVBZ insurance package.

In addition to the information session, SZV presented the Department Manager of the Sister Basilia Center Ms. Mimi Hodge with a donation of ten (10) tickets for an Easter Egg hunt for the clients of the center. Both parents and staff posed various questions, but also gave SZV representatives feedback on customer service, access to information and tips for improvement as it relates to customer relations. SZV commends the dedication of the both parents and staff of the center for their commitment to improve the services available at the Sister Basilia center and the interest to learn more about the social and health insurance services and options at SZV.

“The Sister Basilia Center provides day and night care for children and adults with intellectual and / or physical disabilities. On behalf of Sister Basilia Center team, client and families we thank the AVBZ team for a very informative meeting. Base on the information session the parents and team are more informed of AVBZ services. We are very delighted to also see the AVBZ team highlighting Autism and bringing awareness to the community. Clients and families are also very happy with the 10 donated Easter Egg hunt tickets by the AVBZ team. Management, staff and parents look forward to a continued good working relationship with the AVBZ team.” – commenting as representative of the Sister Basilia Center, Department Manager Ms. Mimi Hodge.

SZV info session for parents of Sister Basilia Center clients

Unit Manager Operations of SZV Mr. Reginald Willemsberg presenting the AVBZ law during the information session at the Sister Basilia Center.

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Monthly Price Comparison Explanation by Inspectorate Ministry TEATT

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – The Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (TEATT), via its Inspectorate, publishes a monthly price comparison of an expanded list of items (including items on the maximum price list) to show the comparative prices of goods of items across various retailers on the Dutch side of the island.

Minister of TEATT Stuart Johnson, says Government monitors closely the cost of living and is doing what it can within its regulatory framework to provide transparency and assists consumers in helping them make informed decisions based on a comparative price listing which they can use when they are out shopping. Economic Controllers are at the forefront of this transparency process and work diligently carrying out their responsibilities according to the law.  

Price comparison is a key choice tool for consumers. It enables consumers to compare products (similar or dissimilar) across the market, reduce the amount of time searching and comparing, and ultimately get better deals thus hopefully contributing to an increase in consumer buying power.

It is not the Inspectorate’s objective to suggest to the public that one product is superior or inferior in quality to another but rather motivate the St. Maarten consumer to exercise their consumer power by making them aware that there are options in how and where they spend their money.

In the most recent publication of the price comparison list it featured ‘meat and seafood’ products across 10 food retailers (of varying size) on the Dutch side. The methodology employed by the price surveyor during the observation process is simple; the prices of goods included in the price comparison list are surveyed “as is” meaning the surveyor records the retail price of the good as indicated on the shelf or packaging supplied by the retailer, in the retailer’s establishment.

This is the same retail price observed by the consumer and no calculations or changes are done to the price by the surveyor and they are published “as is”. On Friday, April 12th 2019, the Inspectorate became aware that Carrefour Market, a food retailer featured in the April 12th publication of the price comparison list of Meat Products had posted on its social media page alleging, “The retail price comparison done by Government of Sint Maarten is wrong! They are taking the 5 Pound pricing from the shelf and putting it as Kilogram pricing! We have previously mentioned to them that they are not comparing the same products across supermarkets.”

According to the Head of the Inspectorate of TEATT, Lucien Wilson, “We take allegations of this nature seriously.  That is why we do our best to ensure in the preparatory phase that the information we will communicate to the public is accurate, transparent and timely.

“Likewise, the spreading of misinformation for unknown reasons must also be dispelled objectively as soon as practical for the protection of the consumer and to deter a breakdown of trust in the government by the public. To that end, moving forward we will also record price observations by taking a picture of the price as well, to increase transparency.”

Subsequently, on April 12th a follow up price observation was conducted at Carrefour Market. Once again, the surveyor modeled normal consumer behavior by observing the retail prices of the goods displayed “on the shelf” at Carrefour Market.

The findings including photos are published along with this article for public consumption and awareness. The observation dates of our initial price comparison were April 8th and 9th with the follow up observation date on April 12th, when we revisited Carrefour Market, specifically.

In most cases, our observed price/kilogram of meat and seafood at Carrefour Market remained unchanged between the observation periods. Of the 15 products observed, nine products we observed no changes in price/kilogram. Two products had price movements (increase or decrease) of less than ANG1.00/kilogram.

The biggest price movements were observed in Stew beef, Oxtail and Goat meat. The price/kilogram of Stew beef decreased by ANG18.13 to ANG11.82/kilogram within a four-day period. The price of Oxtail decreased by ANG36.61 to ANG 13.34/kilogram during the same time period. Lastly, the price of Goat meat increased by ANG8.35 from ANG27.44 to ANG35.79/kilogram.

It is important to note the following observations as well. All but one of the packaged meat products (goat meat) observed on April 12th had a packing date after April 9th.

However, despite a more recent packaging date, the majority of the price per kilogram observed remained unchanged. Secondly, all weights of the products observed were displayed in kilogram on the pricing labels during the observation’s periods of April 8th, 9th and 12th as required by the National Ordinance on Calibration art. 6, paragraph 1.

So, Carrefour Market was in compliance with the law.

However, according to their social media post they are claiming that they retail these meats products based on price per pound and not price per kilogram as quoted here, “They [Economic Controllers] are taking the 5 Pound pricing from the shelf and putting it as Kilogram pricing!” In the pictures posted on its social media page Carrefour Market has provided no evidence that it sells the observed meat products by the pound to support the aforementioned statement, quite the contrary the weight is listed in kilogram.

Additionally, Carrefour Market alleges that our price observations are incorrect even in those cases when they report the same price per kilogram as listed in the price comparison list. Case in point, the price per kilogram of Salted fish (bone in and boneless) and Bull foot in our price comparison list is the same as what they posted on their social media page on April 12th, 2019.

According to the Head of the Inspectorate, Lucien Wilson, “I stand by the findings of my Controllers with regards to the price observations at Carrefour on April 8th, 9th and 12th.

“We also consider the fact that our price comparison list garners so much attention as a positive thing. Our intention is to educate and engage the consuming public on exercising their buying power and to stimulate market competition by the power of the wallet. This is what causes retailers to respond. An educated consumer is a powerful market force. So, from the perspective of the Inspectorate, we view this as mission accomplished!”

All business featured in the price comparison list are encouraged to contact the department via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by visiting their offices at Juancho Yrausquin Boulevard #6 (opposite FairWay Mark It) if they have any concerns, complaints or suggestions.

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Cruise industry calls for destinations to offer cultural experiences COCI learns at SeatradeCruiseGlobal Conference

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – A delegation from the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) recently returned from attending SeatradeCruiseGlobal Conference that took place from April 8-11 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

COCI representatives stated that the cruise industry is looking for unique cultural experiences that defines the destination which cruise travelers can experience during their one-day visit.

“Many destinations in the Caribbean Basin offer similar shore excursions and cruise travelers are experiencing the same things on each island that they visit.  Another point that was brought forward is to offer amenities for families.  Family travel is a trend that has been increasing and for this reason the cruise lines have been adjusting its ships to two- and three-bedroom accommodations.  Sint Maarten needs to adjust its activities and products to cater to this trend. 

“With more people cruising every year, travelers will be able to tell their story about their destination experience and this ‘word of mouth’ advertising is the way people travel.  Creating a selfie spot at your business or giving travel experiences that they would record and upload to social media is the best advertisement.  Nine out of 10 persons spread the word by ‘word of mouth’ advertising.

“The wow factor is also very important. Cruise destinations have to follow trends.  You have to think of new experiences and as things change within the cruise sector, you also have to adapt your business model.  Competition is a wonderful thing as it keeps you on your toes.  Diversity is today’s business.

“Video is the main marketing tool.  More investments should be made in this area and businesses should use this more to showcase their product and services.  The trick is to show a lot, but not everything you have to offer.  The element of surprise keeps the cruisers coming back to you on a yearly basis.

“It is a fact that the authentic branding of your product or services will increase your repeat customers.  According to a recent survey conducted by the Sint Maarten Department of Statistics, repeat cruise customers spend much more on their fourth or more visits to the island.    

“Cruise representatives at the conference were very pleased with Sint Maarten’s bounce-back after the hurricane and sees the destination as a clear example of best practices post-disaster economic recovery,” COCI representatives said on Tuesday.

SeatradeCruiseGlobal brought together over 11,000 professionals within the cruise and travel sector and beyond. The conference is the cruise industry’s most significant worldwide event that presents the opportunity to promote the island and the business community.

Other conference trends that were brought forward was the reduction of emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, and all brands in the cruise line industry are working together on making this goal a reality.

Also, in attendance were the winners of the Chamber’s 40th anniversary initiative of ‘inclusion’ which resulted in the program ‘Business Pitch to Seatrade,’ allowed the following companies to participate Cocomoods Concepts of Crystal Coombs, VooDoo Entertainment, headed by General Manager Paula Daal-Dono, and Yoda Guy Movie Museum Foundation headed by Director Nick Maley.

The three local businesses had the opportunity to join Team Sint Maarten and represent the country at the Conference, adding that, it is an occasion to stimulate and promote their business, the island and cruise tourism.

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Rotary Sunset Donates to Maternal Yoga Program

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – In efforts to promote the importance of exercise and maternal health care, the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset is sponsoring prenatal yoga sessions for expecting mothers. These sessions are being conducted by instructors at Joga SXM.

April is recognized by Rotary clubs worldwide as Maternal & Child Health Care month, where Rotarians worldwide engage in various projects and initiatives focused on saving mothers and children. An estimated 5.9 million children under the age of five die each year from preventable illnesses and inadequate health care, a concern that is one of Rotary’s key area of focus.

Prenatal yoga is a multifaceted approach to exercise, which encourages stretching and focused breathing. Very similar to many other types of childbirth preparation classes, prenatal yoga is safe and has many benefits for pregnant women and their babies. It helps to improve sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, increase strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth and decrease lower back pain, headaches and shortness of breath.

“Participating in some form of physical activity during pregnancy helps to boost energy, improve sleep, reduce discomfort, and prepare for labor. We would like to encourage pregnant women who are in their second and third trimester to consider participating in one maternal yoga session, sponsored by Rotary Sunset. Maternal yoga is one alternative for pregnant women to relax and stay fit while preparing for delivery. This offer is being extended to pregnant women who would like to see if prenatal yoga is right for their physical fitness needs. We strongly advise women who would like to participate to discuss it with their health care provider prior to attending the session,” President Jaida Nisbett stated.

Joga SXM offers prenatal yoga sessions on Fridays at 7pm and Saturdays at 12pm. Joga SXM is located at 16 Welfare Drive #2B in Cole Bay, in the building behind First Caribbean International Bank. Interested persons are asked to contact Joga SXM at 721-544-1555 or email the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Rotary Sunset would like to extend its heartfelt gratitude to Joga SXM for the opportunity to partner with the club on this initiative. The club would like to encourage expecting mothers on either side of the island to take full opportunity of this offer.

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St. Maarten Lions Club donates $2,000 to wheel chair bound student

SINT MAARTEN (SUCKER GARDEN) – The Sint Maarten Lions Club recently donated a cheque of US$ 2,000.00 to Accessible Ventures transportation services on behalf of Family Miggins, the civic club said in a press statement on Tuesday.

“Earlier this year the family reached out the Club requesting assistance towards transportation fees for their son, who suffered an injury, a few years ago which left him wheel chair bound. The young man is still able to attend school via the services provided by Accessible Ventures.

“Article 28 of the United Convention on the Rights of the Child states that all Children have the right to an Education, and in this case, the Sint Maarten Lions Club is happy to have assisted this family to ensure that their son can continue to attend school and finalize his education.

“Funds for these activities are from the Lions Club annual fundraising events held during the year. “Building a Strong Foundation – Youth by Youth” - is the theme selected for this Lionistic Year by our President Mrs. Carmen Lake,” the Lions Club press statement concluded.

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Minister Dekker highlights changes for victim support

SABA - On Friday April 13th Minister for Legal Protection, Sander Dekker, during meetings with Island Governor Jonathan Johnson and key partners in the justice chain on Saba highlighted several new and positive developments for the island in keeping with the ministry’s effort to improve victim support.

Among these changes are the implementation of the juvenile criminal law and the introduction recently of a victim compensation fund. The Minister further shared that within short it will be possible for notarial deeds to be signed and formalized on Saba.

The Minister discussed with experts the results of the youth prevention project and further discussed the project on prevention and raising awareness on domestic violence and child abuse, both funded by the Ministry of Justice and Security.

Minister Dekker met with two police representatives to discuss trends in crime on Saba and practical aspects in law enforcement. “I first visited Saba in 2013 in the capacity of State Secretary of Education, Culture and Science.

“I am very impressed with the developments I have seen. It is rewarding to see the results coming out of the Education Conference. As Minister for Legal Protection I get the opportunity to now work together with the Public Entity of Saba and the partners in the justice chain to ensure the safety of the people of Saba,” Minister Sander Dekker. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Amuseum Naturalis to Launch Research Library and Poetry Exhibit

ST. MARTIN (FRENCH QUARTER) - The Les Fruits de Mer association will be showcasing two new projects at Amuseum Naturalis this month. One is Soualibra, a free research library focused on St. Martin. The other is an exhibit of poems from Hurricane Protocol, the latest book by acclaimed St. Martin author Lasana M. Sekou.

“We’re excited to launch two projects related to the written word and St. Martin,” said Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “The Hurricane Protocol exhibit will be a new way to experience the work of this renowned St. Martin poet.”

The poems in Hurricane Protocol were written during the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. They explore the impact of the destruction on individuals, families and communities. Selections will be presented in a large format outdoor installation, the first museum exhibit for Sekou and the first poetry exhibit at Amuseum Naturalis.

Soualibra is a research library collecting books and other materials from and about St. Martin. The library catalog, including links to digital resources, is at http://soualibra.com. The physical library is at Amuseum Naturalis in French Quarter. It contains over 100 books about nature, history, culture and literature. Soualibra’s wishlist contains many more. Susanne van Mierlo is Soualibra’s head librarian.

“When the libraries on the island closed after Hurricane Irma, it was a wake-up call,” explained Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “We can’t offer the range of services of a public library, but a resource focused just on St. Martin that is open to the public is something we think will have lasting value. Only a tiny fraction of this information is available online.”

The launch of the Hurricane Protocol exhibit and a special preview of Soualibra will take place at the Endemic Animal Festival at Amuseum Naturalis. The festival is a free public event for all ages that celebrates the unique wildlife and natural heritage of St. Martin. The 2019 event will take place at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House in French Quarter on Sunday, April 28th from 9am to noon. This year’s event is made possible by Gold Sponsor Delta Petroleum and sponsors 97150, BirdsCaribbean, Buzz, IZI Light, L’Auberge Gourmande, Lagoonies Bistro and Bar, L’Esperance Hotel, St. Martin’s Sweetness and Tri-Sport.

Hurricane Protocol Exhibit

The Hurricane Protocol exhibit will launch at the Endemic Animal Festival.

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June 1 Hurricane Season: CBCS launches hurricane awareness campaign

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - With the start of the hurricane season approaching on June 1, the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) wants to promote hurricane preparedness in the community of Sint Maarten.

According to the comprehensive assessment by the Government of Sint Maarten and the World Bank, the total damage and losses from hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017, were estimated at USD 2.7 billion, of which only between USD 320-430 million in damages was covered by insurance.

Unfortunately, from assessments conducted at insurance companies, the CBCS determined that a significant number of properties did not possess suitable insurance coverage and were, amongst others, underinsured.

To raise community awareness on the importance of being prepared and adequately covered for the upcoming hurricane season, the CBCS will launch an awareness campaign for the next eight weeks leading up to the hurricane season.

The CBCS will do so by means of a variety of ads with short messages to prompt the attentiveness regarding specifically the importance of proper insurance coverage amongst the citizens of Sint Maarten.

Knowing your risks, getting prepared, and staying informed are just a few steps you can take to get ready for the hurricane season. Review your property insurance coverage and other insurance policies to ensure that you are adequately covered.

Take time to read and understand exclusions, and finally yet very important, make sure the payment of your premium is up to date. Contact your insurance company or broker if you have any questions or need clarification regarding the terms of your policy.

This campaign is in line with the CBCS’ strategic plan and is one of several other campaigns that the CBCS has already launched with the objective to promote financial self-reliance within the community.

Copyright Cheryl Casey Shutterstock

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