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World Hepatitis Day 28 July: Eliminate Hepatitis

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, calls on the nation to eliminate hepatitis, a viral infection that affects 400 million people worldwide, over 10 times the number of people infected with HIV.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer. Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world but other infections, toxic substances (e.g. alcohol, certain drugs), and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis.

There are five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. These five types are of greatest concern because of the burden of illness and death they cause and the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread. In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and, together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.

World Hepatitis Day 2017 is being commemorated on Friday, July 28 under the theme “Eliminate Hepatitis,” to mobilize intensified action towards the health targets in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

In 2016, the World Health Assembly endorsed World Health Organization’s (WHO) first global health sectors strategy on viral hepatitis to help countries scale up their responses.

CPS profiles developments related to public health as part of its annual calendar of health observances as a way to inform the Sint Maarten community about trends in global health care.

New WHO data from 28 countries - representing approximately 70% of the global hepatitis burden - indicate that efforts to eliminate hepatitis are gaining momentum.

This week, WHO has also added a new generic treatment to its list of WHO-prequalified hepatitis C medicines to increase access to therapy, and is promoting prevention through injection safety: a key factor in reducing hepatitis B and C transmission.

Globally, about 1.4 million people die each year from hepatitis.  It is estimated that only five per cent of people with chronic hepatitis know of their infection, and less than one per cent have access to treatment.

Hepatitis can be fully prevented and treated: there are effective vaccines and treatments for hepatitis B, and new hepatitis C treatment can cure in more than 95% of cases.

The WHO vision of eliminating hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030 can be achieved with greater access to prevention and treatment for those affected. Eliminate Hepatitis.   

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3rd Annual Breastfeeding Photo Contest Deadline August 7

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – In connection with World Breastfeeding Week 2017 that will be observed globally from August 1 to 7, the Collective Prevention Service (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, the Department of Labour has organized its 3rd Annual Breastfeeding Photo Contest.

A notice about the contest was published at the beginning of July.  Those who would like to participate in the contest can still do so up until and including August 7.

You can enter by sending an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,that includes your name, telephone number, description of photo and why you chose to breast feed; one image of yourself and your baby breastfeeding.

The rules for the contest are: photographs must not be older than two-years; pictures must be submitted by the mother or partner; watermarks are not acceptable; pictures submitted after August 7 will be disqualified; pictures will be judged.

Prizes are: 1st, a weekend stay at Sonesta Maho Resort & Casino; 2nd, a breakfast at Divi Resort and a Pandora Gift Certificate; 3rd, a Gift Certificate from Indulgence by the Sea and a goodie basket from Marinique Capriles & Son.  

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Safe Haven and Ortega Sign MOU

PHILIPSBURG - On Wednesday the 19th of July 2017, Safe Haven represented by the President of the board of Directors Miss Angelique Rumou and Managing Director Miss Cassandra Richardson met with Mr. Benjamin Ortega and Mrs. Andrea Ortega to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Safe Haven and I-Novus.

The MOU sets out a formal cooperation agreement between the two parties from July 19th, 2017 to July 31st, 2020. The main purpose is the expressed commitment from Mr. Benjamin Ortega to support Safe Haven in promoting, raising awareness and funds for Safe Haven’s domestic violence educational program. 

“The first initiatives of the collaboration are focused on promoting the program. Secondly, we reach out towards sponsors to support our educational program on St. Maarten. Sponsors are very important to the foundation in order to keep any educational events accessible to our entire community. No access fees will therefore be asked for any of our events and they will be open for all, stated Ms. Richardson, Managing Director of Safe Haven. 

Safe Haven foundation is extremely elated to collaborate with I-Novus to organize a much-needed seminar for our community at large.

As Domestic Violence, is known to have a devastating effect on many families and to have a very adverse effect predominantly on the woman, many times the man/perpetrator is neglected.

The man is more often condemned, however proper assistance and rehabilitation is often times overlooked and he then repeats the execution of his ills. The seminar will focus on assisting and providing men with much needed guidance, moreover fathers, and will highlight the importance of fatherhood and the fathering of young boys. We implore our community at large especially our men to come out and learn new techniques which may assist you in combating your hardships but will also help with the grooming of your sons and in turn foster better boys who will be better men.

Mr. Ortega who is the director of I-Novus Innovative Solutions indicated the importance of contributing to the improvement of his direct surroundings. "If everyone would ensure to do as much as they can to improve their direct circle of trust and influence, a ripple effect will start and before you know it the world you live in will become a better place for us all."

This initiative is one that Ortega finds to be the foundation of our society. Being a father your main goal in life is to raise your children in a responsible safe manner and to safeguard them from all dangers. What we do and how we do things has a direct effect on them.  Ensure that you show your values and morals that contribute to a good society.

The general public will gain more information on the various initiatives and especially that of the first initiative of the Safe Haven/I-NOVUS collaboration, The Need to Father with Purpose and Love, that will be held in August 2017.

Visit Facebook, Safe Haven Foundation SXM for more information about the Safe Haven Foundation and find out how you can contribute or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Mr. Ortega can be reached via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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SMCP SMITH: CORRUPTION IS STILL RAMPANT IN GOVERNMENT

PHILIPSBURG – “Sint Maarten has probably made it in the Guinness Book of world records for having four integrity reports, within a period of fifteen months, written about the rampant corruption in government. These reports led to the writing of legislation to establish an Integrity Chamber. Sadly, after three years, four reports, and aborted integrity legislation, Sint Maarten still finds itself in a quagmire of corruption,” Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) Wycliffe Smith said in a statement on Thursday.

“As we write, several cases of corruption are being investigated by the prosecutor’s office such as, immigration fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion. In addition, our own General Audit Chamber has reported on the serious lack of transparency and integrity with regard to the appointments of directors and supervisory board members of government-owned companies and foundations. Furthermore, the Ombudsman in its annual reports has also referred to the lack of transparency and openness in government. And, I am certain that if the Integrity Chamber were established and functional many more corruption cases would be brought to light.

“Of course, corruption is not only limited to Sint Maarten but is rampant worldwide and considered a moral cancer in every society. It is therefore the duty of every country and the responsibility of every parliament and the obligation of every government to put mechanisms in place to root out this moral cancer in society. It goes without saying that our parliament must set the example by, establishing a Code of Ethics for parliamentarians. Conversely, if government began to uphold its own laws and enforce existing laws, Sint Maarten would be able to reduce corruption considerably throughout the civil force and in society.

“Corruption is “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”. To get a clearer understanding of corruption, Transparency International, in its publication entitled “Anti-Corruption Plain Language Guide”, subdivided corruption into three broad categories namely grand corruption, petty corruption and political corruption. Words that come to mind when discussing corruption are money laundering, bribery, extortion or blackmail, nepotism, cronyism, patronage, favoritism, dishonesty, unfairness, gift giving, kickbacks, lack of accountability, integrity and transparency.

“Transparency is about being open and shedding light on rules, plans, processes and actions. According to the National Integrity Action Organization in Jamaica, transparency is “knowing why, how, what, and how much. Transparency ensures that public officials, civil servants and board members act visibly and understandably, and report on their activities. And, it means that the general public can hold them to account. It is the surest way of guarding against corruption”. Based on the above explanation it is safe to conclude that there is definitely a lack of transparency in government in Sint Maarten.

“In all of its reports, the General Audit Chamber has made reference to a serious lack of transparency and integrity in government. In other words, there is clear evidence of corruption in government. In its most recent report, entitled “Administrative Appointments Part-2, an audit into the legitimacy and integrity of administrative appointments of directors”, issued July 2017, the Chamber, once again, made mention of the lack of transparency by stating that “the lack of transparency and the associated lack of integrity regarding the appointment of directors, is worrisome”. The Chamber also clearly advised Parliament to call the minister, responsible for the lack of transparency, to account. In other words, Parliament is the entity that has the ultimate responsibility to deal with corruption in government.

“During its first administrative audit, between 2014 - 2015, the Chamber mentioned that, of the 44 appointments to supervisory boards of government-owned companies and foundations, only 22 (50%) complied with the rule to have an advice from the Corporate Governance Council. Between 2015 and May 2017, when the Chamber checked into the appointments of directors of government-owned companies and foundations it found that, of a total of 23 appointments, only one appointment was done in accordance with the rules and in keeping with the principles of transparency. Mind you, only ONE!! This means that our honorable ministers themselves are guilty of breaking the law, when it comes to the appointments of directors and supervisory board members of government-owned companies and foundations.

“We still can recall a few of the controversial appointments that made headlines such as the appointment of the supervisory board members of GEBE as well the appointments of the directors of TELEM, the Tourism Department and GEBE. It is sad to note that Parliament has never raised a question concerning the various appointments mentioned in the reports issued by the Chamber.

“Neither has Parliament raised a single question concerning the most recent appointment of the brother of the Minister of TEATT as Director of the Princess Juliana International Airport Holding Company. We were told that because of family ties the Minister of TEATT abstained from voting on this issue in the Council of Ministers. This was done to avoid the appearance of a form of corruption called nepotism. However, this does not absolve the Minister from nepotism, because the way the relationship between government and government-owned companies is structured a Minister is the share-holder representative and as such the Minister of TEATT is responsible for the airport and her brother is accountable to her.

“Regrettably, with all the evidence available of corruption in government, Parliament has remained mum on the issue, whereas it is Parliament’s obligation to ensure that the various appointments occur, according to the rules and legal procedures, in an open and transparent manner,” Wycliffe Smith, Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party concludes.

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St. Martin Represented at International Bird Conference in Cuba 

  1. MARTIN/CUBA - Topes de Collantes, Cuba—Over 200 scientists, teachers and conservationists came together in Cuba this month at BirdsCaribbean’s 21st International Conference.

Held every two years, it is the only time when this far-flung community has a chance to work face-to-face to improve how birds are studied and protected. The event included nearly 150 presentations and workshops over five days.

St. Martin was represented by two members of the association Les Fruits de Mer. President Jenn Yerkes delivered a well-received presentation, The Human Element. She showed how the stories of people, like scientists and conservationists, can be used to interest people in birds and science. Mark Yokoyama hosted Reaching People, a writing workshop.  

“This year’s theme was Celebrating Caribbean Diversity,” explained BirdsCaribbean Director Lisa Sorenson. “We love the variety of birds here, but the diversity of our members is even more important. We brought people here from dozens of islands. We have different cultures and languages, but we all face similar challenges. The chance to share ideas improves our work all over the region.”

BirdsCaribbean is the region’s largest conservation group. Programs like the Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival, which highlights birds found only in the region, reach over 100,000 people each year. At the conference, festival coordinators on different islands share ideas and activities. Others are inspired to launch festivals on their islands for the first time.

Researchers sharing their work give ideas that can help save birds. Members learn how birds recover after hurricanes or prosper when farmers plant shade trees over their coffee. Then they can bring bird-saving tools back to their own islands. This year, one highlight was the large number of Cuban scientists.

“For almost 30 years, BirdsCaribbean has helped share the work of Cuban scientists with the rest of the world,” said BirdsCaribbean President Andrew Dobson. “Helping this collaboration has been a very rewarding part of our mission. It was also a joy to spend time with so many Cuban friends in one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful nature reserves.”

After five days of sharing stories and bird-sightings, members flew home to their islands. Each one brought back new skills and ideas. Tools developed on one island will soon be helping birds on others. Though many may do their work alone, they have friends and allies across the sea. In two years, the next conference will unite them again.

PHOTO: Mark Yokoyama leads a writing workshop during the conference. (Photo by Jenn Yerkes)

Writing Workshop

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CANTO 2017 - Digicel Here for the People of the Region 

SINT MAARTEN/DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - 14 years ago, Digicel arrived and started to invest in the Caribbean. They promised to rapidly transform the landscape and have done so by building their networks from scratch. Today, they continue to deliver. 

At their Ministerial breakfast on ICT offerings, delegates viewed a Digicel video presentation detailing its CARCIP tender which was a three (3) year development project to deliver a first-class network.

The project is intended to kick start ICT revolution in St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Grenada.  At the breakfast, Digicel reassured Caribbean governments of its commitment to development in the region and their willingness to do what is right for each market.

Tuesday also saw Multi-play and Content Strategies on the agenda with a Keynote delivered by Romano Solano, Sales Director, ZTE.  He noted that in the future mobile technology will be even more essential than it is today as it will have an impact similar to the introduction of the automobile or electricity. 

Though relatively new Mr. Solano noted that 5G will fully realize its economic benefits in 2035 and that in the US, it has the potential of producing more than 12 trillion dollars. It is expected to affect every industry of the global economy and by 2035 it will support 22 million jobs. Bringing it to reality however would require unified standards, persistent innovation, cross-boundary collaboration and commercial practice.

Other presenters included E Chris Forte, Cyient who dealt with the topic "Enabling a Connected Communications System"; Jose Luis Horna, CEO, Converlogic presented on "Embedded SIM (eSIM)".  Multi-play and Content Strategies was the focus of Christopher Gordon, Head of TV Customer Value Propositions, CWC, Mike Antonius, Acting CEO, Telesur, and Frederick Morton, of Tempo and Shamir Saddler, CEO, Smart Term.

In concluding, it was noted that the future of ICT is in business analytics. The IT professional of the future is the one who can analyze the data using quantitative methods and reveal the social interactivity.

PHOTO: Martin Carroll - Digicel

MARTIN DIGICEL

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Continue to take measures to eliminate mosquito breeding sites after rainfall to lower the mosquito population

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Collective Preventive Services (CPS), a government department under the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, says daily intermittent rainfall creates mosquito breeding opportunities, and therefore, every household and business enterprise needs to continue taking proactive measures to prevent mosquitos from breeding. 

Be on the alert for mosquito breeding sites and eliminate them especially after every rainfall event!

Actively destroy or dispose of tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools or other containers that collect and hold water. Do not allow water to accumulate in the saucers of flowerpots, cemetery urns/vases or in pet dishes for more than two days.  Throw out the water and turn them over every time it collects water.

Maintain ‘screen off cistern outlets,’ covers and screen off septic tanks properly, and screen windows and doors.

An increase in the mosquito population puts residents and visitors at risk for a mosquito borne disease.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) recently reported that the number of zika cases in the Caribbean has significantly declined from the outbreak of 2016, however, there is still need for continued vigilance and action on mosquito borne diseases, which pose a health security threat, a tourism threat, and an economic threat.

Zika, the newest and latest mosquito borne disease to the Region, came on the heels of chikungunya which affected the health and economic structure of most countries and territories.

In late 2015, the Caribbean confirmed its first case of the zika virus, followed by a dramatic increase in 2016.

The number of laboratory requests and confirmed tests peaked in August, then began a steady decline to December. The zika epidemic has shown signs of a significant slow-down, and the risk to residents and visitors is deemed much lower. However, the region continues to struggle and fight against the Aedes aegypti mosquito responsible for its transmission.

Zika has been associated with an increase in Guillian Barre syndromes (GBS) in five CARPHA member states (CMS). A zika-associated case of microcephaly has also been reported in one country. No reports of sexually transmitted zika cases in CMS have been documented. These associated complications can have a marked impact on the people affected and their communities.

Dr. C. James Hospedales, Executive Director of CARPHA said, “The Region has seen dengue, chikungunya, and now zika which is transmitted by the same mosquito, and the key to tackling them is prevention and control. We must continue to literally wage war on them. But we need to be smarter. We need new approaches and technologies and partners against this threat, which is present throughout most of the tropical world.”

CPS says the war on mosquitos requires an integrated collaborative and effective approach and therefore calls on the populace as well as visitors to wear light colored clothing at dusk; long sleeve shirts and pants; and use mosquito repellent to prevent being bitten by a mosquito that could possibly be carrying a mosquito borne disease.

For information about dengue fever, zika and chikungunya prevention measures, you can call CPS 542-2078 or 542-3003 to report mosquito breeding sites or send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Dutch want a strong leader, but are not protest voters: survey

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The typical Dutchman or woman casts his or her vote more out of conviction than in protest, opting for a strong leader who plays within the rules, the Volkskrant said on Monday.

The paper bases its claim on a large survey of voters registered in the Netherlands, Britain, France and Germany by Kanter Public, formerly known as TNS/Nipo. All were asked the same set of questions.

The results: Germany is the least susceptible to populist movements, France and Britain the most. The Netherlands sits somewhere in between, the paper said. The British and the French are seeking a strong leader, even more so than the Dutch, but they have the least confidence in democracy, elections and political parties.

The German stance is the opposite with Germans placing more trust in democratic institutions, trade unions and the European Union than individual people, the survey revealed.

Some 67% of Dutch respondents said the country needs a strong leader to get things done, compared with just 24% of Germans. The researchers asked why people vote: because they agree with the ideas of a certain political party or out of frustration with the other parties?

The Kantar report said 15% of the Dutch voted out of frustration and 21% did so in Britain. Figures were higher in France (37%) and Germany (41%). A minority (28% in the Netherlands, Britain and France) believe politicians are honest. But this figure was higher at 37% in Germany. (DutchNews)

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Independence for St. Martin Foundation Welcomes Statements by Dutch legislators

GREAT BAY - The Independence For St. Martin Foundation has taken good note of recent statements by members of the Dutch Second Chamber, Bosman (VVD) and Van Raak (SP) regarding their intention to approach the United Nations in order to facilitate the exit of Curacao, Aruba and St. Maarten from the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The Foundation sees this as a welcome development and agrees with the position of both Dutch legislators that the current constitutional arrangement within the Kingdom is not final.

The Foundation referred to a report in the Antillianse Daagblad of July 12, 2017 in which Bosman was quoted as saying we are only halfway with the decolonization process. “The Kingdom Charter is not final but an intermediate solution to be seen as a transfer phase. The Netherlands is obligated by the UN charter to develop a system of self government which would lead the countries into full independence,” the publication claimed Bosman stated.

“This has been our position since we were established in 1994,” the Independence for St. Martin Foundation said.

The Foundation further expressed the hope that the Dutch government’s promise to take the “pulse” of the people of St. Martin would not mean just talking to a few politicians and public office holders but actually “finding out the wishes of the people of St. Martin via a constitutional referendum.”

The Independence for St. Martin Foundation recalled that it has been pushing for a referendum on independence for St. Martin for the last three years, arguing that the last constitutional referendum in the territory was held 17 years ago.

‘We have met on several occasions with the Parliament of St. Martin which has the constitutional authority to convene a new referendum, and remain confident that Parliament will do so as soon as possible,” the Foundation stated.

The Independence for St. Martin Foundation said it is ready and willing to work with Bosman, Van Raak and all people of good will, both here on St. Martin and in the wider Dutch Kingdom and beyond, to achieve the goal of full political independence for St. Martin in a responsible and democratic way.

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