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UN health agency announces list of bacteria for which new antibiotics are urgently needed

SINT MAARTEN/INTERNATIONAL, 27 February 2017 – The United Nations health agency today published its first-ever catalogue of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health.

The list of priority pathogens consisting of 12 families of bacteria was drawn up to guide and promote research and development (R&D) of new antibiotics, as part of the World Health Organization (WHO)'s efforts to address growing global resistance to antimicrobial medicines.

“This list is a new tool to ensure R&D responds to urgent public health needs,” said Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO's Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation in a news release.

“Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options. If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time,” she warned.

The list highlights in particular the threat of 'gram-negative' bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics. These bacteria have built-in abilities to find new ways to resist treatment and can pass along genetic material that allows other bacteria to become drug-resistant as well.

The WHO list is divided into three categories according to the urgency of need for new antibiotics: critical, high and medium priority.

Priority 1: CRITICAL
  • Acinetobacter baumannii, carbapenem-resistant
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa, carbapenem-resistant
  • Enterobacteriaceae, carbapenem-resistant, ESBL-producing

The most critical group of all includes multidrug resistant bacteria that pose a particular threat in hospitals, nursing homes, and among patients whose care requires devices such as ventilators and blood catheters. They include AcinetobacterPseudomonas and various Enterobacteriaceae, including KlebsiellaE. coliSerratia, and Proteus. They can cause severe and often deadly infections such as bloodstream infections and pneumonia.

These bacteria have become resistant to a large number of antibiotics, including carbapenems and third generation cephalosporins – the best available antibiotics for treating multi-drug resistant bacteria.

G20 health experts will meet this week in Berlin. The list is intended to spur governments to put in place policies that incentivize basic science and advanced R&D by both publicly funded agencies and the private sector investing in new antibiotic discovery.

While more R&D is vital, alone, it cannot solve the problem. To address resistance, there must also be better prevention of infections and appropriate use of existing antibiotics in humans and animals, as well as rational use of any new antibiotics that are developed in future.

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WHO health organization releases new estimates on depression

INTERNATIONAL - The number of people living with depression increased by more than 18% between 2005 and 2015, according to a new WHO (World Health Organization) report.

Depression is also the largest cause of disability worldwide. More than 80% of this disease burden is among people living in low- and middle-income countries.

The release of these estimates, along with corresponding data on anxiety disorders, comes just six weeks before the World Health Day, which this year will focus on depression.

World Health Day will be the highlight of a one-year campaign "Depression: let's talk", the goal of which is that more people with depression, in all countries, seek and get help.

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NBA Joins forces with Rio Productions for the Lighted Parade 2017

PHILIPSBURG - Popular Carnival festivities organizer ‘Nothin’ But Alcohol’ (NBA) will be joining forces with Rio Productions this year and will form an integral part of the Lighted Parade, lighting up the night-time sky of Philipsburg on Saturday, April 1st 2017.

NBA has come on board with Rio in order to further enhance the participant experience and to grow the parade exponentially compared to previous years. The popular group, which has become known for its’ fun-time J’ouvert morning troupe, has grown to well over 1000 participants over the years.

“Teaming up with Rio Productions for the Lighted Parade has been something which we have considered for a few years already, and this year, we got together to make it happen.”.

The musical entertainment for the road will be a combination of bands and some of the Island’s most popular DJ’s. Back by popular demand will be the Small Axe Band and joining them on the road will be the Grand Masters Band both of which are bands out of St.Kitts.

The 2016 parade was a great success, in part, due to the addition of Soggy Dollar Bar.  This year Kurt Lukkert, known in the industry as “DJ Bossman,” will not disappoint as he will be adding new features and stepping up the look of his lighted “Rolls Royce”. Ever popular, DJ Outkast, will be rocking his road jams on the Upper Deck of the bandwagon for the night.

President of Rio Productions, Ms. Brenda Wathey is very excited about the new partner in the Rio Lighted Parade. “It has always been my intention to open the participation of the lighted parade to other groups and having NBA come onboard is the first step in growing the parade even further.

She further went on to say: “…it’s such a blessing to work with these young and energetic local professionals; their enthusiasm and experience in the entertainment industry is priceless”.

Wathey is also very grateful for the continued support of the platinum sponsors of the parade, namely Chippie and Coors Light (Caribbean Liquors and Tobacco) who have been a part of the organizing team and an integral part of the success of the parade since its’ inception.

T-shirts for the parade will go on sale during the Heineken Regatta at the CHIPPIE booth. As usual, Chippie will offer a package deal which will include a FREE Top Up. For those participants who purchase early, T-shirts will be available at a cost of $40.00 for the first week of sales, after which the cost of participation will be $45.00. Purchase will include, 1 T-shirt, 1 set of LED string lights, Open bar and access to any music truck in the parade.

For more information concerning the start of t-shirt sales, participants are encouraged to follow Rio on Facebook or visit the Rio Productions web page for more detailed information:  www.rioproductions.sx

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Multilingual education is 'absolutely essential,' UNESCO chief says on Mother Language Day

SINT MAARTEN/INTERNATIONAL, 21 February 2017 – Learning languages is a promise of peace, innovation and creativity, and will contribute to the achievement of global development goals, the head of the United Nations agency for culture and education has said, marking International Mother Language Day.

“There can be no authentic dialogue or effective international cooperation without respect for linguistic diversity, which opens up true understanding of every culture,” said UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova in her message on the Day.

“Access to the diversity of languages can awaken the curiosity and mutual understanding of peoples. That is why learning languages is at one and the same time a promise of peace, of innovation and of creativity,” she stated.

This year, the International Day, observed annually on 21 February, is devoted to multilingual education.

Ms. Bokova said the Day is an opportunity to mobilize for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in particular Goal 4, to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.

“Education and information in the mother language is absolutely essential to improving learning and developing confidence and self-esteem, which are among the most powerful engines of development,” she said.

As such, she appealed for the potential of multilingual education to be acknowledged everywhere, in education and administrative systems, in cultural expressions and the media, cyberspace and trade.

International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by UNESCO's General Conference in November 1999, and it has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

 
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CIBC FirstCaribbean assists start-up entrepreneurs

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN - A number of start-up companies and young people with great business ideas will soon get an additional avenue to bring their plans to fruition.

Ten Habitat, a non-profit organisation which focuses on developing investor-ready start-up Caribbean entrepreneurs and regional bank CIBC FirstCaribbean have partnered in a venture to support local and regional start-ups.

Gary Brown, Chief Executive Officer of CIBC FirstCaribbean and Chairman of CIBC FirstCaribbean’s charitable foundation,  and Selwyn Cambridge, Founder of Ten Habitat, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the bank’s Warrens, St. Michael offices which will see the bank supporting the work of Ten Habitat with a yearly grant of USD$15 000 for the next three years.

“At CIBC FirstCaribbean, we recognise the need for young entrepreneurs to get that grounding in starting their businesses and so we support the work of Ten Habitat and organisations like it that will hold the hands of young start-ups to guide them on the way to successful businesses,” Mr. Brown said following the signing.

Ten Habitat will work with young entrepreneurs, by exposing them to a range of hands-on support that will assist them in building their businesses. The organisation boasts a global network of experts, mentors and coaches who help the start-ups move their ideas from concept to reality and then further facilitate them by mobilising the Caribbean Diaspora to invest in those businesses.

CIBC FirstCaribbean is one of the first corporate entities to support Ten Habitat in their quest to assist the young entrepreneurs as part of a programme which will be rolled out in Barbados first and then to the rest of the Caribbean.

Ten Habitat supplies mentorship, guidance, funding and a co-working space for the businesses and stages a number of key events annually aimed at strengthening their various skills.

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Amid global paradox, solutions that unify economic and social progress needed – UN labour chief

INTERNATIONAL, 20 February 2017 – Highlighting that many around the world are left out from being able to benefit from global prosperity dividends and that even flourishing societies are seeing inequalities widen, the head of the United Nations labour agency today called for solutions that can bring economic growth combined with social progress.

In his message on World Day of Social Justice, UN International Labour Organization chief Guy Ryder also underlined that the feeling of absence of social justice: children without secure futures, parents without decent jobs and a general feeling of abandonment, have grave consequences not only for communities and societies, but for economies as well.

“We need solutions that lead away from conflict and towards recovery, to economic growth with social progress, solutions that build institutions girded by labour standards that guarantee rights at work,” said Mr. Ryder.

“In an interconnected world this is a global agenda and a global responsibility,” he added.

Marked this year with the theme 'Preventing conflict and sustaining peace through decent work' the Day calls upon the international community work towards eradicating poverty, promoting full employment and decent work, gender equity, and access to social well-being and justice for all.

Mr. Ryder also stressed that lack of decent jobs and the fear that aspirations for a better life will remain unfulfilled multiplies people's worries, leaving young people without a “stake in society.”

Urging for the formulation of policies that can deliver the decent work opportunities given their importance for the stability and success of societies, he added: “[The words] Si vis pacem, cole justatium: 'If you seek peace, cultivate justice' […] are as compelling today as they were when written nearly one hundred years ago when the world was emerging from the ravages of war.”

In 2007, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 20 February as World Day of Social Justice, inviting Member States to promote national activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the World Summit for Social Development and the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly.

Also today, UN independent human rights experts underlined everyone's right to a standard of living that ensures adequate health and well-being for themselves and their families, including access to food, clothing, housing, health care and social services.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which sets out these rights, also makes clear that all people are entitled to a social and international order in which their rights and freedoms can be fully realized,” said Alfred de Zayas, UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order; and Idriss Jazairy, UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights.

They also underlined that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include commitments to eradicate poverty, provide clean, affordable energy, promote peaceful and inclusive societies, and implement nationally appropriate social protection systems for all, including social protection floors.

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Global heat melts Arctic and Antarctic sea ice to record lows – UN agency

SINT MAARTEN/INTERNATIONAL, 17 February 2017 – It should be winter on the Arctic pole – the northern most point in the world – but the equivalent of heatwaves have passed over the region this season melting the sea ice volume to a record low in January, the United Nations meteorological agency said.

“Temperatures in the Arctic are quite remarkable and very alarming,” said David Carlson, Director of the World Climate Research Programme which is co-sponsored by the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Council for Science.

Sea ice extent was the lowest on the 38-year-old satellite record for the month of January, both at the Arctic and Antarctic, according to data cited WMO from both the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and Germany's Sea ice Portal operated by the Alfred-Wegener-Institut.

The Arctic sea ice extent averaged 13.38 million square kilometres in January, according to NSIDC. This is 260,000 square kilometers below the level in January 2016 – an area bigger than the size of the United Kingdom.

“The recovery period for Arctic sea ice is normally in the winter, when it gains both in volume and extent. The recovery this winter has been fragile, at best, and there were some days in January when temperatures were actually above melting point,” said Mr. Carlson.

“This will have serious implications for Arctic sea ice extent in summer as well as for the global climate system. What happens at the Poles does not stay at the Poles.”

In addition, the ice levels at the Antarctic are also at record lows, even thinner than expected for the summer season there.

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UN kicks off preparations for upcoming summit on oceans, launches voluntary commitment website

SINT MAARTEN/INTERNATIONAL, 15 February 2017 – The world dumps the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute, the United Nations heard today at the start of a two-day meeting to prepare for this June's Ocean Conference that will aim to help safeguard the planet's oceans and help them recover from human-induced problems.

“When leaders from across Governments, international organizations, civil society, the private sector, and the scientific and academic communities, gather together in New York, from 5-9 June for The Ocean Conference, we will be witness to a turning point,” the President of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson, told the participants, who also included the Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden and the Minister for Fisheries of Fiji, the countries co-hosting the conference.

“We will witness the point in history when humanity truly began the process of reversing the cycle of decline that accumulated human activity has brought upon the Ocean,” Mr. Thomson added.

The high-level Oceans Conference aims to get everyone involved in conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically Goal 14.

The UN has called for voluntary commitments to implement Goal 14 and today launched an online commitment registry which has its first three commitments – the Swedish Government, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and Peaceboat, a non-governmental organization. The site will be up through the end of the Conference, which starts on World Environment Day, marked annually on 5 June, and includes 8 June, celebrated as World Oceans Day.

The voluntary commitments “underscore the urgency for action and for solutions,” said Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo, who heads the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs and serves as the Secretary-General of the Conference.

Addressing participants today, Mr. Wu said preparations for the Conference are “on track.”

“The health of our oceans and seas, and the future wellbeing of our planet and our society, demand no less,” he said.

In addition to pollution, The Oceans Conference and SDG 14 address overfishing, as well as acidification and increasing global water temperatures linked to climate change.

Discussing the problems ahead of today's preparatory meeting, Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, Isabella Lovin said in a video log on Twitter that the Conference could be a “chance of a lifetime” to save the oceans under enormous stress.

“We don't need to invent or negotiate something new, we just need to have action to implement what we already agreed upon,” she said in reference to the expected 'Call to Action' that will result from the Conference in connection with stopping illegal fishing, stopping marine pollution and addressing the special circumstances of small island developing States.

Representing one of the many small island nations struggling with these issues, the Minister for Fisheries of Fiji, Semi Koroilavesau, urged Conference participants to make voluntary contributions, saying the oceans are of “utmost importance” to his country.

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S’MAATIN ENGLISH COMPETITION ON INT’L MOTHER LANGUAGE DAY

PHILIPSBURG – In commemoration of International Mother Language Day (February 21), the Honorable Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (MECYS) Silveria Jacobs invites the general public, schools, poets and literary artists to participate and present in an upcoming S’Maatin English Poetry/Storytelling/Narration Competition.

This event will be held on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at the New Government Building on Soualiga Blvd., in Conference Room 1, 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. and is hosted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization National Committee (UNESCO NatCom) in collaboration with the Department of Culture.

Since 1999, UNESCO has designated February 21 as the annual International Mother Language Day which serves to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by people of the world (www.unesco.org).

Knowing, writing and speaking in one’s mother language is an essential tool for the transmission and safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage (ICH). Therefore this year we seek to highlight our very own local and mother tongue language ‘S’Maatin English’ in order to increase awareness and inspire pride in our oral traditions, history and cultural expressions.

Students and persons of all ages are encouraged to sign up for this competition and will be asked to create and recite poems, tell stories, perform skits and/or narrate from books in ‘S’Maatin English’. There will be a judging panel and prizes will be given to the top three finalists.

To participate or present at this event please contact the St. Maarten NatCom for UNESCO via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and/or the Department of Culture via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A signup sheet can be downloaded directly from the St. Maarten Government website at www.sintmaartengov.org

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St. Maarten team ready for key meetings with airlines

POND ISLAND - A delegation from St. Maarten is currently attending the 10th Routes Americas conference is Las Vegas and will kick off a series of meeting with airlines, new and potential, for destination St. Maarten.

Routes brings together a range of airlines, airports and tourism authorities, including some of the largest carriers from North, Central and Latin America. This event offers the opportunity to meet with some of the most influential aviation professionals from across the Americas region.

The Routes Americas Strategy Summit along with a welcome reception will be held on Tuesday, followed by key face-to-face meetings and networking on Wednesday. Discussions held at Routes can pave the way for future negotiations to secure additional airlift to the island.

Attending on behalf of St. Maarten is a group from the Princess Juliana International Airport lead by Manager of operations Michel Chance and Manager of Marketing & Customer Service Department Suzy Kartokromo, representatives from the Cabinet of the Minister of Tourism Senior Policy Advisor Julian Lake and Chief of the Cabinet Mellissa Doncher, Tourism/Marketing consultant Rolando Brison and representative of the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau Marla Chemont.

“We are excited to create new opportunities for the country in collaboration with SXM Airport. It is imperative to listen to the interest of the airlines and find tangible ways to forge new, mutually beneficial business ventures for the destination. It’s very important that we not only create interest to our island through marketing efforts, but create avenues via new or expanded airlift for our guests to come enjoy our beautiful island,” Lake said.

Each year Routes Americas, which is the annual gathering of air service decision makers for the Americas region, attracts the region’s senior decision makers positioning it as the must attend event for all those interested in meeting with the industry’s key players.

In 2017 Routes Americas is expected to attract over 80 airlines, 280 airports and almost 40 tourism authorities along with a number of other industry stakeholders from across the region to discuss air service development.

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