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In final address, UN health chief urges world body to ‘remember the people’ behind the facts and figures

INTERNATIONAL, 22 May 2017 – The outgoing chief of the United Nations health agency today highlighted the relevance of the World Health Organization (WHO), and offered its decision-making body parting advice that included protecting scientific evidence, pushing for innovation and thinking of people in every decision that is taken.

Remember the people,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan told the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva. “Behind every number is a person who defines our common humanity and deserves our compassion, especially when suffering or premature death can be prevented.”

Among other advice, Dr. Chan, who steps down after two five-year terms, urged the body to work towards realizing the “tremendous potential of vaccines. She noted that the current measles outbreak in Europe and North America would have never occurred, had immunization coverage not dropped below the necessary 95 per cent threshold.

She also stressed the importance of listening to civil society, calling it “society’s conscience” and who can “give people who suffer the most a face and a voice.”

Refuting what she called “frequent criticism” that WHO has lost its relevance, Dr. Chan pointed to a recently issued report tracking how public health has evolved during her 10 year administration.

“It is a tribute to the power of partnerships and the capacity of public health to take solutions found for one problem and apply them to others,” the senior UN official said of the report.

As an example, she noted that while it took nearly a decade to lower the prices of antiretroviral treatments for HIV, thanks to teamwork and collaboration, the prices for new drugs to cure hepatitis C fell within two years.

‘We falter sometimes, but we never give up’

“This is the culture of evidence-based learning that improves efficiency, gives health efforts their remarkable resilience, and keeps us irrepressibly optimistic,” Dr. Chan said. “We falter sometimes, but we never give up.”

WHO’s relevance was “most dramatically demonstrated” during last month’s global partnership meeting on neglected tropical diseases, she said. Participants celebrated a decade of “record-breaking progress” to eliminate the diseases.

“The fact that, in 2015, nearly one billion people received free treatments that protect them from diseases that blind, maim, deform, and debilitate has little impact on the world’s geopolitical situation. The people being protected are among the poorest in the world,” Dr. Chan said.

She added that this was “a success story that the world was hungry to hear.”

Dr. Chan did admit fault, however, in WHO’s handling of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa; the virus has recently re-emerged near the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.

The outgoing chief said that “WHO was too slow to recognize that the virus, during its first appearance in West Africa, would behave very differently than during past outbreaks in central Africa, where the virus was rare but familiar and containment measures were well-rehearsed.”

While the organization made “quick course corrections” to bring three outbreaks under control and helped create the first Ebola vaccine, the outbreak happened on Dr. Chan’s watch “and I am personally accountable.”

Current health challenges, elections top Assembly’s agenda

The year’s World Health Assembly, which includes 194 countries, will discuss what has been learned from that outbreak, as well as from WHO’s handling of Zika and other diseases.

Experts will also provide an update on how Angola responded to last year’s Yellow Fever outbreak, which exhausted the global vaccine stockpile several times.

The current cholera epidemic in war-torn Yemen is also on the agenda; only days ago, WHO described it as “unprecedented.”

Polio is still causing misery and paralysis in three countries where it is endemic: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, so delegates will continue to push for the complete eradication of the wild poliovirus, for which there is no cure, only prevention.

In addition to tackling these health threats and many more, the World Health Assembly has one more important task – choosing Dr. Chan’s successor. The three candidates hoping to step into her shoes after the vote tomorrow afternoon are Tedros Ghebreyesus from Ethiopia, David Nabarro from the UK, and Sania Nishtar from Pakistan.


On Day for Biological Diversity, UN says tourists must protect nature that draws them

INTERNATIONAL, 22 May 2017 – Tourism must not undermine the nature that attracts tourists in the first place, said the head of the United Nations-backed treaty on biological diversity, marking International Day for Biological Diversity.

“Tourism grows, so does the risk of harming the environment […] It will be important therefore such developments do not undermine the very natural beauty that draws tourists in the first place,” said Cristiana Pasca Palmer, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in her message for the Day, which this year is celebrated under the theme Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism.

Many natural areas with rich biodiversity, such as beaches, coasts and islands, mountains, rivers and lakes, are popular tourism destinations. Roughly half of the leisure trips taken globally are to natural areas, she noted.

It is therefore important to understand that the way tourism is managed will impact biodiversity and conversely, the way ecosystems are managed will impact the sustainability of tourism, as tourists will not come to polluted or degraded destinations.

The Convention was adopted on 22 May 1992 as the international legal instrument for “the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources” that has since been ratified by 196 nations.

In 2010, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 22 May as the International Day for Biological Diversity.

In his message for the Day, UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General Taleb Rifai said: “Together we can make tourism an ally in fighting loss of biodiversity and achieving the Global Goals for a better world.”

In that regard, UNWTO is encouraging more destinations to set up sustainable tourism observatories, he said.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has also been working with all its partners to explore pathways for ensuring the long-term sustainability of tourism while also ensuring that it contributes positively to biodiversity.

“Biodiversity is as necessary for nature and humankind as cultural diversity, to build stronger, more resilient societies, equipped with the tools they need to respond to the challenges of today and tomorrow,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in her message for the Day.


Venezuela: UN human rights chief regrets opposition leader being blocked to travel

INTERNATIONAL, 19 May 2017 – Amid rising violence in Venezuela, the United Nations human rights chief has expressed regret that the Latin American country’s opposition leader was allegedly blocked from leaving the country for New York, where they were planning to meet.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has said on Twitter that he regrets that Henrique Capriles was unable to travel and hoped that the incident is not a reprisal linked to the planned meeting with him in New York today, Mr. Zeid’s spokesperson, Rupert Colville, told reporters in Geneva.

The spokesperson said that the High Commissioner would go ahead with a meeting this afternoon in New York with Mr. Capriles’ lawyer who would share a report prepared by Mr. Capriles.

“We find the rising tensions in Venezuela very alarming, and incidents like that involving Mr. Capriles yesterday are unlikely to help reduce tensions,” the spokesperson said. 

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) also regrets the continued loss of lives during the political unrest, he said. According to the latest figure, 42 deaths were confirmed in the context of the protests. 

OHCHR is monitoring the situation from outside the country, but it would be good to be able to visit the country as the situation is very worrying, the spokesperson said. 

He expressed concerns about allegations of excessive use of force by security forces, reports of violence by armed groups, as well as reports that people detained during the protests are being brought before military tribunals, not civilian courts. 

OHCHR also urges demonstrators to protest peacefully.


Sint Maarten Police Force Warns Caribbean Community on Cyber attacks

PHILIPSBURG - Over the years, the Police Force of Sint Maarten (KPSM) has been handling different forms of complaints of cybercrime. In the wake of the recent global threats by ransomware viruses, KPSM has embarked upon an initiative to raise awareness on the growing ransomware and other cybercrime problem.

Recently, a global cyber attack (Wannacry) in the form of a ransomware has affected more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries. Organizations affected includes hospitals, railway systems etc. This ransomware is being described as the most dangerous and damaging attack in cyber attacks history.

Why is this attack different?
What makes this attack different from others is the ability for the ransomware to spread on its own without any human input. Previous ransomware of its type depended on human input to spread throughout the network.  This new variant however combined this capability with the “computer worm” capability to replicate itself in order to other computers. Once infected, the virus will encrypt targeted files making them useless. It then displays a message on your computer screen demanding a ransom in order to get the files back. We warn that there is no guarantee that by paying the ransom, your files would be restored. Contacting the cybercriminals can also make you a future target since they may now have your information.

False perception of safety
There is often a false perception that because a device is listed as not affected by a specific type of virus that such device is safe to use. Note that a mobile phone for example can also act as a carrier of any virus even if it is not affected by that particular virus. This means that the virus can be copied to your Smartphone and lay dormant until you connect the Smartphone to a vulnerable device like your laptop or computer which can then be infected.

Another false perception for the Wannacry ransomware is that there is now a kill switch that saved the world from the virus. Although it is true that a turn of switch has been discovered in the code of the virus, this only slows down but does not stop the problem. The kill switch works by stopping the virus from activating if the infected computer has access to the internet and connect to a particular domain. However, if that computer loses access to the internet it can no longer connect to the domain and then proceed to infect the computer.

Avoid being victimized
The best way to avoid being affected by any ransomware or virus is by always being aware of the threats and taking immediate actions to secure your systems. This virus is so dangerous that Microsoft has released updates for even outdated operating systems. Below are a few examples on actions that can be taken to secure your personal or company network from cyber attacks:

  • Safe browsing habits: Be careful when clicking on suspicious links on websites and in emails. A method known as phishing tricks users into clicking on links or attachments in emails or on websites. Never click or open unsolicited links or attachments without verifying this with the sender first. Also be aware of those tempting flashing and links on websites. These links are sometimes created in such a way that you are tempted into clicking on them.
  • Always keep your computer up to date by enabling the automatic download feature in Windows to download the latest updates. Microsoft has also rolled out updates for unsupported operating systems like XP and Server 2003. You must also update these systems.
  • Employers of private and government owned companies should always:

- stay aware of threats;

- Take action to protect their network;

- Maintain awareness throughout their organization by always informing their employees on new cyber attacks.

These examples are especially crucial for critical organizations and infrastructures, such as Medical Centers, telephone and internet providers, power distribution companies and the aviation industry.

It is also important to instruct your employees on how they can help to avoid these threats. It is also very important that proper back-up plan be put in place so that you can recover your data if you are a victim of a cyber attack.

Even though most Wannacry attacks happened outside of the Caribbean, everyone is at risk of being attacked at any given time. The Police Force of Sint Maarten therefore encourages the community to remain alert and to take immediate action to protect yourself against cybercriminals. (Police Force Sint Maarten)


Experts race against clock to quell Ebola outbreak in remote DR Congo province – UN

INTERNATIONAL, 18 May 2017 – A race against the clock has begun to contain an outbreak of Ebola in a remote northern area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said today. 

Twenty cases of Ebola have been reported in the DRC's Bas Uele Province – near the vast country's border with the Central African Republic – two have been confirmed by laboratory tests and three people have died so far, the agency says.

On 9 May, WHO noticed a cluster of unexplained illnesses and death, all with bleeding symptoms in the same area. WHO, the Congolese Government and the medical aid organization, Alima, immediately deployed a team to the field and lab tests confirmed it was Ebola. Two days later, the DRC Ministry of Health officially declared an outbreak of the virus. 

“It's important to note that Likati Health Zone is one of the most remote parts of the DRC. It is 1400 kilometres from Kinshasa and 350 kilometres from the nearest major town, Kisangani,” said Dr. Peter Salama, the WHO Executive Director for Health and Emergencies Programmes, speaking to the press in Geneva.

The logistic and practical challenges associated with the response to the outbreak in a very remote and insecure part of the country should not be underestimated  – WHO's Dr. Peter Salama

He also said there are only 20 kilometres of paved roads in that area and virtually no functional telecommunications. It is also an area that has been subject to insecurity and displacement. “The Lord's Resistance Army is believed to be active in the area and their displaced populations from the ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic,” he noted. 

With the help of the UN, the first search teams, led by the DRC's Ministry of Health, flew into Likati on yesterday. Their immediate priority is to follow the 400 plus contacts of the suspected Ebola cases. 

The focus is on surveillance, getting the best information on the suspected cases, diagnosing people who have come in contact with an infected person, case management, isolating those who are infected to prevent the spread of the disease and more importantly engaging with the community, explained Dr. Salama. 

Meanwhile, the first Ebola treatment centre has been established in the Likati General Hospital. Protective gear has been dispatched to health workers and a mobile lab is being constructed and then deployed to the area. Immediate repairs to air strips and telecommunications are also being carried out.

The first six months of the operation are expected to cost $10 million.

Risk assessment 'high' at national level; 'low risk' globally

WHO has determined overall that the risk assessment for this event is “high” at the national level, medium at the regional level and low at the global level.

An experimental vaccine for Ebola is being tested in Guinea, where the first outbreak of Ebola in West Africa was reported.

The trials there have been “promising” and the vaccines has proven to be efficient and safe so far, Dr. Salama told reporters, while Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, added that she is encouraged by the rapid response to quell the outbreak.

“We have not received an official request from the Government for this vaccine but they have been made aware that this possibility exists both to benefit from this new tool and also to add their support in the testing of this vaccine, she said, reiterating the experimental nature of the vaccine and expressed hope the authorities “will work with us to consider this and make a decision.”

This is the eighth outbreak in the DRC since 1976. The most recent was in 2014, around the time more than 11,000 people died and some 28,000 cases were reported in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.


Identifying all-time deadliest weather events, UN says history can help mitigate future disasters

INTERNATIONAL/CARIBBEAN, 18 May 2017 – The United Nations weather agency today announced “world records” for the highest reported historical death tolls from tropical cyclones, tornadoes, lightning and hailstorms, marking the first time its Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes has broadened its scope from temperature and weather records to address impacts of specific events.

“Extreme weather causes serious destruction and major loss of life. That is one of the reasons behind the WMO's [World Meteorological Organization] efforts to improve early warnings of multiple hazards and impact-based forecasting, and to learn lessons gleaned from historical disasters to prevent future ones,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. 

“The human aspect inherent in extreme events should never be lost,” he added. 

While the in-depth investigation by a WMO expert committee documented mortality records for five specific weather-related events, it did not address heat- or cold-waves, drought and floods. 

The experts found that the highest mortality rate associated with extreme weather was during a 1970 tropical cyclone through what was at the time East Pakistan, which killed an estimated 300,000 people. 

Other record-breaking weather events included a 1989 tornado in Bangladesh that killed an estimated 1,300 people, destroying the Manikganj district; a 1994 lightning-caused oil tank fire in Dronka, Egypt, which took 469 lives, whiled 21 people were killed by a single lightning bolt to a hut in the Manica Tribal Trust Lands in what was then Rhodesia; and Meanwhile, a 1888 hailstorm in near Moradabad, India, which killed 246 people with hailstones as large as “goose eggs and oranges and cricket balls.” 

The findings were announced ahead of two major conferences on improving multi-hazard early warning systems and strengthening disaster risk reduction, taking place in Cancun, Mexico from 22 to 26 May and organized by WMO and the UN Office on Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). 

Overall mortality can also decrease as a result of continuous improvement in related forecasting and warning infrastructure.

“These events highlight the deadly tragedies associated with different types of weather. Detailed knowledge of these historical extremes confirms our continuing responsibilities to not only forecast and monitor weather and climate but to utilize that information to save lives around the world so disasters of these types are lessened or even eliminated in the future,” said Randall Cerveny, WMO Rapporteur on Climate and Weather Extremes. 

The experts stressed that vulnerability is a function of both the risk of an event and the adaptation or resilience to the event. For example, heatwave-related mortality tends to decrease as air conditioning becomes more widespread. Similarly, lightning casualties decrease when munitions storage facilities install lightning rods and athletic programs establish lightning safety protocols. 

Overall mortality can also decrease as a result of continuous improvement in related forecasting and warning infrastructure. For example, the MeteoAlarm system in Europe is a web-based service designed to provide real-time warning for people travelling in Europe of severe weather.

“Yet even with these improvements, mortality from weather-related events will continue. In order to put potential future weather-related catastrophes into accurate historical context, it is useful to have knowledge of baseline changes in weather-related mortality as monitored over the last one hundred and fifty years of official international weather records,” said the WMO committee.


Lifestyle changes can cut dementia risks in 50 and 60-year-olds

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – People in their 50s and 60s with an unhealthy lifestyle can still halve their risk of developing dementia by cutting out bad habits, using their brains more and taking more exercise, according to researchers at Maastricht University and Utrecht’s teaching hospital.

The impact of lifestyle changes still has an impact on the dementia risks of people in their 70s but not any older, according to the article in the new online edition of Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The researchers have developed an predictive index known as LIBRA to determine the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s based purely on risk factors that can be altered. ‘Many people think dementia cannot be avoided but that is not the case,’ project coordinator Sebastian Kohler told the NRC.

‘It has already been calculated that if everyone lived a healthy lifestyle, the number of Alzheimer patients would go down by a third.’

The index is based on 300 factors known to have a role in developing dementia including depression, diabetes, lack of physical activity, hypertension, obesity, smoking, coronary heart disease, and mild or moderate alcohol use.

The research is based on following nearly 10,000 people who took part in six major European programmes on dementia. (DutchNews)


Minister Jacobs Tribute to Cultural Icon Neville York 

POND ISLAND – On Tuesday, May 16, Minister of Culture Silveria Jacobs paid tribute to Neville York before he was laid to rest. 

Tribute To Neville York – Cultural Icon, Accomplished Musician, Scholar, Policy developer, Heritage Specialist, Businessman, Teacher, St. Maarten Legend

“Sweet Salt is about Neville York sharing the creative memory of the pan basin with us, thereby uniting us through the pan with the musical experiences surfacing from the depths of the Caribbean Pan Basin” Camille Baly - Local Historian and former head of the Dept of Culture and Youth.

Neville started in 1995 as a Cultural worker in the Dept of Culture and Youth under the leadership of Mr. Camille Baly, who served as his mentor for many years; sharing his humility, grace and soft spoken authority with Neville.  

An avid student and a great example of a life-long learner, his enthusiasm for learning and sharing his knowledge and expertise was renowned within the ministry, government, the many local and international organizations he contributed to.

Having grown up in a musical family, known for its pioneer role in the introduction of pan to St. Maarten, Neville was destined to be an accomplished musician. He followed his dream after high school, where he’d already received regional recognition with diplomas earned in Guadeloupe, to pursue his music degrees among others. Last I checked he held Bachelors and Masters in Music, Bachelor in Spanish and Business Administration, and was working on a second Masters in Business; he never stopped learning. 

Much can be learned from his voracious appetite to know more and continue to grow personally as well as influence the growth and development of culture here at home, in the Caribbean and around the world. 

In 1999 after the reorganization of the department, Neville became the head of the Social and Cultural Development Department and from 2010 – present due to Constitutional change, he became the head of the Culture Department under the MinECYS (Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports).

His research into areas pertaining to heritage preservation knew no bounds. His heritage family around the world highlighted a few areas in which Neville excelled: in character, personality and passion for Culture, Heritage preservation locally and regionally and the promotion of the Arts.

“A true visionary of the Caribbean who sought to build capacity by bringing the region together through tangible and intangible heritage, Neville became the unifying force around the proposed serial nomination for Eastern Caribbean fortifications. He was a member of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) International Scientific Committee on Fortifications and Military Heritage (ICOFORT). Neville was a champion who brought awareness to Caribbean heritage internationally, and in the context of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). An acclaimed musician locally and globally, Mr. York was the St Maarten Head of the Department of Culture in the St. Maarten Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs. 

We give God thanks for his life and legacy, and wish his wife, family, loved ones, and co-workers much comfort and our condolences.”

Patricia Green -head of CARIBBEAN SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE - University of Technology, Jamaica

“Calm demeanor and gentle smile, always willing to assist professionally and personally….” - Ian Constantine - Engineering & Architectural Preservation, Saint Lucia

“We met only once in 2013 in Antigua and Barbuda for the World Heritage workshop. Since then, we have communicated over e-mails, and spoken on the phone so many times. The last call from him was 2 months ago, informing me about the latest news on the proposed serial nomination for the Eastern Caribbean fortifications and his intension to re-activate the network. It was always a pleasure to speak with him, he was dedicated, energetic and passionate with full of ideas. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.  May his soul rest in peace” - Sachiko Haraguchi (Ms)Coordinator, World Heritage Programme for SIDS

UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Paris (France)

“I met him twice and besides his professional skills and knowledge of the region, I remember his enthusiasm and everlasting smile…” –

Alessandro Balsamo - Nominations and Tentative Lists Manager

World Heritage Centre, UNESCO, Paris, France

The accolades about this legend from around the world continue with words such as:

“Easygoing, Talented, humble, gentle spirited, passionate about heritage, his music and the development of the region, kind, generous, direct, driven, fired up, concerned, knowledgeable, tireless and humble, absolutely focused on improving cultural recognition and heritage conservation in his island and dreaming on how to expand that spirit all over the Caribbean – a splendid human being!!!”

All these international voices echo the sentiments of his small staff, colleagues in management, the entire Ministry of ECYS and by now the general population of Sweet S’maartin.

From our initial meeting in 2012 when I first held this post, I sat in awe at the extent of knowledge, research, passion and dedication Neville displayed for Cultural Heritage and the arts, including his vision for its future development. Neville would become as excited as a kid in a candy store if he found someone who shared his vision and passion and was quick to pull out a document related to whichever goal I mentioned as wanting to move culture forward. It was as if he had a treasure trove of research just waiting for the support and funds to push it to the forefront.

Patient, kind and strategic are also words I use to describe this incredible man, whose reach it appears has been boundless.

Neville always sought to give credit to all who supported him and his ideas, and worked hard to bring them to fruition by all means possible, whether with local funding or international funding via his affiliates in the UNESCO Heritage sphere.

Some of his achievements within the Ministry over the past few years:

• Cultural policy framework

• Dept Cultural Policy Plan 2015-2019 also called the Vision 2020 – Opening windows and building bridges on the Principles of Human Dignity under which the following achievements were being realized

• Decade of revitalization of our Natural and Cultural heritage 2013

• Lead the creation of the Cultural Calendar 2013 – research on Heroes and heroines of St. Maarten – to be republished as a book

• Guided the process toward the preservation of the island’s forts, Salt Factory, restoration of the Methodist Church, Brick Building, Passagrahan Hotel

• Organized the Caribbean Capacity Building workshops in 2014-2016

• The Caribbean Small island development states meeting held in 2014 which began the process of the world heritage nomination

• Neville also spearheaded the Coastal fortification which enabled St. Maarten along with other Caribbean islands to begin the process of getting coastal forts on the World Heritage list. 

• Neville was also in the process of establishing a talent development scholarship that enabled the Youth of St. Maarten to further develop their skills in their chosen art form. 

• St. Maarten becoming co-signee to the Unesco Intangible heritage convention

• Was currently busy with the protection Underwater Cultural Heritage 

• Established the Caribbean Pitch it Foundation to assist government with the execution of its many cultural events

• Spearheaded the Steel Pan in schools program which began at the Learning Unlimited and MAC with Caribbean Pitch it and funds received from the Fonds voor Cultuurpartitiepatie in the Netherlands

• Participated in the planning of various events and activities over the part fifteen years for events such as the St. Maarten Day celebrations

• Spearheaded the Establishing of Emancipation day and Constitution Day as National holidays

• He was a pioneer when it came to the protection of the island’s heritage. Working on various laws and policies including laws and policies  on archeology, the arts, and cultural expressions

• He was currently working with Daniella Jeffry on a book concerning Cultural Identity, a spin-off of the symposium with the same topic.

• Labeling of monuments should be finalized in 2017

Neville’s legacy will live on through his attitude, his research, his writings, his music, his teaching of children and adults, the lives he's touched. 

His spirit will live on with every ping of the pan, every monument restored, labeled and recorded, every spoken and written word archived, every documentary filmed, every song composed, written, recorded and performed, every dance choreographed danced and videographed, every piece of art conceived, created, displayed and sold, every art facility restored, expanded and built.

The sweet salt we reaped, burned our fingers and blinded our eyes, but the yield produced survival!! As we reminisce on the sweet memories and 'suck salt' at your early demise, we pray your spirit guides us to realize your goals and dreams for S’Maatin and the Caribbean. Together we can!

Our prayers for strength and endurance of the Neville spirit in his family, friends near and abroad and to Sxm and her neighbors as we allow him to move on. We pray he knows how dearly we hold him, how high he is esteemed, and how long his name will ring on this earth!!!

Sometimes I wonder, did we stifle the artist by forcing him to write policy, make a dollar out of fifty cents, or was he just that complete; able to bounce between the art world and work of cultural and heritage preservation? Or did his musical forays with his students and in his performances keep him charged up to be able to make the global difference in his day job?

We will never be certain, but what we do know is there was a man, a great man, who lived with a passion for music, culture, heritage and the arts in general who has made a great impact on our lives. Let’s take the lesson of his life along with us on a daily basis, and smile, work hard, play hard, encourage others along the way and make a difference!!! He had passed the baton, may we all have the courage to take it and Run!


At China's Belt and Road Forum, UN chief Guterres stresses shared development goals

INTERNATIONAL, 14 May 2017 – Speaking at a major international conference in Beijing, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today drew comparisons between China's 'One Belt, One Road' initiative and the Sustainable Development Goals, saying both are rooted in a shared vision for global development.

“Both strive to create opportunities, global public goods and win-win cooperation. And both aim to deepen 'connectivity' across countries and regions: connectivity in infrastructure, trade, finance, policies and, perhaps most important of all, among peoples,” the Secretary-General said addressing Chinese President Xi Jinping and dozens of other state leaders at the Belt and Road Forum.

The attendees represent some of the more than 60 countries included in the Belt and Road plan that China introduced in 2013 to stimulate trade and economic growth along the ancient Silk Road and beyond.

“In order for the participating countries along the Belt and Road to fully benefit from the potential of enhanced connectivity, it is crucial to strengthen the links between the Initiative and the Sustainable Development Goals,” Mr. Guterres noted, adding that the 17 Goals can guide the policies and actions under the Belt and Road towards true sustainable development.

The initiative reportedly includes nearly $1 trillion worth of infrastructure investments in Africa, Asia and Europe. As these projects – which include bridges, nuclear plants and railways – unfold, Mr. Guterres highlighted the need to work together to uphold international environmental and social standards, and ensuring that rural areas, not just cities, benefit.

“With the initiative expected to generate vast investments in infrastructure, let us seize the moment to help countries make the transition to clean-energy, low-carbon pathways – instead of locking in unsustainable practices for decades to come,” he said, praising Chinese leadership on climate change.

He also urged donor countries to continue investing in development projects through official development assistance (ODA), and urged them to fulfil their commitments under the Addis Ababa Plan of Action, which finances projects related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Mr. Guterres also called on Governments to settle peacefully any tensions related to the One Belt, One Road initiative, saying that “just as the initiative opens new corridors for goods, let us also keep open the channels for dialogue.”

He praised the initiative for its “immense potential” to promote access to markets, and as “far-reaching in geography and ambition.”

Since arriving in China on 13 May, Mr. Guterres has met with senior Chinese officials, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi. He also held a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.


“Letters of May” Book Launch and Art Exhibition, in light of Mental Health Awareness Month

CAY HILL - On Friday May 19th, Escaping The Vault, together with the Mental Health Foundation are collaborating to present to you the “Letters of May” Book Launch and Art Exhibition at the Mental Health Foundation’s Faraja Center on Leopard road #1. The launch and exhibition will be held on Friday, May 19th from 5pm to 7pm.

Julie Alcin of Escaping the Vault has been instrumental in trying to raise awareness for mental health and to do this she came up with a project called “Letters of May”.  Letters of May will be publishing artwork (writing, letters, poets, drawings and paintings) to allow persons that deal with or have dealt with mental health to tell their story in way that spreads hope, educates, and help put an end to stigma.

This project has the following goals; raising awareness for mental health, giving hope to those that struggle with mental health, showing how it is to live with mental health, helping putting an end to the stigma on mental health and educating others on mental health.

The deadline for submitting artworks was mid-April, and the event will be used for the launch of the “Letters of May” book, whereby all artworks will be showcased to the public, as well as to its creators.

The public and mental health stakeholders and relations are invited to attend the art exhibition on Friday May 19th, 2017 at 5 PM to see the beautiful artworks displayed, at the Mental Health Foundation’s Faraja Center.

MHF is the leading secondary Mental Health care provider on the Dutch side of St. Maarten and has been operational since 2006. In addition to providing support and treatment for mental health issues brought on by the everyday challenges of life, MHF is currently the only mental health facility in Sint Maarten that provides 24-hour inpatient care to individuals suffering from the most severe forms of mental illness.

The Mental Health Foundation and Julie Alcin look forward to the launching party of the “Letters of May” Book & Art Exhibition.

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