PHILIPSBURG:--- As part of the Ministries approach to developing partnerships, the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA) signed off on a collaboration agreement with the American University of the Caribbean, School of Medicine (AUC) on February 11th. Although the Ministry has been collaborating with AUC since 2012, this agreement formalizes and enhance the current relationship by creating the VSA-AUC Platform. This platform, will allow continued collaboration among representatives of the university, the ministry, health care institutions and the community for the common good of Sint Maarten.
AUC Executive Dean and Chief Executive Officer Heidi Chumley, MD stated, “AUC is proud to join the Ministry in developing programs to support public health research that can be used to inform the Ministry’s efforts on behalf of the citizens of Sint Maarten. This mutually beneficial partnership provides our physicians-in-training with the opportunity for meaningful volunteer experiences that are focused on the needs of the community.”
“The shared vision through this Platform allows for a win-win situation for both parties by enhancing the education of AUC medical students and providing resources and medical expertise to the Ministry. One of the main projects that is executed is a Chronic Disease Prevention Program utilizing the mobile health bus. With health care costs on the rise worldwide prevention programs are a proven means of reducing the burden of these diseases for a population. AUC will provide dedicated volunteers, students and faculty to assist with the execution of the program, through the use of this Platform. This Health Bus initiative will also be valuable in helping to collect data for the business case for the SMMC project,” stated Minister Lee.
Both parties recognize a mutual need to perform public health research. In 2013 through a joint research project, the zero-prevalence for Chikungunya Virus Disease could be established. The research will provide the Ministry with information that can be used as basis for public health activities and policies. The research will provide AUC medical students the opportunity to engage in public health research projects and gather experience by partnering with the Ministry VSA’s professionals.
This agreement also further solidifies the possibility to continue volunteering in the community. In line with Project H.E.L.P (Health Education Literary Project),, AUC medical students can partner with Ministry VSA’s professionals to perform focused community specific services.
Parties also recognized a mutual need to organize continuous medical education (‘CME’) on Sint Maarten for local medical professionals. The platform thus gives the opportunity for AUC to explore collaboration with NASHKO and other institutions, such as the University of South Florida (USF) School of Medicine, which would then allow for the provision of CME, across the health care spectrum to local medical professionals.