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Minister Lee meets with Minister Victorina.

eleevictorina01062016PHILIPSBURG:--- During his recent trip to Curacao, Minister of Public Health, Social Development & Labor Emil Lee met with the Minister of Public Health, Environment & Nature in Curacao Siegfried Victorina to understand what lessons had been learned in regards to the construction of their new hospital and health care cooperation within the Kingdom
“In our desire to spend the people’s money wisely, we should learn from others what they did right and what they did wrong. “We are incorporating lessons that the Ministry of health has learned in the process of building a new hospital in Curacao, and are modifying our process accordingly ” stated Minister Lee.
With the construction of the new hospital in Curacao much of their cost overruns was in the planning stages rather than the construction stages. “One of the recommendations given to us is that: we should build transparency and accountability into the agreement when building our new St. Maarten Medical Center. Unfortunately in Curacao, it was very much based on trust and good will.”
Minister Lee also took the opportunity to tour their new hospital construction site which is large and will have approximately 300+ beds.
Also discussed with Minister Victorina was Quality control on healthcare. Curacao has a referral committee for all of their referrals abroad, and do Medical peer reviews, and Minister Lee believes that this can be another area of cooperation between the Ministries. “We would also like to look into coordinated purchasing where by bulking our purchases together we hope that St. Maarten can negotiate better prices for the referrals of our patients abroad, medical equipment, and the exchange of specialists which can give us specialties in a cost friendly manner” the Minister concluded.

St. Maarten and Curacao Ministries of health cooperate on war with mosquitos
emillee01062016In an effort to increase awareness amongst the general public of St. Maarten regarding mosquito borne illnesses, particularly about the Zika virus, Minister Emil Lee has established cooperation with Ministry of Health in Curacao to produce and market materials regarding mosquitos and mosquito borne illnesses. “Curacao has done an excellent job in producing and providing awareness material. They have a video and brochures in different languages of which can be easily utilized in St. Maarten, stated Minister Lee in the press briefing on Wednesday.
As the war against mosquitos continues to affect the Caribbean region the Ministry of VSA is working diligently to eradicate mosquito breeding sites and educate the public. Pooling resources together with Curacao will shorten the time frame and decrease the costs of producing educational material for distribution on St. Maarten.
Curacao is very excited about the various concepts on how they can get the message out on mosquitos, and that a formal cooperation agreement between the Ministries is being worked on. “In a time where everyone has limited resources and tight finances, I think that cooperation makes all the sense in the world” said the Minister.
In addition, Collective Prevention Services (CPS) under the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor have contracted a Vector Control Specialist for the next 6 months to assist CPS with the implementation of a National mosquito program. The Minister also added that at this moment there are 11 known cases of the Zikka virus on the Dutch side of St. Maarten.

VSA working on approach to regulate Commercial sex workers
Based on a memo from the Prosecutors office indicating that Government was facilitating human trafficking, and the advice of the Minister of justice, Minister Lee ordered the issuing of work permits for commercial sex holders to be put on hold.
Given the recent court ruling, the Ministry of VSA has been ordered to continue the processing of work permits for commercial sex workers. In order to ensure that Government is not enabling human trafficking, the Ministry of VSA is working on an approach to regulate commercial sex workers informed Minister Lee during Wednesdays press briefing. He stated that his Ministry has started doing research on what the options are, and that he doesn’t feel it’s necessary to re-invent the wheel.
“Curacao, Aruba, and Bonaire all have commercial sex industries and we are looking at how they regulate it. We are going to begin first by tapping into our resources in the Dutch Caribbean and looking at how they handle the matter in their legal system. On short notice, VSA will come with a recommendation, and it will be up to the Council of Ministers whether or not this approach would work or if the other approach by the Ministry of Justice will be finalized” said Minister Lee.

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