GREAT BAY:--- The Ministry of Public Health Social Development & Labor Section General Health Care a section of Collective Prevention Services officially opened the Dengue training at the A.C. Wathey Legislative Hall on Monday, November 4, 2013. Minister of Public Health Social Development &Labor, Cornelius De Weever officially opened the week long training for members of public health and stakeholders.
The training aims to increase and sustain the knowledge of the trainees with respect to mosquito and dengue control. As there is no effective vaccine or medicine available as yet to interrupt dengue transmission, disease prevention through vector control is an important component of disease control, but also a very challenging one. For this reason surveillance and control of the Ae. Aegypti mosquito will receive extended attention during the training. In addition, there will also be focus on dengue surveillance and control predominantly from a public health perspective and less from a clinical perspective or individual case management. Therefore, public education and participation will be presented.
At the end of the training everything will come together when the importance of integrated collaboration of actors will be stressed. To prepare for the future attention will be given to the possibilities of the future arrival of the Chikungunya and the Asian tiger mosquito, Ae. Albopictus.
"This is a form of the Ministry moving forward as we try to obtain as much knowledge as possible to take care of our community," said Minister Cornelius De Weever.
The facilitators for the trainings are: Dr. M. Braks, Public Health Professional, Dutch National Institute of Public Health & the Environment (RIVM) Netherlands; Dr. Francis Schaffner, Entomologist AviaGIS; Dr. H. van Berg, visiting senior Scientist and independent Research Professional, Wageningen University, Netherlands.
Minister Cornelius De Weever speech at opening Dengue training.
In our mission statement we say that we as ministry promote the general wellbeing and quality of life of our population by means of services such as health protection and health promotion.
The Vaccination program and the Vector Control Program are two examples of programs through which we achieve these goals. Our vaccination program started in the early seventies with the White & Yellow Cross, at that time covering vaccination for Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio and Smallpox. In the late seventies the program was expanded with the school vaccination program to ensure the inclusion of children in the school for their Diphtheria Tetanus and Polio vaccination.
By the end of 2000 we had gradually increased the coverage for vaccine preventable diseases by including measles, Mumps, Rubella, Hemophilus Influenzae and Hepatitis B.
In 2013 we added two important vaccines to our list:
- In April 2013 we started vaccinating against Pneumococcal disease
- In October 2013 we began vaccinating girls with the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine, protecting them against Cervical Cancer.
At this time we have more than 20.000 children registered in our database. Our Vector Control Program also started around the same time as the Vaccination Program in the early seventies in the battle against yellow fever.
The yellow fever and combatting of mosquitoes (GKMB) program was initiated and set up my Mr. Charles Maccow under the auspices of the then Hygiene Department.
Over time the concern gradually expanded to other mosquitos and the concern for other vectors such as rodents spreading disease such as Leptospirosis or the Weil's disease arose. With the change of Country status in 2010 the Assistant Vector Controllers together with this program were transferred to Collective Prevention Services.
As this moment it is suggested to change the name of the program to Vector and Rodent control to make it more representative of our scope of work. Major attention of the program is directed towards "dengue prevention and control."
The vision of the Ministry of Public Health Social Development and Labor is to be a knowledge institute which will result in being in being the recognized government authority for public health, social development, social security and labor related policy and service domains.
Being knowledge institute and being recognized as an authority means believing in and having a culture of "continuous education."
In the past year:
- We flew in experts from the Holland, the United States and the Caribbean region to give training to our staff in both these areas;
- We collaborated with Regional Expert Institutions such as PAHO, CAREC and now CARPHA to come to St. Maarten for training workshops to upgrade our programs;
- We sent out staff to Holland, the United States and the region for work visits and/or internships to improve individual skills in both programs
Today we have the opening session of again two training programs on Vaccination and Vector Control. I take this opportunity to thank the instructors that came from Holland to deliver these trainings. I hope that you will find the time to enjoy St. Maarten and find out for yourself why we are called "the Friendly Island."
I also thank the organizers BAK and PNO for their input and collaborative effort to ensure that the USONA funds were put to good use with these trainings.
To the trainees I say: Make good use of the experts that is what they are here for; ask as many questions as you have, this is the time to ask, when they are gone it is usually too late, but with modern technology I am sure that it is never too late.
With these two training we again show that we don't only "talk the talk" but also "walk the walk" and we will continue doing so through our continuous education approach.
I wish you fruitful training days and hereby declare these trainings open.