17 May 2017
PHILIPSBURG–Civil servants from across ministries were joined by representatives of various health and environment-related agencies for a recent workshop on environmental health, organised by the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA.
A report will now be compiled by participants with actionable short-term steps to tackle some of the pressing environment and health issues with the input of stakeholders. The report will make multi-ministerial recommendations on the protection of the health of the community by structurally tackling environmental health.
The draft report will be shared with the stakeholders for comment once the report from Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and CPS has been finalised. The final version will be presented to the Council of Ministers for discussion and adoption.
“Naturally, the emphasis will be on prevention,” said Public Health Minister Emil Lee of the pending report.
During the workshops, there were several discussions about the role of VSA and other ministries. Clearly, the Ministry of VSA has a role in setting the standards, parameters and indicators by law and policy. Also, the subject of solid and liquid waste management on St. Maarten was addressed and options and opportunities discussed for solutions to the challenges through a Reduce Reuse Recycle strategy.
The first workshop was an internal one for the Public Health Ministry and included an in-depth discussion on the roles and responsibilities of the Health Sector when it comes to the environment.
For the second workshop, the Ministry invited stakeholders to discuss their role and responsibilities in environmental matters and to get feedback and input on the challenges and solutions.
The workshop comprised the concept of Environmental Health within the scope of sustainable development and social determinants of health disease burden. The second one was on wastewater and solid waste management strategy.
The objective of the workshop was to allow the Ministry of Public Health to address the health aspects related to the environment in a timely manner along with ministerial partners and other key stakeholders.
The workshop was conducted by PAHO Office of Caribbean Programme Coordination representative Ton Vlugman. He is a senior advisor on water, sanitation and environmental health.
Dr. Virginia Asin said the Ministry was delighted with the participation of representatives from the Ministries of Public Health, Environment and Tourism and Economic Affairs, Port St. Maarten, Fire Department, Department of Communication, St. Maarten Laboratory Services, Princess Juliana International Airport, the hospitality sector, Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) Foundation, Island Global Yachting Marinas, Nature Foundation, and the Civil Aviation and Shipping Authority.
Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten