Dutch State Secretary of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports Paul Blokhuis (left) arrives in St. Eustatius in June 2018. At right: Acting Government Commissioner Mervyn Stegers. (File photo)
THE HAGUE--Dutch State Secretary of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports Paul Blokhuis will be in St. Eustatius and Bonaire next week to visit several health care and sports organisations. He will also attend a public health meeting in Bonaire with ministers of Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten.
An important part of Blokhuis’ visit will be the signing of the Caribbean Sports and Prevention Accord for Bonaire and St. Eustatius. The ambition of this accord is a healthier Caribbean Netherlands with children who can have a healthy start in life, active adults and elderly with more healthy years in life.
A healthy lifestyle is key, taking into consideration the motto “prevention is better than cure”. That is why the accord Blokhuis will sign includes concrete goals and actions to assist people with developing healthy eating habits and stimulating people to be more physically active, to engage in sports and to stop smoking.
The accord will provide for the expansion of the Youth on a Healthy Weight Foundation (Jongeren op Gezond Gewicht JOGG) in the Caribbean Netherlands with the aim to decrease the number of overweight children. One way to achieve this is by offering healthier meals and fruits at the schools and the day-care facilities.
There is also attention for sex education at school by promoting the use of birth control and making it easier to have testing for sexually transmitted diseases done.
Blokhuis stated in a press release of the Dutch government that he was happy with the prevention accords for Bonaire and St. Eustatius.
“Children throughout the Kingdom deserve a healthy start. We took the local situation closely into consideration: what does work and what doesn’t. We are also empowering the community so they can get actively engaged in achieving healthier islands, and to encourage that the know-how and input becomes structural,” he said.
The first stop of Blokhuis’ visit is in St. Eustatius from Monday to Thursday, May 13-18. Here, Blokhuis will open the renewed Cruyff Court, together with Government Commissioner Mike Franco and the director of the Johan Cruyff Foundation.
Also present for this opening will be Dutch former international soccer player Anouk Hoogendijk, as the ambassador of the Johan Cruyff Foundation. Hoogendijk used to play in the national female soccer team and ended her career at Ajax in 2017.
Cruyff Court is a very important part of sports in St. Eustatius. It is here that Blokhuis will sign the Caribbean Sports and Prevention Accord.
The last time Blokhuis was in St. Eustatius was June 25, 2018, when he visited several care facilities and organisations. At that time, he also visited Saba. He will not go to Saba on his trip to the Caribbean Netherlands next week.
In Bonaire, Blokhuis will attend a healthy lunch at the youth organisation Jong Bonaire and will be present at a gym class where a professional physical activity education group will be launched. This group will be providing physical activity education for residents and will assist in making this broadly available for all residents. Blokhuis will speak at a conference on prevention organised together with Bonaire’s Public Health Department.
Also, on the agenda is a meeting of Blokhuis with foster parents and foster children to hear their opinion the new plans for foster care. These plans include agreements about what is expected from foster families, what kind of support youth care offers, and the compensation foster parents receive. The plans offer clarity on the roles and expectations and will ensure better regulation of this important form of youth care.
Blokhuis will close off his visit to Bonaire with a consultation with the ministers of Public Health of the Dutch Caribbean countries on May 16. The countries anticipate arriving at agreements on cooperation in areas such as medical care assistance in crises and disasters, accessibility to medication and quality of care. Blokhuis’ previous meeting with the three ministers of Public Health took place in Curaçao in June 2018.