20 MARCH 2017
PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten AIDS Foundation Youth Wing has been making the rounds to policy makers and influencers to get traction for their recommendations especially in the area of sexual reproductive health on behalf of the young people of St. Maarten, St. Martin and Anguilla, the island on which the consultation was held.
Head of the Dutch Representation office in St. Maarten Chris Johnson recently received the finding of the 2016 Youth Consultation, organised by the St. Maarten AIDS Foundation Youth Wing in Anguilla by Anguilla Community Action Network (ACAN) in October last year.
The group along with AIDS Foundation Executive Director Rajesh Chintaman have already met with Parliament with a request for legislation to be revised to better serve the young people of the country and the community in general. They have also put forward their case to the Council of Ministers.
Their presentation to Johnson stemmed from their goal of sharing their findings and seeking ways to build bridge on issues within the Dutch Kingdom.
One major point from the consultation was the financial hurdles people living with HIV/AIDS in St. Maarten have to leap over due to the high cost of patent medicines. As part of the Dutch Kingdom, St. Maarten in many instances cannot access cheaper, but yet still potent generic medications. This, among other concerns, was shared with Johnson.
Impressed by the dedication of the group and their comprehensive document, Johnson shared the finding with the Dutch Ministry of Public Health. He presented the finding to Deputy Secretary-General of the Dutch Ministry of Health Gea van Craaikamp on a recent visit to the Netherlands.
Johnson said of the Youth Wing: “I have been around many young people throughout my years in public service who were able to speak out, which is always impressive, but to be around young people who are able to speak out on issues that are often deemed taboo by society, well that was very special.”
He added, “It also encouraged me in the field of Regional Cooperation, which is a very important and special subject for me to hear that they have been working with both sides of the island and Anguilla, and that they look forward to working with Saba and Statia was inspiring. I think there are a lot of things we as adults and as representatives of governmental institutions could learn from these young folks.”
The issues – teenage pregnancy, regulating termination of pregnancy , gender identity, parental involvement, and the effects of HIV/AIDS have to be addressed. “In this globalized and interconnected world our young people are confronted with these issues all the time. Adults and institutions need to be more proactive and in touch with the realities of modern society in my opinion,” Johnson said.
Chintaman thanked Johnson for his time and input with the Youth Wing. “When influencers such as Mr. Johnson take time out to listen and interact with our youngsters, a major impact is made on their lives and they are aware that their efforts are not in vain. We look forward to the next youth consultation with the firm hope that we can present a concrete application of one or more recommendations from 2016,” Chintaman said.
Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten