St. Eustatius

Blokhuis reserves 1.5 million yearly for a healthier Caribbean Netherlands

Dutch footballer Anouk Hoogendijk and Cruyff Foundation Director, Niels Meijer, look on as State Secretary Blokhuis and Deputy Government Commissioner sign the agreement.
Photo credit: Cruyff Foundation

Oranjestad- State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport, Paul Blokhuis,  has signed a Caribbean Netherlands Sport and Prevention Agreement on St. Eustatius on Tuesday May 14th.

The purpose of this agreement is a healthier Caribbean Netherlands, with more attention on prevention and the importance of a healthy lifestyle. The agreement covers five themes: obesity, alcohol abuse, smoking and drug use, sport and exercise, sexual health, and better organizational structure in sport and prevention. Later this week Blokhuis will also sign an agreement with the Public Entity of Bonaire. For the Caribbean Sport and Prevention Agreement each year, 1.5 million euro is available.

For Saba, the agreements on prevention and sports, form part of the broad Saba package deal. This deal is arranged through the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, also on behalf of the other ministries.

Importance of local context

“Everywhere in the Kingdom, we want to make it easier for people to make  healthy choices. But, it is important that we look at local conditions. What is needed here. So is smoking here less of an issue, but being overweight all the more. Half of Caribbean Netherlanders exercises insufficient. Among children, this problem is even greater. This has everything to do with the availability and accessibility of facilities on the Islands. And the solution lies sometimes in very small things, like good lighting on a sports court so everyone can also sport in the evening. But also, for example, a canopy over the Cruyff Court from the sun. This agreement really delivers what works here and what is possible”, said Blokhuis.

Focus on youth

Also in the agreement for the Caribbean there is great attention for the youth. With curricula in high schools about alcohol, tobacco and drugs, offer of healthy meals in schools and non-free sports associations will also give children in the Caribbean Netherlands a healthy start. In doing so, we will make use of initiatives where we have a lot of success such as JOGG in The Netherlands and the Healthy School. Just like in Netherlands, the fee for a lifestyle coach and the quit smoking care, will be included in the basic package.

Sexual health

Other than the National Prevention Agreement, the Caribbean Sport and Prevention agreement focusses also on sexual health. The number of abortions in the Caribbean Netherlands is very high and sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea are unfortunately common. The aim of the agreement is therefore a decrease in the number of abortions and increase the use of contraceptives. The focus will be on better, professional sex education in schools, support for women in unintended pregnancies and the free provision of condoms.

A mini sport day was held at the Fredrick Cranston Ball Field on the occasion of the visit of the State Secretary by the Directorate of Society and Welfare, supported by the Statia Sport Facility Foundation, primary and secondary schools and various coaches. Featured sports and activities included  swimming, softball, track and field, volleyball, football and fitness. Blokhuis along with representatives of the Cruyff Foundation, Cruyff Ambassadors got to see firsthand the level of sports and exercise on St. Eustatius.

Deputy Government Commissioner said he hoped that the residents of Statia would make good use of the opportunity. “Sport and exercise and eating healthy are very important to remain healthy at a later age in life. Within short there will be a completely refurbished  and expanded sport facility”, according to Stegers.

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