Our Story, By Us
< Current local time in Suriname – Paramaribo
The ministry of health of Suriname held an informational meeting on Wednesday to mark the International day of Action for Women’s Health on May 28.
Dr. Julia Terborg, sociologist and director of the Center for People’s Development, presented data of a study she has conducted for the Ministry of Health. This study looked at to what extent women and families were able to recognize alarm signals during pregnancy and how adequately they could respond to that. The study was held in 5 areas in Suriname and some interesting findings came out of it.
The majority of women mentioned that they preferred to deliver their baby in an outpatient medical practice. 87% of the respondents stated that information should be provided orally by health care staff and only a mere 6% thought folders were sufficient for that matter. 62% didn’t plan their pregnancy. 44% of the women were teenagers when they were pregnant and often their own mother had also been a teenage mother.
By Dr Cory Couillard
World Health Statistics 2013 shows considerable progress has been made in reducing child and maternal deaths, improving nutrition and reducing deaths and illness from HIV infection, tuberculosis and malaria. A dramatic improvement has been seen in the poorest countries as well as narrowing of the gap between countries with the best and worst health.
The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight goals that 194 UN Member States have agreed to make strides to achieve by the year 2015. They encompass poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women. “Intensive efforts to achieve the MDGs have clearly improved health for people all over the world,” says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. “But with less than 1000 days to go to reach the MDG deadline, it is timely to ask if these efforts have made a difference in reducing the unacceptable inequities between the richest and poorest countries.”
The most impressive improvements are found in the lowest 25 per cent health status category. A good example of the improvement is the narrowed gap in child mortality between the top and bottom countries. Death rates were reduced from 171 per 1000 live births in 1990 to 107 per 1000 live births in 2011.
WHO projects that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death in 2030. Diabetes is known to damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves. Diabetes is among the leading causes of kidney failure and 50 per cent of diabetics die of cardiovascular diseases. The number of new HIV infections narrowed from 360 to 261 people per 100 000 between 1990 and 2011. Countries with the highest rates of HIV have cut new infections by 27 per cent. “Our statistics show that overall the gaps are closing between the most-advantaged and least-advantaged countries of the world,” said Ties Boerma, Director of the Department of Health Statistics and Information Systems at WHO. “However, the situation is far from satisfactory as progress is uneven and large gaps persist between and within countries.”
PARAMARIBO–After the many days of rain that soaked Suriname, the sunshine on ‘Challenge Day’ on Wednesday May 29 was certainly welcome! It was the 14th time Suriname participated in this global event organized by numerous organizations involved in ‘Sport for All’.
Challenge Day aims at adapting a new attitude towards active living by stimulating persons to break their daily routine and perform any kind of physical activity for at least 15 minutes. This activity could be anything, ranging from climbing stairs or dancing, to stretching behind your computer or digging holes for your plants. The activity should not only exercise your body, but should also be fun! Organizations could sign up for ‘Challenge Day’ and list how many persons would participate in what kind of activity that could take place from as early as midnight till 9.00pm on May 29.
By Marvin A. Hokstam
AMSTERDAM–Derk Vermeer, Chairman of the Board of the Royal Tropical Institute KIT in Amsterdam sounded full of confidence last Monday when he said that all efforts were being made to keep the institute’s historical collections in the Tropical museum and the KIT Library accessible to the public. KIT harbors one of the most comprehensive collections that detail Dutch colonial dealings in the Caribbean, and social media has buzzed alive lately with fears that much of this colonial heritage may get lost per January 1st 2014 when budget cuts take effect. But Vermeer said there is a solution. “I trust that the collection will not get lost; everything that involves our colonial heritage will remain accessible one way or the other,” he said resolutely.
His response may console the thousands of people who have raised their voices in recent months in fear that much of their history on display at the stately building at Mauritskade in Amsterdam would disappear. KIT’s fate has been in the balance since 2011, when Government announced that the institute would have to make do with 20 million euros less in subsidies; with half of their budget gone, , the library will be closed and museum faces in any case a reduction with 23 of the 52 jobs, 35 % of the staff. KIT’s Research and Intercultural Professionals Departments are among the lucky ones to escape unscathed.
“Talk about erasure,” St. Maartener Deborah Jack reacted last weekend when she heard the news. She was one of many who are expressing shock with what some call Dutch disinterest in its colonial history. “Dutch politicians and even a lot of Dutch people wouldn’t mind (the KIT collections disappearing), as they don’t feel that part of their history is important and/or feel it’s an embarrassment they want nothing to do with,” worldly Dutchwoman Sasha Dees commented.
The objections are also taking official form. Close to 10,000 people from all over the world have so far signed a petition that urges the Rutte Kabinet and the Second Chamber to grant structural financing and keep the museum open. The petition called the budget-cuts a “frontal attack on the flagship store of ethnology museums”. Urging preservation of the expertise and the collection at the Tropics Museum for future generations, it warned that “when the prestigious library and museum are closed, knowledge will be destroyed that will never be restored.” The petition will be presented to Government and Parliament on June 17th.
PARAMARIBO, Suriname–The heavy rains that have pounded Suriname over the past two weeks have subsided, but it will likely be a while before the country gets over the carnage. “It’s a sunny day today, but the water hasn’t retreated yet,” said Patrick Kensenhuis, a Parliamentarian from District Para on Thursday. He said that in his district farmers have lost thousands in crops and cattle, and that this applies to other parts of the country as well. Kensenhuis feared that the stagnant water in the residential areas could lead to diseases.
The obstinate rains have caused trouble in several parts of the country. The Meteorological Office has related the heavy downpours to disturbances in the inter tropical convergent zone around the equator, which unleashed between 300 and 400 millimeters in rainfall per square kilometer since May 1st; unusual since Suriname generally gets 2,500 to 3,000 millimeters of rainfall per year. The last time similar atmospheric disturbances caused such bad weather was in June 2006, when rains took rivers in the hinterland beyond their banks; more than 450 millimeters of rain fell then. Some 100 villages were inundated and hundreds of people were relocated. Three lives were lost then. So far this year there have been no reports of casualties.
Meteorologist Truus Warsodikromo said that the hinterland was hit the hardest because the heavy rains fell there first before the coastal areas around Paramaribo experienced the effects of the disturbances.
PARAMARIBO–With just over a month to go before Suriname (and other former Dutch colonies) marks the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery, an Afro-Surinamese foundation has refueled the calls for an apology from the Netherlands. Rudi Bottse, chairman of the Broki (Bridge) Collective said that if the Dutch don’t apologize in 2013, he will lodge a complaint at international organizations against the former colonizer.
“If the Dutch don’t apologize this year, I will seek support from other countries with a slavery past to bring this matter to the attention of the European Union and the Unit Nations and force the Netherlands to formally apologize,” Bottse said.
The history of Slavery in the former Dutch colonies is about as old as Dutch colonial history. Over more than three centuries a lively slave trade existed, during which the Dutch shipped an estimated one million Africans from their continent to work on plantations in “the new world”. Slavery was officially abolished on July 1st 1863, but it has always remained a sour point that the Netherlands didn’t actually free the slaves out of humanity and never offered a formal apology to their descendants.
While the USA in 2008 passed a formal resolution apologizing for slavery and segregation and a London Mayor in 2007 apologized for that part of Britain’s history that is tainted by the slave trade, the Dutch have so far stopped short of saying they regret slavery took place.
PARAMARIBO–Suriname’s Government has announced that it will be investing in solar energy to bring electricity to its remote communities. Gunzi, a Maroon village in the upper Suriname River region will serve as test subject for the project that was announced at the Cabinet of the President. Alternative energy company WTEC from New Jersey (USA) was contracted to execute the project, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources, national electricity company EBS and the Anton de Kom University of Suriname.
More than three quarters of Suriname’s landmass are blanketed by thick rainforest; most of the country’s inhabitants live in the capital Paramaribo. Many villages in the sparsely populated hinterland have thus not been hooked up to the EBS grid and make do with noisy, moody diesel powered generators that are only switched on at night. Natural Resources Minister Stanley Betterson underscored that bringing electricity to the remote villages will benefit education, industry and development of these areas.
John Goedschalk, the Cabinet’s Coordinator Environment hinted that as “improving the supply of energy supply for the people is one of this Government’s priority areas,” Government had looked at hydro energy as an alternative. “Solar energy is also an option,” he said.
Last month Government scrapped a proposal to execute a hydro energy project in the hinterland. The TapaJai project would call for submerging 240 kilometers of land along the upper Suriname River and installing a new series of turbines which would ultimately generate 275 megawatts of power. Residents of the surrounding Maroon villages had objected from when the project was suggested.
On Tuesday May 28th Readytex Art Gallery and visual artist Sri Irodikromo welcome guests at the opening of her second solo exhibition named Srie, at De Hal.
Sri Irodikromo, an artist well known for her large batik pieces and mixed media paintings in which she often incorporates Surinamese women in traditional clothing as well as symbols from the various Surinamese cultures, treats her public to a surprising new collection. In she once again focuses mostly on women, but not in the same way as before. She chooses to concentrate on the faces of the women. “In my previous works I also paid attention to the faces of the women I painted, but lately I’ve had the urge to work with only the faces.” For this exhibition she gives in to that urge. On large canvases she paints, predominantly in profile, beautiful faces of Surinamese women, their heads adorned with elaborate headscarves or coverings.
By Dr Cory Couillard
Nearly 6 million people die every year via cancer, heart disease, lung disease and other chronic, long-term health conditions associated with smoking. Over the course of the 21st century, tobacco use could kill up to a billion people unless urgent action is taken.
“Tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death. The global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are people exposed to second-hand smoke. Unless we act, it will kill up to 8 million people by 2030, of which more than 80 per cent will live in low- and middle-income countries,” says the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Upper middle to high-income countries are seeing drops in tobacco consumption but lower-income countries are increasing out of control. These countries are at greatest risk due to lack of education, poor legislative oversight and greed by tobacco companies.
31 May marks World No Tobacco Day. The 2013 theme is “ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship”. Only 6 per cent of the world’s population were protected from exposure to the tobacco industry’s advertising, promotion and sponsorship according to the WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic.
PARAMARIBO—A project that will look into creating job and training opportunities for its youth and support the modernization of the juvenile justice system was kicked off on Thursday . The “Youth Development and Juvenile Justice in Suriname” project is a three-year initiative funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Charged with implementation is the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), the non-profit foundation of the Organization of American States (OAS) that implements integral socio-economic development programs for disadvantaged people and provides aid victims of natural disasters and humanitarian crises. In 2012, the foundation helped more than 10 million people in 29 countries. . Headquartered in Washington DC, PADF has field offices in Haiti, Colombia and Suriname, and projects throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The project is facilitated by the Organization of American States (OAS).
A press release from the US embassy said that through the project, PADF will focus on providing youth access to employment and vocational education. Local organizations will be able to apply for grants for a wide variety of preventive and support services targeting youth. The project will also support the modernization of the country’s juvenile justice system so it continues to be more responsive to the rehabilitative needs of youth offenders, the release said. It will be executed in partnership with Government, local NGOs, the business community and other donor organizations to address the growing problems of at-risk youth.