Via The Daily Herald: SZV joins government in fight against the chikungunya virus. Excerpt:
Social and Health Insurance (SZV) has joined the effort to stem the spread of the chikungunya virus by launching a public awareness campaign on Thursday.
The campaign will include the airing of a number of Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that will be broadcast in collaboration with most radio stations. The ads will start in English and will also be available in Spanish and French at a later date to reach the non-English speaking population.
Another step in the campaign is the sending of mass anti-chikungunya SMS messages to phone users with the assistance of UTS Chippie and TelCell. TelCell is still to confirm its participation. The first message was sent out by Health Minister Cornelius de Weever and SZV Director Reginald Willemsberg during a press conference on Thursday. The first SMS was in English but it will also be sent in other languages in the future.
Willemsberg said the PSAs will run for an initial period of one month following which it will be evaluated. Ads will also be prepared for the print media. He said if the chikungunya virus is left "unconstrained," it will not only have an impact on the national health of St. Maarten/St. Martin, but will also start affecting the economy due to decreased productivity due to increased sick leave among the working population. Another negative effect will be a possible decline in arrivals due to the travel advisories against travel to the country.
He said although the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour and other government ministries have taken measures in the fight against chikungunya and spreading awareness of the virus and its prevention, SZV is of the opinion that the population is not taking this threat seriously enough.
"For this reason I am proud to announce that we are joining government in this fight by launching an important campaign to enhance this awareness and aid in the prevention of this potentially life threatening disease. The SZV is doing this not only as a means of good corporate citizenship or as part of our task as the health insurer for the majority of the population, but because we believe that is an event that everyone must be involved in," he said.