Speech Minister Cornelius De Weever on the occasion of the official opening of the UNFPA workshop held here at Simpsonbay Resort

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund is an organization that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity.

It does so by promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equality and equity and supporting the use of population data in the formulation of national policies and programs.

In 2009 Sint Maarten took the decision to make SRH a priority for the Ministry of Health with the adolescent as a special target group. In 2012 the actions to come to a comprehensive approach to SRH-care were intensified with the Department of Social Services in the lead.

Taking into consideration the above I must say that for Sint Maarten, and I'm convinced the same is true for you all present here today, this workshop comes at an opportune time because .... and I quote from the report:

"At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the adolescent and youth population is the largest cohort in the history of the Caribbean region, representing 26.6% of the total population. They are living in a world undergoing demographic transition, globalization, environmental changes, and a growing reliance on new communication technologies. The disproportionate impact of these issues on low-income, poorly educated, indigenous, migrant, cross-border, and ethnic minority adolescents and youth is of special concern and requires a targeted response".

Keep that in mind in you discussions and deliberations the coming 3 days.

I look forward to the report coming from this workshop with suggestions, recommendations, guidance and plans of action on the way forward for a National Policy and Program on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

I thank the UNFPA for bestowing us the honor to be the host country for your workshop and for renewing the ties with Sint Maarten.

I also take this opportunity to thank my staff for translating my policy priorities to practice, making this Regional collaboration and the UNFPA support a reality.

I wish you much success and fruitful brainstorming and dialogue and hope that at the end of the workshop you each go back to your respective countries armed with enough fuel and ammunition to take SRH in your countries to the next level.

With this I declare the UNFPA Sexual and Reproductive Health Workshop for the Dutch speaking Caribbean opened.

I thank you!

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