EINDHOVEN–Medical equipment and medication for the treatment of COVID-19 patients in the Windward Islands left for St. Maarten early Sunday morning on board of a Defence aircraft.
A C-17 aircraft, which many in St. Maarten will remember from the multiple transports of emergency aid after the devasting Hurricane Irma hit the country in September 2017, left the military airbase Eindhoven in the early hours of Sunday. The aircraft will arrive in St. Maarten this afternoon.
The C-17 aircraft is part of the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC), an international cooperation structure in which 12 countries participate. The countries share three C-17 aircraft which are stationed in Hungary. The SAC C-17 cooperation, meant for strategic air transport within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union (EU), contributes to an efficient deployment of equipment. The Netherlands has bought 500 flying hours in this pact and flies the aircraft with its own crew.
Loaded onto the large four-engine transport aircraft were pallets with medical equipment, protection material and medication. Included in the transport is a mobile hospital, a so-called Hospitainer, with six intensive care units. Equipment is also on board to set up an additional six IC units at the St. Maarten Medical Center.
The Netherlands is sending 42 IC units to the Dutch Caribbean, of which 12 for St. Maarten. Another 12 are going to Aruba and Curaçao and six will be sent to Bonaire. Because medical capacity is needed the most in St. Maarten, according to the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM, the additional IC units are first sent there first. St. Maarten’s hospital also serves patients from St. Eustatius and Saba, and therefore has an extra responsibility.
State Secretary of Public health, Well-being and Sports Paul Blokhuis and his VWS Ministry were instrumental in coordinating the securing of medical equipment for the islands and the transport to St. Maarten.
“This transport to St. Maarten is a concrete step in the further upscaling of medical care for all islands. There has been continuous consultation with all stakeholders in the Netherlands and the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. Together we work very hard to curb the spreading of the coronavirus as much as possible and to take care of the COVID-19 patients as good as we can,” stated Blokhuis in a Dutch government press release.
Extra medical personnel are needed for the strengthening of the medical capacity as well. This too is being taken care of by the Netherlands. An agreement is in the making with an international company that dispatches medical personnel. The first team of medical specialists and nursing personnel is expected to arrive in St. Maarten in the coming week.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/defence-transports-medical-equipment-to-st-maarten