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CARE-SAFE team secures funding for pandemic preparedness research at SMMC

CARE-SAFE team secures funding for pandemic preparedness research at SMMC

A group of medical specialists of the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) and their partners recently received a ZonMw pandemic preparedness grant for their ongoing work in respiratory tract infection surveillance. ZonMw is a Dutch body that designs programs on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Health Welfare and Sports (VWS) and the Dutch Research Council (NWO). The grant funds a comprehensive investigation into the dynamics of respiratory infections and immunological responses to viral infections in the Dutch Caribbean.

The CARE-SAFE team consists of Dr. Lilly Verhagen, SMMC Pediatrician and Infectious Disease and Immunology Subspecialists at Radboud University Medical Center (UMC) in Nijmegen, Dr. Martijn Tilanus, SMMC Pediatrician, Dr. Sonja van Roeden, SMMC Internist-Infectiologist, Dr. Radjinkoemar Steingrover, SMMC Medical Microbiologist, Dr. Angelino Tromp, Medical Laboratory Services (MLS) Molecular Microbiologist and Drs. Fleur Koene, MLS Medical Microbiologist.

This grant allows the team to further the research they presented in June 2023 at the Dutch Caribbean Research Week which focused on respiratory tract infection epidemiology in children on the island of St. Maarten. The data from the first research project indicated that SMMC is notably burdened by respiratory tract infections and that island transmission dynamics are different, indicating that preventative measures, such as vaccination strategies, may need to be adapted. This research addresses the necessary adaptation of preventative measures by conducting the first systematic exploration of viral epidemiology in the Dutch Caribbean to be able to provide valuable data for the optimization of the timing of these measures.

The research parameters have also been expanded to include data from adults in the study to help enhance preparedness for existing pathogens and to lay a foundation for addressing potential pandemics as well.

SMMC congratulates the team on their achievement and continues to encourage and support clinical research on St. Maarten and in the Dutch Caribbean to improve the quality of care, ensuring that the islands and their inhabitants receive high-quality healthcare, close to home.

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