Published On: Thu, Jan 20th, 2022

Marcel Gumbs: “Friendships have broken up over vaccination-discussion”

PHILIPSBURG — Former Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs and former Lt. Governor Franklyn Richards both expressed their support for vaccination against COVID during a Facebook-broadcast of Linda Richardson’s Aging with Grace-program.

“I believe in science and I am pro vaccination,” Gumbs said, “I have tried to convince some friends and family-members to get vaccinated, but the anti-vax narrative has become stronger. One of my friends said he was not going to take the vaccine because he said he did not know what is in it. I said, do you know what is in the air we breathe? He answered: Well, God gave us air, so it is good. What about the pollution we put in the air, I said. I did not get an answer for three days and then he texted me that he was going to take the vaccine. So I convinced at least one.”

Gumbs referred to the influence of social media in convincing people about the negative part of vaccination. “This has separated friends and families. I know friendships have broken up over it, but now we see more and more people taking tests after realizing that they are sick. And then they get scared. Not to lose friends and family, I have joined a group that just won’t talk about it. I don’t talk about vaccination, I don’t talk about COVID. It is a never ending story. The energy people spend talking about it is lost energy to me.”

Richards is also supportive of vaccination. “I am all boostered up.”

Asked about the protests on the French side that resulted in border closures Richards acknowledged people’s right to protest. “But I did not believe in protesting at the border and thereby hampering our economy. Protesting and coming up for your rights are all good, but at times I think there should be a limit to that.”

To Gumbs, these protests had to do with “being French,” he said. “Just follow history. Since the French revolution in 1789, French people have been inclined to protest, and that is their right. It is regulated in the constitution. Still, I hope that sanity prevails and that everybody will keep a cool head.”

When program host Linda Richardson asked an opinion about the conflict at SZV about glucose-meters for diabetics, StMaartenNews.com publisher Terrance Rey, the third guest on the program, noted that legislation needs to be updated. “We need to inventory medication that is or is not covered by SZV. This way, patients will be able to take a decision based on their health insurance. Holland has suggested switching to generic medication to save costs, but that switch has to be codified in the law.”

When the discussion turned to the high costs of COVID-patients in intensive care, Gumbs noted that health care costs were already high before COVID. “Now SZV is getting it from both sides; they have to pay and there are fewer people working. We got used to demanding healthcare like in a developed country. Everybody wants Class A healthcare ant that is expensive.”

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The former prime minister suggested conducting a study into possible cost saving measures. “Even more important than that is a focus on prevention. We are not feeding our society properly. The first things you see at all these little supermarkets are all these unhealthy potato chips. There should be a ban on those things from being sold. They are not contributing to the prevention of sickness.”

Richards brought another issue to the table: the way St. Maarten deals with foreign doctors. “We should start looking at their profile. Foreign doctors cannot work on St. Maarten, but we ship out patients abroad to these same doctors. If we turn this around and have those doctors come here we could save a lot.”

Rey agreed, but maintained that modernizing legislation is paramount. “Refusing doctors to work here and then sending our patients abroad to be treated by the same doctors is beyond my level of sarcasm. Generating revenue is important, but so is saving costs. Every dollar we don’t spend is important. If we get the right facilities here, it would bring in patients from abroad for treatment as well. That would be a way to generate additional income.”

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Related links:
Franklyn Richards joins Progress Committee
Click here to watch this Aging with Grace episode