Browsing Tag


Health & Wellness, Opinon and Research, The Pulse

Promising results for Curacao + Caribbean in prevention of cervical cancer. (Dr. Desiree Hooi | Interview part II)

March 5, 2015
Dr Desi Hooi in the Lab - HPV research


Fundashon Prevenshon

Dr. Desiree Hooi has been leading a significant research project on the prevalence and prevention of the spread of HPV Human Papillomavirus with Fundashon Prevenshon in Willemstad, Curaçao.

We are back with  Part 2  of  a previous interview with Dr. Hooi  you can read PART 1  here.



CF: What is HPV?
Dr. Hooi: 

•  HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus and is a double   stranded DNA virus.

•  HPV is the number one most common STD.

•  80 to 84% of the population was once in contact with this virus.

Fortunately the body takes care to eliminate the virus and it may take 1 to 2 years for the immune system to get rid of the virus. HPV knows approximately 160 genotypes from which can be subdivided in cutaneous and mucosa. This virus is known for in some occasions depending which genotype causing the so-called genital and some cutaneous (skin) warts.  HPV is divided in low risk (lr HPV) and high risk (hr HPV).  The last subdivision is important because the hr HPV is known to cause cancer and is an oncovirus.  HPV 16 & 18 are the most prevalent in causing Cervical Cancer.

The HPV genotypes known for causing cancer do not give any symptoms.

CF: So is HPV a Public Health issue?
Dr. Hooi: Indeed; HPV is considered a Public Health issue due to findings of cancer caused by a very
contagious sexual transmitted virus in the cervix (feminine organ) and also in other tissues in women and men e.g. vulva, vagina, anus, oral cavity and throat in women.  There are reports of HPV in men with cancer of the penis, anus, oral and throat cavity.



HPV prevention dr. Desi Hooi in Lab


CF: Is this a preventable cancer?
Dr. Hooi: Yes. Besides the fact that young children can be vaccinated this cancer develops slowly.  One must become infected with HPV to develop cervical cancer.

This virus causes changes in the human DNA structure and provokes a pre-cancer lesion which most of the time will take 10-15 years to turn into cancer. During this period, the pre-cancer lesion can be detected and treated on time if you have a screening (Pap smear) done regularly.

CF:Why do you think this is important in the Caribbean?
Dr. Hooi: 

The cervical cancer mortality rate is high in the Caribbean region and it is the 2nd place most prevalent cancer among women between ages 15 to 44.

It is noticed that in developed countries screening programs have reduced the incidence of cancer and mortality rate. More data is needed to analyze the situation in the Caribbean.  Guidelines must be adapted on the basis of the results within the culture and ethnicity of the medical community in the specific Caribbean area.

The results of the studies can be applied to other islands where the necessary adjustments are aimed in specific medical standards and cultures.

CF: What is your estimated result of this HPV study?
I estimate a high % positivity in the upcoming 1000 tests given. The results of the study held among 253 women on Curaçao in 2013 had a high prevalence (20.2%) in the specific age group 45-75 years.
The prevalence by country is:

[visualizer id=”7670″]

Europe is 6%,
The United States 13%,
Latin America 18%
Africa 23%.

We expect a higher prevalence from the upcoming 1000 samples since the age group <40 years will be representative in this survey.  Among this age group of individuals less than 40 years, HPV prevalence is the highest according to literature. Regarding our study on paraffin embedded tissue; we can mention that the HPV 16+18 was not that prevalent compared with the rest of the world.

This may have important significance for the introduction of vaccine considering the fact that other HPV genotypes are playing a role in causing cancer in our population.  What type of role still needs to be discussed.

A study performed among sex workers in our community revealed no significant differences between this group and the results from the pilot in volunteered participants. We have to wait for results of the population in this specific age group <40 years that represented the sex workers in order to compare and do analysis on these findings. We can preliminarily say that it will not make an important difference since the virus is very contagious and promiscuity or multiple sex partners does not only happen amongst sex workers.

The oral cavity study it is still ongoing with results pending this year.  We think that the results will not differ from the rest of the world.  Regarding the women with hysterectomies with intact cervix I think there might be a large number with no cervical cancer screening afterwards because they are:

1. Not aware of the relevance of having the cervix intact and the need to perform a Pap-smear.
2. This group will be considered the non-responders to well established cervical cancer screening programs in some countries.

This fact maybe underestimated.

Chat Bout It, The Pulse, World

Saint Racism?

December 3, 2014



Let’s get right down to it shall we?


We have seen a growing movement against the appearance of Zwarte Piet. Why? Because many believe that the image of zwarte piet is hurtful as it continues negative racial stereotypes by lightheartedly reinforcing prejudice. It allows for social behaviors that are downright hurtful and stands in the way of critical thinking.

On the other hand we have also come across people, articles and comments saying that because the intent isn’t to discriminate, the tradition is therefore not racist. It is also said that the growing opposition could be attributed to cultural insensitivity (ironic considering zwarte piets’ visage), and “outsiders” misunderstanding the celebration.

Zwarte Piet according to defenders could not be racist as his coloring is attributed to soot, and his buffoonish behavior is a result from a past of being a disobedient, hardworking, undereducated child. Yes I mean kidnapped, forced into labor and neglected. As showers and education are apparently not offered in Sinterklaas’s care? Does this sound familiar to you?


Yeeeah moving on.

Again the question remains, is it racist?

And in my opinion what people secretly want to know, and basically defend (which brings us to cognitive dissonance; this will be explored in article two) – is if it makes them racist by association.

Defenders of the tradition are also quick to point out some historical tidbit or another in order to reaffirm/confirm explain and justify the tradition. 

But before we take the historical plunge into the life and times of St Nick (ground zero of many of our winter traditions) and Zwarte Piet. Before we explore the most current opinions. I say we understand what is at the foundation of the uproar. Racism. And in order to truly understand what kind of discussion we are walking into, we must explore it.


What is race?

Race is a social concept used to categorize humans into large and distinct populations or groups by anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious, and/or social affiliation. Let’s pretend we have no idea it’s basically a made up concept and go on to the next step.



What is racism?

A simple google search says that it is;

“…the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”
“Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”



Alright but what does acting racist look like ?

I went back to google and pulled this little summary:


  • The use of offensive terms and language.

  • Making prejudiced statements about other races and members of other races.

  • Believing that people of other races are incapable as working as well/being as smart/becoming as successful as someone of your own race.

  • Believing that you are better than someone of another race.

  • Any discrimination based solely on someone’s race.




We see the words prejudice and discrimination repeated, they must be important. Let’s take a closer look.

What the hey, let’s try Bing this time, where I found the and it states that
Prejudice is an unfair, intolerant, or unfavorable attitude toward a group of people. Prejudicial beliefs are virtually negative stereotypes. Social scientists view prejudice as the possession of negative attitudes targeted against members of a particular religious, racial, ethnic, social, and/or political group. These attitudes give rise to negative or unfavorable evaluations of individuals seen as belonging to that group. The perception that one belongs to a certain group is the precipitating factor in prejudicial feelings—not the actual attributes or behaviors of the person being judged. Like attitudes in general, prejudice has three components: beliefs, feelings, and “behavioral tendencies.”

Check this out though, it had an interesting tidbit on colonialism but the implications of that, much like cognitive dissonance will be discussed in the next article. Right now we are just laying down the groundwork.

Colonialism was based, in part, on a lack of tolerance of cultures different than that of the mother country and the development of stereotypes regarding people living in such different cultures”

And discrimination? “The practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other groups of people.” Thanks Merriam-Webster.The debate really is whether the appearance of Zwarte Piet as is, embodies, engenders or continues racism and any of its affiliated issues.


Ladies and gentleman we have explored the “what” of the situation, join me next time for the “who” and “how”. And finally in our third installment, we will explore the “when” and finally the “why” Zwarte Piet, as is, is racist or not.

Art & Culture, Feacha, Technology, The Pulse

The URBAN CHASE game preview is here!

December 1, 2014

First of it’s kind in the Caribbean! Play and win prizes as you discover the streets of Curaçao.

The Urban Chase game was created by a team of 4 people comprised of:

Margin Nahr: Game Development,
Yasser Casseres : Business Development,
AREA 51’s  Xavier Navarro  (Dopie): Marketing Management
& Ryan Navarro(QD): as its Creative Director.

The game will be available to the public on Dec 20th  in what is self-described ‘apple style’ product release event. This is where they will reveal their new app and show entire Curaçao how to play and even better WIN prizes just for playing!

It is going to be big y’all.

I KNOW some of you think this will be your new job. Hahahah!

Game play: The game is comparable to subway surfer and Temple run where you take your player through amazingly illustrated scenes from the island of Curacao.  They didn’t leave anything out either! Iguana man is in there, Andrelton Simons and every Curacaoan pigeon on Brion Plein made the cut!

I already see three reason this concept may win!
1. This truly looks like a fun game. 2.  It will be free and you will be able pick up and play it on your phone any time by picking up coins and points, no problem. 3. Because Urban Chase has you on a mission; High scorers have the opportunity to WIN great prizes from all the brand partners.

We are impressed by the hard work and dedication put in to bringing not only this game but a fresh new marketing concept to the island. We do not have all the details on how the prizes will be distributed. But I commend the partners, and sponsors who have decided to invest in this young and dynamic group for their vision. This game is beyond Urban Chase. It’s about thinking large and breaking out of small island thinking and positioning ourselves along side our peers across the globe.


Follow urban chase on facebook for updates  ‪#‎UrbanChase‬





Community Service, Health & Wellness, Lifestyle, The Pulse

Interview with Dr Desiree Hooi MD, Research Physician ( HPV)| Fundashon Prevenshon | Part 1

November 27, 2014


Ever since I was little I had two loves, music and medicine. I possessed a precocious curiosity about the “science” of life in general. I always knew that one day I was going to become a Medical Doctor and I was well aware that there would be a long road ahead.

I studied medicine with a goal to understand the behaviors and mechanisms behind human bodily functions and to find (the solution or the cure) for specific diseases.

I believe that the urge for finding these answers has brought me to where I am today; studying and working as a medical professional and researcher. However, I have since learned that studying medicine was not enough to answer all the questions about this thing we call life!




Can you tell us about how you started working for Fundashon Prevenshon?

Since my return from Costa Rica I  have worked as a general practitioner and as physician assistant at the Neurology ward in the General Hospital.

In November 2012 a former colleague, the actual director of Fundashon Prevenshon Ms. L. Elstak who always I have considered a role model, brought me in contact with professor Pinedo. I was offered a job as a research physician on the HPV and Cervical cancer program. At that moment I thought that I could keep my interest in science. I consider this an opportunity to do medical research on Curaçao with the well-respected global authority in medicine; emeritus Professor Bob Pinedo.

Of course I saw the opportunity to work on uniform guidelines, developed and adapted to our specific community. From my experiences I had so far, I want to contribute, by means of evidence-based research projects to set these guidelines and safeguards.



What is Fundashon Prevenshon?

Fundashon Prevenshon is a private foundation that was founded by Emeritus Professor H.M.(Bob) Pinedo and Mr. L. (Paps) Capriles with the objective of supporting and administering a center for the prevention of disease in Curaçao. As of 28th of October 2009, the foundation has been listed at the Ministry of Health of Curaçao and is situated at the Klipstraat 11 in Otrobanda.

What is HPV?

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexual transmitted disease and it’s a well-established cause of cervical cancer. Although cervical cancer is the most common cancer caused by the HPV virus, studies have shown that the virus can also cause cancer in areas such as anus, vagina, vulva, penis, and oropharynx. It represents an additional 0·7% of all cancer sites in men and women, meaning that HPV is estimated to be responsible for 5·2% of all cancers worldwide.


What research projects are you currently working on?

I am  the person responsible for writing the protocol, organizing the population screening associated with scientific research about HPV and cervical cancer. I will perform the scientific research by collecting 1000 Pap smears and HPV samples.  All the participants of the scientific research will receive a self-test. It will be a total of approximately 2000 HPV samples that I will be analyzing in the lab.  Last year we already did a pilot trial consisting of 253 women in order to have preliminary results and analyze the work and study the logistics.

Currently, I am working on data analysis of a study we just have finished in The Netherlands consisting out of HPV genotype on paraffin embedded cancer and pre-cancer material in Curaçao women from 2003 to 2013. This study was done to specify which HPV genotype is causing cancer in our population  which is relevant issue to address in order to introduce the HPV vaccination.

“…many women are not aware of having their cervix intact after having the uterus removed.”

There is also another ongoing analysis happening in tandem with this research to help pin-point the number of women who have had hysterectomies (uterus extirpation) with intact cervix.  An interestnig fact we came to find during the first trial was that many women are not aware of having their cervix intact after having the uterus removed. This must be considered a risk for developing cervical cancer, espescially if these women still have their cervix and do not routinely have a Pap smear done. We will analyze this population in order to tackle the situation of awareness and to incorporate this group in the population-screening program.

We will work with the organization to start  randomized research in 1000 women in the coming months. This study will be realized under the supervision of Professors at VU mc Vrije University of Amsterdam and DDL Diagnostic Center at Rijswijk in the Netherlands. A local Gynecologist and Professor Pinedo are involved to support the research and for advice.

Besides this being an important opportunity for the population of Curaçao, I will also obtain my doctorate in science and medicine with the completion of this PhD study.

So, is HPV currently a public health issue in the Caribbean?

Caribbean data reveals that cervical cancer is ranking second place in most common cancer among women in the Caribbean. HPV is the established cause of this type of cancer. There is currently not enough data reported regarding the HPV virus and its effects in the Caribbean; not all islands have implemented a cervical cancer-screening program within their communities. Furthermore, even with the introduction of the HPV vaccine most Caribbean islands currently do not have a government regulated vaccination program.



“…Caribbean data reveals that cervical cancer is ranking second place in most common cancer among women in the Caribbean. “

However, there have been findings of cancers caused by this very contagious sexual transmitted virus in the cervix (feminine organ) and also in other tissues in both man and women e.g. vulva, vagina, anus, oral cavity and throat in women. There are reports of HPV being found in men with cancer of the penis, anus, oral and throat cavity.

That is why we are working diligently to educate and stimulate the population to participate in screening programs and be aware that this is not only a female but also a male public health issue.


How is this study geared towards the Curaçao community and how are test subjects picked out?

Subjects are selected according to the needs and the current situation in the population. Prior to the scientific study, a literature analysis will be done. The reason is to analyze existing publications on this subject and to determine the importance of the results for this population. This HPV study on Curaçao will start from scratch. There is little data available in the Caribbean. Some of the results are well-known from Jamaica and Cuba but considering the fact that the mortality rate for cervical cancer is high in the Caribbean, more studies are requested in order to address this form of cancer in the right manner.


CF: Wow! That is a lot to digest on a daily basis! Can you tell us a little more about yourself and how you spend any free time you have left? 


I am a dreamer and a believer. I am  also very ambitious and always think about the bigger picture. If you really want something it depends on you and only you to achieve that goal.


The most important thing is to never give up. Everything is possible when you dream & when you believe. I have a saying since my childhood: “This world is big enough for all my dreams, and small enough for me to achieve them” (quote by me). Prior to my medical study, I graduated as a Registered Nurse. At age 16 I started to work as intern aspirant nurse at the St. Elisabeth Hospital in Curaçao.

I find it incredibly inspiring to be part of this scientific study. I work hard to stay on the right track to achieve this goal and fully contribute to my community.  This survey requires a lot of time for reading other studies and analyzing the results. Working in the lab is a challenge of endurance and concentration. The calculations and the discussion on the results with my supervisors contribute each day to get a better understanding of the behavior of the HPV virus genotypes on the island.  Furthermore, providing information to patients and other interested parties is inherent in my profession and gives me great satisfaction.

My balance in this scientific research is music and I play the ‘Cuatro’ instrument. I love music and I compose my own songs. I have several compositions and a c.d. to be published with 9 self composed songs. I am a member of a 25 person choir. Making music together and studying the details of the different voices and the various musical instruments is one of my hobbies. I’m part of the folkloric music group “Tipiko Pasabon”. I play Cuatro in harp & Cuatro duets with Marco Dorothea. I also play with my beloved uncle Rudy Plaate on special occasions.  Benito (Broertje) Dolorita, Alberto (Betto) Betrian, Eduardo Pereira, Norman Moron, Lindo Casper, Hershel Rosario, are some more local musicians I used to perform with.

I can now travel less while I complete this study, but I cannot wait for the day I can act and perform in theaters and musicals again.
Also, when I do have some free evening hours I like to try and stop the clock by enjoying a self made dish with family and friends.
My cooking skills come from my curiosity for other cultures and I find experimenting with existing recipes helps bring the travel back to me.

Art & Culture, Interviews, Lifestyle, Music, The Pulse

Izaline Calister Does Her Powerful Voice Still Ring True? 2007 Interview

June 18, 2014

“…Support means providing information, workshops and lectures so that everyone may have access to all the tools and opportunities I used to reach my goal. This is a very hands-on type of support. I believe it is also important to have an educational system kids can turn to, to develop their talents. This is the only way to keep local music alive, interesting and developing. It needs to grow, develop and be injected with new blood and ideas.”

Izaline Francisca Juanita Calister
Date of Birth9th of March but the year is a big big secret
Place of Birth: The beautiful sunny island of Curacao

Your connection to the Caribbean: I was born there and lived there most of my life, the most important formative part of my live there. I love the vibe, the sounds, the colours, the music, the people……need I go on???
Highschool attended: Radulphus College. Willemstad, Curaçao
Current Studies /Occupation: Well I finished studying a few years ago. I studied Business Administration in Groningen and when I finished this I studied Music in Groningen as well and graduated in 1998.

What is or are the accomplishments you are most proud of up to now?

Bringing the music that I write and sing in my own language papiamentu, to all parts of the world. There is no greater feeling than noticing that it works everywhere and people leave the concert with a happy smile on their face even if they don’t understand a word I am singing.

Who has been your inspiration?

Oswin ‘chin’ Behilia, Richard Bona, Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, Sara Tavares. Artists from different parts of the world who create by mixing and matching different influences in a unique way.

What are the choices you made that you believe have brought you to where you are today?
Early on in my career I decided to be a true professional; to always be on time, always well prepared, always fair and straight, always friendly….and artistically always follow my gut feeling and my heart.

What do you feel about the state of Antillean music in General?
There is a lot happening and brewing underground. I can’t wait to hear and see what is going to come up in a few years.

How do you feel you are contributing to the evolution of Antillean music?
That is one of the things I am most proud of. I know that even if it is for a small part, my music and my success abroad, a lot of young musicians on my island are now daring to dream bigger dreams. People are now more aware of the richness of our music and culture even though we are a small island. They are finding more and more ways to express their pride.

What do you prefer to do on one of those “I have nothing else to do, no obligation,chill out type of days” in Holland? Those days are very rare for me. But when I have them I love to go see a concert by artists I admire, catch a movie or just curl up on the couch and watch a nice series on DVD. Nowadays I have two addictions: Grey’s Anatomy and Heroes.

How do you feel about the state of contemporary music on the islands/or Holland? Well, sometimes I miss some originality I guess. I think people are too obsessed about being succesful instead of being original. Thank Goodness you always have special quircky individuals that will try something new and make it hip to be special for a while. I love real musicians, real singers, and real songwriters. I hope they are the ones who will keep on prevailing in this world filled with plastic, computer enhanced artists.


How do you think we can improve music education on the islands?
I hope the government realizes how important music education is for it’s people. We need a proper way of teaching so children can get a good basic music education. We need a way to detect kids that have a special inclination or talent early on. We need ways to make sure gifted children fully develop their talents.

For this we need a methodology that fits our culture and people. This has to be designed and thoroughly thought over. This requires money, determination, tools and knowledge. We also need to realize that this should be an ongoing process with a long breath. The government is the first who can help in this process. Then we need rolemodels who are willing to teach, talk, advise, listen and form. Here is where I see a big role for me and my fellow musicians.


Why do you believe it is important to support local music, and what does Support mean to you?
Support means providing information, workshops and lectures so that everyone may have access to all the tools and opportunities I used to reach my goal.

This is a very hands-on type of support. I believe it is also important to have an educational system kids can turn to, to develop their talents. This is the only way to keep local music alive, interesting and developing. It needs to grow, develop and be injected with new blood and ideas.

What’s the top five on your Play List?

- Eyala-Richard Bona
- Lisboa Kuya- Sara Tavares
- Be still my heart-Silje Nergaard
- When morning comes-Dianne Reeves
- James-Pat Metheny
What is your favorite song in Papiamentu?
No bai by Oswin ‘Chin’ Behilia

Any new projects or new sounds? 
I am preparing a new CD. I want to try something new but don’t know what yet. I’m thinking, trying, experimenting, writing, tossing and turning…….so I guess it’s 2008 were watching out for.

Message to the Global Community:
Keep supporting the music from lesser known parts of the world. You
 might never know what kind of gems you may encounter and be very pleasantly surprised by music from the smallest of islands.

Shout-out to the Caribflava (The UCC) community:
Hi guys, I feel honored to be part of this community. With ears and eyes wide open to what is happening in the Caribbean region and beyond. Thank you for making me feel so welcome!

( UPDATE: Watch her perform for the King and queen of the Netherlands in April of this year 2014)