Willemstad - Curaçao

U p l i f t i n g

Coaching Services & Leadership Development


Influencer Izzy Gerstenbluth, Book Session, register for the summer workshop on emotions and this week tips

Posted on June 13, 2021 at 9:05 AM

In this week’s blog (14th of June – 20th of June), we will interview Izzy Gerstenbluth; we invite you to our next Master Your Mind joint book presentation on the 15th of June from 7.00 – 9.00 pm via Zoom, presenting “Sapiens” plus “De meeste mensen deugen”; we invite you to our next Personal Journey’s short Summer Courses of “Emoshon kiko e ta? Ki efekto e tin?” starting on the 7th of July at 9 pm session # 1 and at 2 pm session # 2 (especially for those of you in Holland). We will also share some short videos on public health and epidemiology. Every day of the week, we will upload one of these video-links on our Fabebook.com/share2uplift page.


Izzy Gerstenbluth: driven, passionate to make things better


Could you share with us some information of your family life?
I am married and have two daughters and one sister. I was born in Curaçao. My parents were very supportive in letting me become who I am right now. They were main building blocks, together with the social environment in Curaçao, where I grew up. What I experienced when I grew up triggered me to study Medicine, as there was no equal access to health care for those from a lower social status and there was also a clear racial divide back then in the 1960-ies. My parents and growing up in a multi cultural islands where I had to talk at least 4 languages defintely formed me to be who I am now.


Could you share something of you eductional background and your experiences? long have you been an epidemiologist?
I am a medical doctor and later specialized to become a public health physician and an epimediologist. I have always worked in the public sector at GGD of the Ministry of GMN and my late father used to call me “an idiot” for doing that (btw my daugthers agree with him on this. Why? I earned far less compared with other medical professions and certainly worked and made longer hours. I have been in the board of different international boards, as our work was more appreciated elsewhere than in Curaçao. Over the years we have been neglected and our department doesn’t even have a budgetline in the budget of the government, even though lots of important people that could give our work more recognition, are not doing anything to address this un sustainable situation.

How long have you been an epidemiologist?
In 1993/1994 we worked on a major Health Survey in Curaçao, where we concluded that the way we were spending money in the health care, needed to be re-directed. This survey became a best practice example of what is essential national health research and also that this should be the foundation to implement adequate health policy. There was a long time in which the full report of our study, The Curaçao Health Study, Methodology & Main Results, was the first book you encountered upon entry of the library at the main headquarters of the WHO in Geneva.

As we have a relative small population of 160.000 people, when we took a 3% random sample of the adult population of the island (about 2500 people), this was manageable, where other countries had to overcome a lot more to do such an extensive study. Because of the sheer numbers of people if you needed a sample of 3%. For Curaçao although managing 2500 respondents was a hell of a job for us, we pulled it off. This resulted in me being asked to speak for different audiences all over the world. I was even invited and installed as a boardmember of the “Council for Health Research and Development” (COHRED) in Geneva. I was apointed at the end of the 90-ies and stayed on till the beginning years of the new millenium, giving an opportunity to the next generation to take a seat. Years after this I was elected by my Peers in the American continent to serve three years on the Advisory Council on Health Research in the Pan American Health Organization. It was great experience to participate in these platforms because, here is where smaller countries are given an opportunityy to have a seat at international fora and make their voices heard. It was a place where the needs of smaller countries could be brought forward instead of having to accept the agendas of larger countries who had the power. It is no coincidence that COHRED’s slogan was: “Countries first”,It was a wonderful experience to be a member of the board and to actively participate on an international forum directed specifically towards using research for development in the broadest sense widening my own knowledge and understanding the power and importance of essential national health research no matter the size of a country. On the other hand it also created some embarrassing moments, when asked to recount the follow up of our own work in terms of implementing new policy derived from our findings because that is when I had to admit that until today the government has not done much with the recommendations made.


Over the past year the world has and is still been affected by the Covid Pandemic and you have become a very public figure over this past year, as a spoke person of the “Crisisteam” in Curaçao. How has this affected the way you look at public health in terms of “lessons learned” now after this past year?
The past 1,5 year has proven that we lack an adequate public health structure. We, at the department of Epidemiology knew this for a very long time and this was painfully shown during the Covid pandemic. We did manage to weather the Covid pandemic up to this moment rather well, as the number of active covid cases are down and over 74 .000 people are fully vaccinated against Covid. But because of the lack of a structure it cost us considerable more time and effort to get things done. My department of Epidemiology consists of three persons, myself and two other staff members and out team together with some additional help literally worked day and night every single day during 7 days a week. There were times when we went home at 3 am in the morning to come back at the office at 7 am.


Has your view on preventive health changed over the years, especially after the Covid pandemic that we slowly but surely seem to climb out of its worst affects locally?
What you can see is that we do build a white elephant, this new hospital CMC, as in the old hospital SEHOS there was so much des-investment going on and the SEHOS building was in-efficient , that in the end we had no other option then, to build a new hospital. But by not following through on the results of epidemiological studies and the proposals for policy derived from those we keep placing the horse behind the wagon. We do not invest in creating conditions for healthier living, and keep putting money on the back end of treating disease. And in these times of retrenchment in the budget, the dilemma between the lack of enough funds for the financing of health care and the political desire to have a high qualitative care becomes more distressing without even then investing in adequate cost benefit or cast effectivity analysis.

Over the years we have cut in the health care budget on the wrong budget lines, according to me.
SVB is cutting costs in retirement and nursing homes, this while our population on average is growing older.

While clinical specialists are not being addressed and these specialists obstruct efforts to cut in their income, as their renumeration is based on the volume of their work, this creates perverse effects as their income is determined via the number of medical interventions they do.

The costs of our medicines are much higher than the costs of medicines in Holland and in Aruba because of the central joint purchase of medicines between entities .

Of course there is also waste, but more importantly there are persisting inequities in health and health care that are not being adequately addressed.  We see now is that a Task Force aimed to lower the costs in the health care is using incorrect figures to propose budget costs and there is no deliberation or actual involvement of any stakeholders. Where does that leave the health care if cost cutting is done without an idea of what the costs could be in the long run and primarily fueled to be able to pay for the white elephant and actgually proposing that public health should be driven out of the clinic!.


And what about the wellness branche?
The question is: what exactly is “Wellness”? Public health can be defined as all that is needed to protect and promote the health of the population we serve. Health care is just one part of all of this, and it takes place at the end of the line. Our health depends on jobs, education, sound and safe neighborhoods, healthy living conditions, a healthy environment and equity. All of this based on an integrated policy. But if we invest so much money in a new hospital, that then necessitates upkeep, this leaves almost no money left for other essential parts of this integrated policy. This has not been a priority over all these years and like I have said my department of Epimediology doesn’t even have its own separate budget line .

We have documented proof that low- social economic class is a major underlying determinant of chronic diseases while obesity is a common underlying risk factor for the most common chronic illnesses on our island. Those of lower social economic background do not have the understanding nor the means to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

And even if you start now with the children of these adults from the lower social economic bankgrounds it will take a generation to see a change in the epidemiological lay out. In the interim period the costs of healtcare will still be very high because all those with chronic diseases will necessitate treatment. So where do we cut in the health costs?

Even though this is a challenge I am an advocate to approach public health in an integrated manner where we create the pre conditions that people can develop a healthy life style.

This also may include unconditional cash transfers to people in need instead of e.g. food packages. Now, coming back to “wellness”: while public health states that we need to re-engineer our society to create the conditions so that people can develop healthy life styles, wellness submits that there is nothing wrong with our society. “Wellness” basically says that society is not the problem, but that it is you who are unable to cope with the stress of our changing society and therefore we will teach you how to deal with the stresses.

That is not public health. That is a coping strategy or a gimmick if you will and the foundation of a new line of entrepeneurship.

You sound like Rutger Bregman advocating a universal basic income for every one?
I am also a sceptic regarding our democratic system. I am an advocate of giving people more authority, I might sound like like a rebel. But I have seen too often that what the systems we currently employ does not work.

I want to help make this a better place to live in. I was raised in a jewish tradition and one of the key ingredients in that tradition is the obligation to make the world better. A world where we value each other and we do good deeds without fighting among each other. Personally when I see that injustice is being done, I stand up against it especially also there where we can collaborate and team up forces, to create a bigger impact.


How are you trying also to keep up with your personal knowledge and skills levels?
By reading as much as I can ( scientific articles -medical & Public health- as well as books in general and philosophy journals) and interacting with professionals of a wide variety of areas, by participating in teaching of young professionals and participating in conferences and networks. Regretfully due to the demands of leading the COVID response there has not been a grat deal of time for many of these.

 What are your strengths?
I have this enormous drive to make things better, to enable people to become their best. I am telling people around me in the government in positions in which they could make a difference that I am on my way out, forget me. I will retire soon and it would be such a big pitty if whatever we have built , would totally collapse. This is not because I am irreplaceable. Far from it, but we do not plan for sustainable systems, we do not take care of ensuring continuity and improvement over time on the island. Programs run as long as those who initiated them carry them. 

Too often do these programs fall apart after the primary mover is gone. My drive is to identify young people that are willing to shoulder the burden of the work that needs to be done in the public health area. It is not about me, I am all in to create a structure, that will be sustainable and that there will be some young doctors and health professionals that will continue to do the work without me and maybe even conclude that what I have done was “shit” and that they will make it better. This is my BIG WHY.

Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?
Reading, some sports but truth be told: I have not done much of that in recent years and my family.

If you as Izzy would meet a stranger in the bus (let say in Mexico or Columbia) and they would ask you to introduce yourself what would you answer and how would you describe Izzy in one sentence?
Hi, my name is Izzy and I come from Curaçao.


Who are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
There are so many of them...but I would say some ordinary patients, during the time I was working as a general practitioner. They were telling me about their lives and although they had nothing, they were brilliant in surviving and they kept helping others. I deeply admire those people that usually are not the ones being honored or decorated but do so enormously much for others and remain invisible.

I have so many good friends that have and keep on inspiring me, with their own passion, knowledge, integrity and humanity.

I am inspired by the students I have had the honor to accompany, by young people who are eager to learn and by their own drive to make things better, not in the least by my own nephew and nieces as well as my daughters who challenge me to keep up with them.

And of course I was inspired by my parents my sister and my wife. My two daughters. They are both very critical and I am proud of the fact that we always had a lot of humor in our relationships. They are more principle centered that I am and far more disciplined than I am, but not dogmatic in their beliefs .


What is a trait that is still work in progress?
I would love to learn to force myself to become more effective as in this moment in time, because of lack of sufficient staff. I am all over the place as there are so many things that interest me.


What was a defining moment in your life?
My student days in the Netherlands This is the time you define yourself, choose your path, sharpen and polish who you are. The friends you make, the bonds you foster, the things you undertook together, remain essential for you. These are the people who remain among my best friends.


What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now on your Birthday party?
That they still love me.


When do you consider that you have been successful in your personal and business/professional life, let us say 5 years from now?
I hope that we are able to create, and this is something that I am really passionate about, an independent structure that is strong enough, able and capable to refresh and renew itself and that is able to develop capacity and retain capacity to take care of continuity of our intentions.Built upon a foundation we created to manage funds for research (ISOG -2000), we created a new foundation called Curaçao Biomedical & Health Research Institute (CBHRI). The intention of 'Internationale Samenwerking en Onderzoek in de Gezondheidszorg' (ISOG) was to be able to finance a next Health Survey. This never happened and we want to enable and sponsor young students to do their PhD regarding subject matters that are relevant for Curaçao and the other islands of the Dutch Caribbean. s and we would guide them in this. By enabling them to do their PhD’s, we would not only increase their qualitative level, but also the overall level in Curaçao. Wouldn’t it be nice to bring some of our youth with brains back to Curaçao, the reversal of the braindrain. Not only offering the possibility to do research, but also if we would be able to give them a job. We as CBHRI were the first that obtained a direct NWO grant for a joint project together with the Universities of St t Maarten, Aruba and Curaçao, that is not via an academic entity in the Netherlands but as primary lead academic institute. This is important because if we are succesful this would enable us to acquire more grants for essential research as regretfully there are not enough funds for research and thus no opportunities our own young promising students to further their skills , create posts for them and help us elevate our level on the island as a whole and so help ensure a stable development of the country. as much as possible. This is what I will be doing 5 years from now.


More info:
Curaçao Biomedical & Health Research Institute (CBHRI). 
Profile Izzy Gerstenbluth on CBHRI
- Publications on Researchgate 

One of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao
Dr. Izzy Gerstenbluth is a passionate, visionary and highly skilled epidemiologist that has caught the attention since he was a student in Groningen, Holland of many in the seventies. Triggered by the lack of access to medical care for those of lower social economic status in Curaçao, he decided to study Medicine with the intention to bring about changes in the health care system in Curaçao. During the past 35 plus years Izzy has relentlessly worked towards bringing about changes aimed at focusing on the primary health care and in preventive medicine, often seen by others as being rebellious. The Health Care Survey “Hoe gezond is Curaçao” his department made in the early 90-ties, caught international attention and this lead to Izzy being invited to become a board member of the “Council for Health Research and Development”. Izzy stayed in that board till the beginning of the new millenium and later was appointed as member of the Advisory Council for Health Research of the PAHO for 3 years. His vision on the need for an integrated, multi-sectoral policy approach that can have a real impact in the lif e styles and lives of especially those from a lower social economic class has seemed “too far out” for many in government, but after all these years, it seems that the re-prioritization of funds, is the only sensible way to improve the overall health of the people and keep the system affordable over time. At this moment, Izzy is best known because he is the spokesperson of the crisis team dealing with the Covid pandemic in Curaçao, which is managed well, although the department has remained understaffed until today. For the future, Izzy has a clear vision aimed at enabling and retainment of young bright medical students, to further work towards the improvement of the quality of the health care sector especially in Curaçao. Because of all this and his continued ambition to be of service in the health care sector, at times putting in extreme efforts, we dearly love and deeply respect Izzy and consider him part of the 250 Influencers of the island representing the Health sector.


The goal of the core group of Share2Uplift for 2020
The goal of the Share2Uplift movement is to: “Identify 250 leaders from all walks of life to connect, align and create impactful changes in all walks of life, which includes intergenerational collaboration by the end of 2021.” We will use interviewing Influencers, meet-and-greet events, “train-the-trainers”-programs on “Emotional Mastery” and “Intentionality “as national intervention strategies, to reach this goal on top of our goal to scale up the possibilities to connect, align and create impact via a virtual platform. We believe that with collaborating with Miguel Goede on the virtual Vision 2030 platform, we will accelerate the possibilities to connect the diaspora and others elsewhere in the world and on the island willing to constructively create impactful changes in Curaçao, to join. Look at the list of the Influencers we have interviewed or reported on, up to now.

As Share2Uplift we are fully trying to align with this thinking of Center for Curriculum Redesign to promote this agenda in our educational systems and workplace. So, in that sense we fully support any initiative to make our educational system 21st century proof.

Share2Uplift aligners are those that:

– Create an inspiring vision of the future;

– Motivate and inspire people to engage with that vision;

– Manage delivery of the vision;

– Coach and built a team, so that it is more effective at achieving the vision.

These criteria are now being polished.

We also consider these 5 values of the most important ones for Share2Uplift aligners. They are:

• Peace from within;

• Compassion;

• Respectfulness;

• Integrity;

• Responsibility. As we will progress towards this goal we will update you on the progress.

Visit the website for more information.

Next MYM-platform session via Zoom
Our next MYM-platform session will be on the 15th of June (the 3rd Tuesday of the month) via Zoom, where we will present to you the book “Sapiens” and “ De meeste mensen deugen”.

“Sapiens” will be presented by Michiel van der Veur. 
“De meeste mensen deugen” will be presented by Ivan Kuster. 
Moderator Miguel Goede. 

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?
In this first volume of the full-color illustrated adaptation of his groundbreaking book, renowned historian Yuval Harari tells the story of humankind’s creation and evolution, exploring the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.” From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens challenges us to reconsider accepted beliefs, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and view specific events within the context of larger ideas. Featuring 256 pages of full-color illustrations and easy-to-understand text covering the first part of the full-length original edition, this adaptation of the mind-expanding book furthers the ongoing conversation as it introduces Harari’s ideas to a wide new readership.

Instant New York Times Bestseller. "The Sapiens of 2020." —The Guardian

"Humankind made me see humanity from a fresh perspective." —Yuval Noah Harari, author of the #1 bestseller Sapiens

If there is one belief that has united the left and the right, psychologists and philosophers, ancient thinkers and modern ones, it is the tacit assumption that humans are bad.
It's a notion that drives newspaper headlines and guides the laws that shape our lives. From Machiavelli to Hobbes, Freud to Pinker, the roots of this belief have sunk deep into Western thought. Human beings, we're taught, are by nature selfish and governed primarily by self-interest.


But what if it isn't true? International bestseller Rutger Bregman provides new perspective on the past 200,000 years of human history, setting out to prove that we are hardwired for kindness, geared toward cooperation rather than competition, and more inclined to trust rather than distrust one another. In fact this instinct has a firm evolutionary basis going back to the beginning of Homo sapiens.


From the real-life Lord of the Flies to the solidarity in the aftermath of the Blitz, the hidden flaws in the Stanford prison experiment to the true story of twin brothers on opposite sides who helped Mandela end apartheid, Bregman shows us that believing in human generosity and collaboration isn't merely optimistic—it's realistic. Moreover, it has huge implications for how society functions. When we think the worst of people, it brings out the worst in our politics and economics. But if we believe in the reality of humanity's kindness and altruism, it will form the foundation for achieving true change in society, a case that Bregman makes convincingly with his signature wit, refreshing frankness, and memorable storytelling.

Subscribe by emailing us: sixtaivan@gmail.com or ivan@upliftingCuraçao.com and we will send you the Zoom link so that you can participate in our presentation of this book. 

“Sapiens” will be presented by Michiel van der Veur.
“De meeste mensen deugen” will be presented by Ivan Kuster.
Moderator Miguel Goede.

Date: 15th of June
Time: 7.00 – 9.00 PM
Entrance fee: Free

New workshops in Papiamentu on Emotions starting in July

Gran majoría di nos komo ser humano, ta pasando diariamente den un fluho konstante di diferente pensamentu i emoshonan. Esaki ta konta mas aún awor ku nos ta den e gara di COVID-19. Emoshon ta nos kompas interno. No tin emoshon malu ni bon, emoshonan tei pa guía. Nos tin ku atende ku nan i no neglishá, reprimí ni suprimí nan, pa nan no kausa efektonan negativo despues ku ta inesperá. Emoshonan por ta un insentivo pa nos desarojá e potenshal inlimitá ku kada un di nos tin komo persona.

Nos ke yudabo den desarojá esaki, dor di ofresé bo un “personal journey” di 15 siman. 

Nos ta ofrese riba 7 di Yuli di 9 am – 11.45 session # 1 I un ripitishon 2 pm – 4.45 den e session # 2.

• maestría di bo emoshonan;

• kon di deshasí di emoshonan atrapá;

• biba un bida mas intenshonalmente;

• skucha bo intuishon mas mihó pa asina bo por ta mas kreativo i

• kon di laga loke bo a sinja bira un kustumber i transformabo komo persona.

Nos lo kuminsá 7 di Yuli.

Pa mas informashon i detajes di e suma ku ta kobra, tuma kontako ku un di e 3 fasilitadornan:

Haydee Hermans Soul Garden na telefón: 5639848

E-mail: soulgardenCuraçao@gmail.com

O’dennis Daal Master Your Mind na telefón: 5130409

E-mail: odennis.daal@mymcur.com

Ivan Kuster Uplifting BV na telefón: 6986437

E-mail: ivan@upliftingCuraçao.com
Website: www.upliftingCuraçao.com/workshop-emoshon-kiko-e-ta

Personal Coaching tips
This week we will share some short videos on share some short videos on social dialogue. Every day of the week, we will upload one of these video-links on our Fabebook.com/share2uplift page.

1. What Is Epidemiology, and Why Should You Study It? - YouTube
2. What is Public Health? - YouTube
3. What is Epidemiology? - YouTube
4. What is Public Health? - YouTube
5. MPH FAQ | What is Public Health & What General Jobs Are Available? Is Public Health a Good Career? - YouTube
6. A day in your life with public health (full length version) - YouTube



Categories: Influencers, 21st Century Mindsets, Share2Uplift