Minister of Health Emil Lee and Ministry of Health Deputy Secretary-General Gea van Craaikamp.
PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour Affairs VSA Emil Lee together with staff from his Cabinet and Dutch Representative Chris Johnson met with Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports Deputy Secretary-General Gea van Craaikamp and members of her staff recently.
Lee and Van Craaikamp explored the possibilities to build on the ongoing cooperation between the two ministries and those of Curaçao and Aruba on healthcare within the Kingdom as per cooperation agreement.
“Many of the problems related to health care that we are facing in St. Maarten have already been addressed by our partners in the Kingdom. Aruba for example has gone through the process of setting up a National Health Insurance and has a great deal of experience to share with us.
“The Netherlands and the BES islands [Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba – Ed.] have a strong system when it comes to constraining the prices of prescription drugs. And Curaçao is in the same process when it comes to the screening and vetting of doctors to establish in the country. Why not learn from their successes and challenges?” Minister Lee asked.
The VSA Ministry is working on various important issues under the National Health Reform programme. One of those issues is finalising the BIG legislation, which will create a register in St. Maarten for all medical professionals.
The BIG will set educational norms and standards for all medical professionals while practicing in St. Maarten. While working on finalising the BIG, Ministry VSA is working on the improvement of the current vetting system for medical professionals establishing in St. Maarten who are not registered in the Netherlands.
Another issue is the pricing of prescription drugs. Ministry VSA is already actively engaged in reform of prescription drugs pricing and is interested in learning from the legislation of the BES islands already in place.
VSA is facing a great deal of work on the establishment of new legislation and amendment of existing legislation related to healthcare. Minister Lee and Craaikamp also discussed the possibilities to make use of the services of Dutch legislative lawyers to enhance the productivity of law-making in St. Maarten. The Netherlands Ministry of Health can share its good practices with St. Maarten on all these issues.
“Cooperation will not be developed with the Netherlands Health Ministry alone. In September 2016, a cooperation agreement was signed by the Ministers of Health of St. Maarten, Curaçao, Aruba and the Netherlands. Cooperation will be developed under the umbrella of this agreement. The agreement established a platform between the four Ministers,” said Lee.
Minister Lee will take the initiative to organise the first meeting between the countries this year, preferably between the elections in Curaçao and Aruba. The four Health Ministers will set the agenda and work programme, and successive working meetings will be held by the civil servants of the various Ministries. The aim is to share experiences and to come to more concrete cooperation results on certain issues.