Tripartite committee will be formed to tackle MHF issues | THE DAILY HERALD

From left: VSA cabinet legal advisor Jaap van Duinkerken; MHF Interim Director Eileen Healy; MHF board member Dr. Sonia Swanston-Meade; Health Minister Emil Lee; MHF Board President Dr. Felix Holiday and board member Erika van der Horst; Public Health Department legal advisor Joanne Dekker; VSA cabinet senior policy advisor Selby Phili.

CAY HILL–A tripartite committee comprising key stakeholders in the health sector will be formed to tackle some of the pressing issues facing Mental Health Foundation (MHF), including reviewing the possibility of securing a new building for the foundation.

The formation of the committee was one of several issues coming out of a meeting between Health Minister Emil Lee and MHF representatives on May 28. Lee described the meeting as being “very open, candid, and constructive,” and noted that it had addressed a number of structural issues, including finances, the process of permitting specialists, the worldwide shortage of psychiatrists and the challenges this presents in sourcing a qualified psychiatrist to serve Sint Maarten.

Lee told reporters on Wednesday that it had been agreed during that meeting that the most structural way to tackle mental health and psychosocial care issues in St. Maarten is to establish a tripartite committee consisting of health practitioners and administrators in the mental health sector, insurance providers and members of the Ministries of Health and Justice.

The committee would handle matters such as developing an overall psychosocial plan which would encompass updates to the National Mental Health Plan; developing an overall strategic framework; reviewing legislation related to mental health; and reviewing the possibility of securing a new building to house MHF and all the requirements to realise this.

“The health tripartite committee structure has worked extremely well. This committee consists of the SMMC [St. Maarten Medical Centre – Ed.], VSA [Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Affairs] and SZV [Social and Health Insurances]. The committee was established to guide the development of the new hospital and the cooperation between the entities in terms how we are moving forward with the development of our health care sector.

“I think a similar structure focused on mental health would also be beneficial,” Lee said during the Council of Ministers press briefing.

To address the central complaint amongst institutions surrounding the permitting of medical specialists, a committee will also be formed that will focus on reviewing the process for the approvals of medical specialists.

Lee stressed that the Ministry is obligated to follow the law and maintain established quality standards. However, government processes can sometimes become bureaucratic and the intention is to therefore look towards streamlining these processes. A legislative writer will be part of this committee and the objective is to come with short-, medium- and long-term solutions to simplify the process and meet St. Maarten’s needs.

During the meeting parties also committed to improve communication amongst stakeholders.

Lee said the meeting’s outcomes tie in perfectly with the agreements made at the recently-held Kingdom Health Conference in Bonaire. Mental health legislation was one of the topics St. Maarten set as a priority. With legislative assistance from the Netherlands, a template from Curaçao and the vision of this committee, the final product will be something with which everyone can be happy, Lee noted.

As it relates to the foundation’s finances, SZV and MHF recently entered into a two-year budget agreement that encompasses the current outstanding amounts. This agreement is a way forward in addressing MHF’s financial issues, Lee said.

Source: The Daily Herald