Published On: Mon, Jul 2nd, 2018

Lee signs collaboration agreement to improve public health within the Kingdom

Head Dutch Representative of Holland Mr. Chris Johnson, Minister Lee & State Secretary Mr.Blokhuis

Minister of VSA, Emil Lee returns to Sint Maarten from Curacao with confidence in the working relationship between the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten towards strengthening health care within the Kingdom. The Public Health Ministers of the four countries; State Secretary Paul Blokhuis of the Netherlands – representing Saba, Sint Eustatius and Bonaire, Minister Danguillaume Oduber of Aruba, Susanne Camelia-Römer of Curaçao and Emil Lee of St. Maarten, signed an inter-ministerial cooperation agreement that expresses the intentions on the way forward in the area of International Health Regulation. Each of the countries will work towards supporting each other in terms of implementation as well as legislation.

Lee expressed enthusiasm to be able to move forward with the cooperation, which had been paused due to various reasons such as elections on both Aruba and Sint Maarten and hurricane Irma.

Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten have to draft a public health ordinance, of which Sint Maarten has already established a new public health legislation. Aruba and Curacao will be able to make use of the newly established public health ordinance of Sint Maarten to draft their own.

“Holland has actually agreed to make a legislative lawyer available to assist with the with the drafting of legislation and in particular working towards a joint development and implementation aimed at the prevention of public health emergencies of international concern.” – Emil Lee, Minister of VSA

For Sint Maarten, Lee identified several specific areas of attention for which countries can learn and support each other. These are; the Sint Maarten ‘Beroepen in de Individuele Gezondheidszorg’, the BIG registry which in general identifies the qualifications of health care providers, reducing the cost of prescription drugs, quality of health care and prevention.

“Preventative care and cost management has a big focus. We’re looking at, how we can control our health care costs. As the old saying goes; that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And certainly that’s something that I believe in. We’re looking at how do we improve health and incentivize people to maintain healthy lifestyles.” – Emil Lee, Minister of VSA

Cooperative curative health care is also a topic to be addressed by the ministries; mental health care, social-emotional care, addiction, child abuse and care for children in general. Improving the quality of health care by synchronizing and learning from the respective hospitals, insurance providers, inspectorates etc. will allow each ministry to improve. Ideally, Lee sees the implementation of a ‘dashboard’ system where all countries can have a compiled overview of the availability of health care professionals, institutions, needs etc.

“You know every island is facing challenges in terms of being able to provide a sufficient number of quality health care professionals and so this is again a concern between all of the islands in terms of how do we make sure that we’re bringing in the numbers and qualities of specialists that we need for our country” – Emil Lee, Minister of VSA

Lee expressed that VSA is looking into ways to improve the manner in which foreign diploma’s are assed to meet the qualifying criteria of Sint Maarten. There is an interest in a collaboration with the Netherlands for support in this area. The agreement of Curacao, Aruba and Sint Maarten to have their hospitals JCI accredited is an example of the shared skill-sharing and costs-saving opportunities that could arise from the cooperation. Lee said; “This allows for the countries to be able to share protocols, inspectors, consultants – all of that is much more accessible by the fact that we’ve agreed to all work towards the same standards.” Curacao and Aruba are busy with a model for the reduction of the costs of prescription drugs, a model that Sint Maarten can learn from and adapt for its own.