Opinion: Medical tourism

POSTED: 08/4/14 10:10 PM

Dear Editor,

Some weeks ago I wrote an opinion letter about edu-tourism and why I think that it is something that St. Maarten should engage in. Medical tourism has many similarities with edu-tourism. To mention a few: it attracts foreign currency, it keeps money circulating in our economy, it creates high paying jobs and it increases the service to the people of St. Maarten.

Many years ago, we voted to become an independent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. On October 10, 2010 this became a reality, but another reality that became painfully clear is that the necessary infrastructure to run St. Maarten efficiently and effectively was lacking. Instead of rushing things for political mileage, I think that we should develop a vision for St. Maarten and that we should build towards that vision.

When we are talking about a more diverse economy, more jobs, sustainable development, reducing the cost of living and much more, we should think about the “how.” How are we going to ensure a long-term income for this country? How can we guarantee long-term services to the citizens of this country? As you know by now, I think that edu-tourism would greatly attribute to answering those questions. Besides edu-tourism there is another form of tourism that can be of an added to value to our economy and to the (medical) service level provided to the citizens of St. Maarten and to those that visit our shores: medical tourism.

Different parties are referring to our medical center/hospital in their campaigns. Some want to invest in a couple of extra rooms, others want to build a state of the art hospital and others again want to focus on bringing better qualified and more specialists to the country. How nice each of these plans may sound, there needs to be a vision behind it. A vision that clearly generates a year-round income, added specialties to our existing ones and a stable amount of employment opportunities added to our current labor market.

In closing I would like to, once again, emphasize that the level of campaigning needs to increase or at least the topics that are brought forward for political mileage need to be those that are showing a vision for St. Maarten. Candidates must have a vision for my sweet St. Maarten land, they must be able to explain that vision and they must be able to explain why I should support that vision. The candidate of my choice would also be a competent one, one that has proven himself or herself in either the private or the public sector.

Dear Editor, via you I would like to ask the candidates to be more outspoken about how our future tertiary care should look like. I am paying tax, I am a law-abiding citizen and I am tired of the poor output of our parliament over the last four years. Convince me why I should vote for you.

Andrew Smith

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