Parliaments set up four way work group on healthcare

POSTED: 01/12/12 3:40 PM

St. Maarten– Members of Parliament from Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten and the Netherlands have agreed to install a committee on healthcare so they can come to specific ideas of how the countries in the Kingdom can deepen cooperation in these areas. The committee, which has two months to table their report, is required to “respect the phase each country is in” in terms of the development of their healthcare system.

The core task will be identifying the complexities around healthcare and identifying how countries can cooperate. Aruba will take the lead on the committee, which will consist of Aruba’s Mervyn Wyatt-Ras, Curacao’s Dean Rozier, Dr. Lloyd Richardson of St. Maarten and Ineke van Gent of the Netherlands.

Cooperation

Independent Member of Parliament Patrick Illidge, Curacao’s Dean Rozier and Curacao’s Amerigo Thode have also stressed that the countries should cooperate on purchasing medicine as a means of lowering costs because of bulk orders. The latter also wants the countries to collaborate on a basic health insurance scheme as this would lower premiums to residents across the kingdom and on Curacao’s set up of a prevention institute. Curacao also wants a bilateral agreement with the Netherlands on health inspection.

Members of the Dutch delegation joined in and stressed a need to cooperate by developing particular specialties in each island that people from the others can access. They made this suggestion after observing that each of the Caribbean countries in the kingdom is building, expanding or needs to expand a hospital and add more specialists.

“It is an idea that you each create specialist centers on your island, instead of trying to do things individually and have only a small scale,” Labour Party (PvdA) Senator Marijke Linthorst said.

This is also supported by Boshi Wever of Aruba.

“I agree on creating specific specialist centers on each island or we doomed. We must signal our governments on how we feel about this as soon as possible,” Wever said.

The suggestion for specialist centers is also supported by MFK faction leader Dean Rozier who called for the partners in the Kingdom to work together the matter of specialist care just before Linthorst made her suggestion. Further to this he believes that the countries should look to their regional neighbors for cooperation as well.

Dr. Richardson is also in agreement with forming partnerships in the kingdom and in the region in order to solve issues like language barriers and immigration challenges.

“We must remember that we are talking about people here and here in St. Maarten immigration adds to the problem. So you must think about people’s nationality and foreign affairs departments,” Richardson said.

Aruba’s Rene Herde is also ready to cooperate and invited specifically Curacao to a discussion on “lifting the level”. Later he added St. Maarten and the Netherlands.

Opening remarks

In general opening remarks on healthcare Aruba’s Mervyn Wyatte-Ras stressed that quality of care should be the point of departure in all discussions on cooperation in healthcare and that Aruba is interested in bilateral and multi-lateral cooperation.

“When it comes to Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao we can share things like specialists and information on patients. The collaboration with Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten should be further investigated and at the Kingdom level there could be cooperation on specialist care, research, quality of care and improving post-graduate medical opportunities for doctors,” the Aruban MP said.

Curacao’s Amerigo Thode pointed out that Curacao is currently spending 13 percent of its Gross National Product on healthcare and that 25 percent of the health care budget is for medicine. This after outlining that his country’s government will place focus on primary care and prevention in the coming four years as it also builds a new hospital and implements a basic health insurance system.

Van Gent applauded St. Maarten for taking steps already to assist in healthcare provision to people from Saba and St. Eustatius. The Dutch are now looking to Curacao and Aruba to do the same with people from Bonaire.

“Healthcare is becoming more expensive and we need to see how we can organize cooperation and sharing costs,” van Gent said.

Roy Marlin of St. Maarten called for broader discussion on the inequalities in healthcare and reiterated that the Government of St. Maarten is “not in the position to provide any guarantees” to the St. Maarten Medical Center as it proceeds with its expansion plan.

“What we have to think about is how St. Maarten can do more to improve healthcare,” Marlin said.

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