THE NETHERLANDS – Cooperation between the Netherlands and St. Maarten in the area of healthcare is a top priority for Minister of Health Emil Lee.
Representatives of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA) led by Minister Lee recently met with a delegation from the Ministry of Kingdom Affairs led by its Secretary General Richard van Zwol.
“The meeting was extremely productive, it was very candid and constructive. One of the benefits of our very open and transparent approach has been that other stakeholders like the Netherlands are very willing to assist,” Minister Lee said.
The discussions covered updates on the new General Hospital Project as well as developments with St. Maarten’s efforts to implement universal health coverage in the form of National Health Insurance (NHI) as well as areas for cooperation within the Dutch Caribbean.
“As part of our efforts to secure low interest financing for the new Hospital, the Ministry of Kingdom Affairs and the Committee for Financial Supervision (CFT) play a critical role in that approval process. As a follow up to meetings held in Holland, this was an excellent opportunity to update the stakeholders on the progress that has been made in the development plans for the new Hospital,” Minister Lee stated.
Discussions were also held for the possibility of assistance for the Ministry of VSA regarding the development of NHI. “High-quality affordable healthcare close to home requires having a National Health Insurance plan in place that ensures that all residents of St. Maarten are properly insured. We must also ensure that the public health insurance fund remains financially robust. If you look around the world and in the Caribbean, healthcare costs are increasing quickly. We need to make sure NHI is executed correctly,” Minister Lee explained.
The air ambulance helicopter from Saba and St. Eustatius and the service it requires in St. Maarten is of high importance for Kingdom cooperation on healthcare. The offering of proper services at the airport to the medical evacuation helicopter has been a long-standing issue that has been discussed in conferences with parliament from each parts of the Kingdom (IPKO).
The St. Maarten delegation reported that an interim solution had been reached following discussions with the airport and civil aviation, and that a more permanent solution at the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) is also being developed.
St. Maarten was represented by Minister Emil Lee, Head of Public Health Fenna Arnell, and executive advisor for cabinet VSA Jim Rosen.
The delegation from Holland included Richard Van Zwol, a respected and experienced civil servant in the Netherlands, head of St. Maarten office Chris Johnson, and representatives of the Netherlands Mijke van Goozen, Lenneke Parie-Joosen, Eric Brakke, and Jorien Vlaanderen.