Minister Lee meets with Aruba’s Health Minister and AZV representatives

(from left to right): Aruba’s Minister of Health Alex Schwengle, and Minister of VSA Emil Lee.
(from left to right): Aruba’s Minister of Health Alex Schwengle, and Minister of VSA Emil Lee.

ARUBA/ST. MAARTEN – Continuing on his mission to improve cooperation on healthcare issues both within the Kingdom and regionally, Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor Emil Lee travelled to Aruba last week to meet with Aruba’s Minister of Health Alex Schwengle.

His first meeting was held with Minister Schwengle in St. Maarten during the International Health Regulation (IHR) conference earlier this year. In this follow up meeting, Minister Lee learned about the different options, and best practices of Aruba. One of the main topics discussed was the Alegemene Ziektekosten Verzekering (AZV), and the National Health Insurance program, which Aruba put in place.

During Wednesday’s, August 3, Council Of Ministers press briefing, Minister Lee stated that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is being worked on with Aruba. “Aruba has a need to improve their Inspectorate of Health, and since we have a well formed Inspectorate of Health, we are working on a cooperation agreement with them.”

The Minister said that they are looking into having a review commission in place, which will have representatives from Aruba, St. Maarten, and Curaçao come together to analyze and review medical complaints related to healthcare. “One of the benefits of having this inter-island commission is that it can avoid local sensitivity as well as provide expertise from the various islands that we can all learn from.”

Minister Lee met with representatives of the AZV, in particular Anco Ringeling and Lex de Jong. St. Maarten is currently working on a National Health Reform, and Minister Lee thought that it would be clever to meet with the representatives to learn about Aruba’s universal coverage, and see what could be learned from their process.

“It was very interesting to talk to them about their experiences with the universal coverage in terms of what their challenges are, as well as to learn about their successes and difficulties. We are hoping to adopt some of the lessons learned in their process to the St. Maarten National Health Insurance scheme,” said Minister Lee.

It’s particularly interesting that Aruba has developed their own medical referral program and has software in place to manage that program. They also have a well-established review protocol, which Minister Lee believes St. Maarten should consider collaborating with Aruba.