PHILIPSBURG — On Monday March 11 the Ministry of VSA hosted an interactive stakeholder consultation session for local medical professionals facilitated by representatives of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO). The topic of the session was to learn and exchange views on the concept of universal health insurance and the implications of General Health Insurance (GHI) on Sint Maarten. Minister Lee commented: “we had an excellent meeting, the discussions were extremely positive. Everyone was focused on giving constructive criticism, which can be incorporated in the draft legislation.”
The Department of Public Health had the opportunity to explain part of the draft GHI legislation during the session. Local medical professionals had an opportunity to express their frustrations with the current system. These shortcomings with the present health care insurance scheme and its financing as brought forward by the health care providers, further highlighted the need for change. Minister Lee stated that the draft legislation for the implementation of GHI will bring fundamental changes. The GHI legislation will allow government to take another look at the compensation model for the health care providers, and also focus on areas of preventative care that will help us in managing our health care costs.
“The Ministry is working extremely hard on reforming our entire health care sector. We have put a lot of effort into the hospital project, but also increasing the range of specialists that are here on the island. All of this with the philosophy of delivering affordable quality care close to home. However, if our people do not have the finances to access all of this then that is a problem. As part of our entire health reform process, we need to make sure that the health finances ARE sustainable.” – Emil Lee, Minister VSA
The delegation of senior universal health care experts representing the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), included:
– Dr. Erica Wheeler, PAHO/WHO representative for Trinidad & Tobago, Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, Saba
– Dr. Anton Cumberbatch, of the University of the West Indies, former Chief Medical Officer of Trinidad & Tobago
– Dr. Stanley Lalta, Health Economist of the University of the West Indies.
Ten organizations representing local health care providers and professionals were in attendance. Among them the organizations of the general practitioners, physical therapists, the St. Maarten Medical Center, the White and Yellow Cross Foundation, supervisory board members of the SZV and others.
On Tuesday March 12, a consultation session with representatives of local media was also hosted by the Ministry of VSA. This meeting was also deemed successful.