Dave Levenstone: Are we better off now?

Mr. Editor, as a citizen and a resident of Saba I have been observing, studying, analyzing various aspects of our new constitutional status and I am asking myself many questions. 

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When I take a look at our so call new medical care that we have gone under since January 1st and I have to say that we are worse off now. Many will recall when former Commissioner Will Johnson had to make threats that he was going to ask Hugo Chavez to assist him with funds in order to help cover the sending of patients overseas for medical treatment and for health care. When the Island Government of Saba did not have money of their own, patients were able to be sent to Holland for medical treatment and now that we are part of Holland our people are being sent to Colombia and Guadeloupe. Are we better off?

Saba Health Care Foundation did a tremendous job together with the Hospital to make sure that they had good agreements with some of the best specialist so that patients could have gone there freely. Places like Curacao, Aruba, French and Dutch St. Maarten, Holland, Puerto Rico, Miami, Houston and many other places were part of the then bankrupt Government routine and it worked well. In my book even the BZV, FZOG and SVB functioned better than what we got today.

I cannot believe that we have reached this stage where you have a Health Care Insurance Office on Bonaire dictating to the doctors on Saba where their patients should be sent to. And mind you they are people sitting in some office on the flamingo island that has no knowledge or experience in health care issues deciding the faith of the citizens of Saba. How can a respectable place like Holland allow this type of situation to continue and things being done unilaterally.

The entire health care issue is a disgrace and in shambles to see and hear what’s happening. Medical specialist that has had years of experience and has worked well with patients from Saba is now being denied the opportunity to visit specialist because one or two Dutch civil servants are determining which specialist will receive a contract to serve the patients of Saba.

To me it really looks like even the people in Cuba have better opportunities when it comes to health care. And to top it off also these so call civil servants on the Flamingo Island is rather very bold with their stand on whom patients should be afforded the opportunity to see. My question to the First and Second Chamber would be are you aware of what is going on in Saba? Mind you I am not going to venture speaking about Statia and Bonaire because simply put it does not interest me. But as a resident of Saba I have to ask these cardinal questions. I am not into the business of hearing who agreed and who signed any agreements. Because it seems that whenever you start to put these various departments in their place about the issues they throw in your face that your leaders and politicians signed these agreements, all well and nice. I am one of those that would say yes our leaders signed these agreements as they were of the opinion that it was being done in good faith.

I don’t think that there is one particular politician on Saba that would have gone out there to sign agreements that would destroy Saba. I am one of those persons that do not support the Government of Saba or its leaders but I am not going to sit into any meeting and listen to any one come to share the blame on our government leaders. Being involved in politics also on this island I have the feeling that at the time of all these agreements so much was being brought down on our leaders that they were looking out for what was good at the time. We all know that money was the main issue here and our leaders wanted to make sure that they were getting the money to bail us out of the problems that we were confronting. I can understand this but at the same time some of these Dutch civil servants are using their strategic know how to pull of some good things on our people.

Our people are now being treated like third class citizens where this whole health care insurance is concerned. Here is where I am a strong believer that our Island Council members have to step up to the plate, mind you there is no more time for blaming Executive Council’s or Commissioners. I would suggest to the Island Council members to convene a public meeting of the Island Council and table a few strong motions identifying the problems and the bottlenecks that our Saba people are now faced with and send a strong message to the Health Care Insurance Office and all other Dutch offices letting them know that as Island Council you are not going to accept this type of behavior. After all nobody on Saba voted for RCN, ZVK, Customs Office or any other office. The people of Saba voted for 5 persons to represent their common interest in the Island Council so the members of the council got to start defending and representing the interest of the Saban community and the only way is to pass a few hard hitting motions.

A message has to be sent loud and clear. And in the event that the honorable members of the council don’t have the guts to make such moves then it is only but fair to do the honorable thing and inform the people of Saba that they are not able to defend their interest. It’s as simple as that.

The situation cannot continue this way where the life of the Saba people is on the line and a few people in some office on the flamingo island is deciding. We are not better off in health care.

Dave Levenstone,

Concerned citizen and resident of Saba.