Commissioner Zagers says talks with Health Minister were very productive

Commissioner of Health, Bruce Zagers characterized talks with the Dutch Minister of Health, Edith Schippers as very productive. He said that Executive Council had relayed to the Minister that the despite the poor start they were pleased by the major strides made by the Health Insurance Office in the past six months.


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Healthcare has been a major point of discussion with between the national government and the Public Entity since the transition in January 2011. From the onset Saban officials were very critical with the way the process was handled, especially when it came to off island referrals, where it seemed that there was no clear understanding of how they were being handled and at one point the Commissioner advocated the return to Saba Healthcare.

One of the main focus points of the discussion was the medication list, which has changed significantly since the new insurance ZVK took over. In the new system persons are now paying for medication which was normally covered by their insurance, and has negatively affected low income earners, pensioners and others receiving social benefits. Another concern was also the fact that patients are being referred to French and Colombian doctors even though a Dutch medication lists is being used. This has come with many difficulties.

The commissioner said that the minister indicated that the goal was to continue making improvements to the health care service for the residents of the Public Entities. This is a goal which is shared by the Commissioner.

During the meeting the Executive Council highlighted the need to improve cooperation with the St. Maarten Medical Center as it is in the best interest of the patients from Saba and St. Eustatius. Although the services in Guadeloupe and Columbia are acceptable, a closer relationship with St. Maarten is preferred.

Alternative access to emergency evacuations using fixed wing aircraft was also a point of discussion.