Saba’s Executive Council on Thursday, October 27 decided to take its concerns about the long-standing problems with the medical referral system to a higher level, and has asked the Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sport (VWS) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BZK) for an independent investigation of the functioning of Care and Youth Caribbean Netherlands ZJCN.
In a letter to the Ministry of VWS, the Executive Council explained that it has reached out many times to ZJCN, written “countless” letters and requested direct, in-person meetings to discuss the concerns and complaints of Saba patients who must travel abroad to obtain further medical care.
The meetings with ZJCN that were granted were always cordial in nature with the promise of some change and attention for matters that affect Saban patients, but the status quo persisted. After a meeting with stakeholders on St. Eustatius earlier this year, ZJCN agreed to monthly meetings with stakeholders on Saba, including the local government, to track improvements on the many issues that plague the island’s healthcare system. “These meetings, unfortunately have never taken place, once again underscoring how the actions/inactions of ZJCN remain problematic for Saba,” the Executive Council stated.
“While the Executive Council will not discredit some recent improvements, particularly the referrals pilot, allowing local doctors to refer patients to St. Maarten for care and treatment, the recurring complaints of stagnation in the referral process, denials of medically necessary treatment abroad cannot be ignored by local government, and as representatives of the Saban population must now be taken to a higher level with a louder voice,” it was stated in the letter.
The Executive Council is therefore requesting to have an independent investigation carried out into the performance of ZJCN, focusing primarily on the objectivity, ability and willingness of ZJCN management to make improvements to the referral system which have been needed for years.
“After the most recent incidents on Saba involving patients needing to travel abroad, it can only be surmised that the referral system has not improved to a level that is, at its least, satisfactory. The Executive Council is therefore no longer confident that management of ZJCN wants to or is capable of making the necessary improvements that will directly impact Saban patients.”
The Executive Council said its letter was a “resounding call for action” to be taken by the Ministries of
VWS and BZK and to play an integral role in what is needed for actual change to take place.