POND ISLAND, Philipsburg, St. Maarten–On Monday December 3rd, Minister of Public Health Emil Lee and Regional General Director Mrs. Valerie Denux of the French Government signed the long awaited MOU to solidify a structural working relationship between the Health Ministries of both sides of the island. The MOU signing will result in dedicated work groups that will focus on research and development in: laws & regulations, quality systems, allocation of specialties, purchase and delivery of medication, secondary care, health security, emergencies, medical evacuations and more.
“From the very beginning, one of my key priorities was to ensure that the Dutch side and the French side find a way to cooperate so that we can collaborate, rather than compete. The time is now; actually, the time has passed that we start really talking about how the two of us, the two sides of the island can cooperate for the best interests of our own healthcare systems as well as for the quality of life for the people on our respective sides of the island. I think that this is an important step, an important milestone in moving in that direction.” – Minister of Public Health, Emil Lee
An initial MOU was drafted in 2016 but this was then not realized due to the required protocols in France not being formalized. Lee and Denux, who is responsible for the Public Health of St. Martin, St. Barths, Martinique and Guadeloupe, have met and consulted on a structural basis this year to review and update the most recent MOU. Both French and Dutch Government representatives have a collective interest to reinforce and improve relations as it relates to providing quality health care that is accessible and taking into account the needs of the countries. With the construction of the new St. Maarten General Hospital in sight, exchange of complimentary services will also be a topic in the work group strategies. Both Lee and Denux have agreed to meet again in April 2019 to review the progress of the work groups.
“Health issues are more important than borders and nationalities; we need to formalize our relationship. Developing our relations must go through a clear framework. It is important for France to work towards an improved cooperation with our Dutch counterparts.” – Regional General Director, Mrs. Valerie Denux, General Director of the Health Agency of Guadeloupe, St Martin and St Barths.