SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour Emil lee recently participated in the launch of the High-level Commission's report on Universal Health in the 21st Century: 40 Years of Alma-Ata.' This event was held on April 9 and 10, in Mexico City, Mexico. The report outlines ten recommendations on how countries can ensure that all people have access to health in the Region of the Americas and was presented by the Mexico’s highest authorities, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the United Nations, and members of the High-level Commission.
In a short address, Minister Lee shared the following statements during the event: “The report is a validation that the process we are on to transform the health care system is on the right track. There are aspects of the report that address the principles of solidarity and access to health care as a basic human right, which is the foundation of we have been using as we redevelop our health care system on Sint Maarten. Our current social insurance system is fragmented, consisting of six different funds with different packages and schemes; alongside this, you have the private insurance. The challenge is to find a way to unite these all into one system. The held here [at the event] are no different from the discussions being held in Sint Maarten.”
Minister Lee shared two specific comments on the recommendations outlined in the report. Comment 1: the process of incorporating universal health insurance is very much a political process as much as it is a process of transforming health care and financial management. The recommendations do not reflect this reality and more attention should be paid to this aspect. Comment 2: recommendation #10 poses the ultimate question – how do you finance it? Finding a sustainable financial model is the ultimate challenge in universal health coverage and something that we in Sint Maarten are still perfecting. The composition of the High-level Commission could have had more representation from a financial and economic perspective. The report could have included more tangible examples of how other countries have managed this financial question, highlighting the successes and failures. The Ministry is taking the lessons learned from neighboring countries, the mechanisms of private sector and is thankful to PAHO for their contributions and assistance to Sint Maarten so far in providing technical assistance.
As outlined in the report, the main recommendations for achieving universal health include:
1.Ensure the right to health.
2.Develop models of care based on primary health care (PHC).
3.Generate social participation mechanisms.
4.Generate mechanisms for regulation and control of the private sector.
5.Eliminate barriers to health access.
6.Address social determinants with intersectoral interventions.
7.Reposition public health as the guiding axis of the State’s response.
8.Value human resources as protagonists of PHC.
9.Promote the rational use and innovation of technological resources.
- Ensure efficient and sustainable financing.
The 17 members of the Commission participated in the presentation of the report. These members consist of academics, former health ministers, activists and representatives of social movements, as well as delegations from 28 countries, including 18 ministers of health in the Region, including from Bahamas, Barbados, Bolivia, Curacao, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela and Minister Lee representing Sint Maarten. To read the Commission’s report, visit: www.paho.org/WHD