Briefing on draft international health laws

Health Minister Omayra Leeflang updated Health Commissioner Hyacinth Richardson and a representative of the future Ministry of Health about the draft laws on international health regulations that future countries St. Maarten and Curaçao will have to abide by.

The draft laws outline how the future countries should respond to global health threats.

International health laws are still the responsibility of the Central Government, as they are only applicable to countries. Future countries St. Maarten and Curaçao will assume responsibility for these laws when they attain their new statuses.

The minister said she believed it was important to prepare the laws so that St. Maarten and Curaçao would not be burdened with this responsibility when they became countries. She noted that international health regulations were important as they dealt with global health threats, and countries that failed to abide by international health laws risked being blacklisted.

She said the Netherlands Antilles had successfully met international health stipulations in the past and had even received a Caribbean Epidemiology Centre Carec award in 2009.

Countries can no longer refer to international laws to tailor a response when faced with a threat. They should already have the necessary structures in place – such as surveillance, response and monitoring systems – to immediately deal with health threats that arise.

The minister also "bundled" into a booklet all the existing health care laws the Central Government had been responsible for, but which were now the responsibility of St. Maarten. The booklet was presented to Richardson.

The minister said that with the transfer of tasks and responsibilities for health, labour and social security from the Central to the Island Government in April, it was important for St. Maarten to have at its disposal the laws covering areas that it was now responsible for.

As certain health care tasks had been previously carried out by the Central Government, all the laws had been primarily available at the Central Government level, but it was important for the laws to be accessible to St. Maarten, she said.
Some 11 areas ranging from guaranteeing quality health care, health care institutions, blood supply and transfusions to cost of medicines, special illnesses and the Inspectorate of Public Health, are covered in the booklet.

(Source: Daily Herald Sint Maarten)

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