PHILIPSBURG--A registration system for medical professionals operating in St. Maarten will go into effect as of January 1, 2015.
An ordinance has been approved by the Council of Ministers and will go into effect once it has gone through the necessary channels. All persons operating in the medical field will be required to register and will have to re-register every five years.
There are currently about 475 persons operating in the medical field in St. Maarten.
The Inspectorate of Public Health will be responsible for the registration of medical professionals and supervision of the ordinance, which is part of efforts by government to improve the quality of health care in the country. Health Minister Cornelius de Weever announced the registration system at a press conference on Tuesday.
Department of Public Health legal policy advisor Dana Kweekel told reporters that the registration would be linked to the individual's professional training, so if someone is registered as a dentist that person will not be allowed to offer services outside the area of dentistry.
Medical professionals will have to re-register every five years and show the inspectorate that they have worked during the years in which they have been registered and have followed "professional continuance education."
Medical professionals registered also will be required to deliver "appropriate care" and should have a mandatory complaints procedure in place.
Persons will not be allowed to act as medical professionals in St. Maarten if they fail to register or to inform the Inspectorate of Public Health that they are practising medicine or acting as medical professionals here. Kweekel said the term "medical professional" covered a broad scope of professions operating in the industry.
The Inspectorate will register only medical professionals who are qualified, competent and capable to act as medical professionals, Kweekel said.
There is also a notification requirement for persons who have not completed an approved or accredited education. This requirement is aimed at obtaining an overview of what Kweekel referred to as the "alternative circuit" of practitioners, such as chiropractors, etc.
The registration of medical professionals is intended to increase the quality of health care professionals operating in the country. Kweekel said the intention was also to increase public access to information and the register of medical professionals would be accessible to the public.
De Weever said the progress made with this and public health ordinances showed that the department had been very busy. He said many overnight hours had been spent working on these ordinances. He thanked the team at the Department of Public Health for their work.