Levelling the playing field in healthcare – St. Eustatius

Dear Editor,
On July 20, 2022, I read the job posting on the Facebook page of the St. Eustatius Health Care Foundation (SEHCF) for a BIG registered General Practitioner/“Tropenarts”. In the Netherlands, healthcare professionals have a protected title under the Individual Healthcare Act (Wet op de Beroepen in de Individuele Gezondheidszorg, BIG).
After reading the SEHCF’s published job criteria, I decided to send an official letter to the Supervisory Board and Board of Directors of the SEHCF to state my concerns regarding the requirements listed.
First, the SEHCF is requesting that the professional be BIG registered. By demanding such, all other training options are automatically excluded. This practice, to me, does not embrace inclusiveness, especially in light of the local reality. St. Eustatius is not fully integrated into the Netherlands, which means deviations within the law are possible. Additionally, I have not seen any legislature that demands all medical professionals practicing on the island be BIG registered. If such a legislature exists, I would be interested in knowing on what basis this decision is founded.
Second, Statian students receive scholarships to study at accredited universities in the USA, Canada, the Caribbean and Europe. Pursuing a medical degree in one of the above countries (including other islands that are a part of the Dutch kingdom) is possible, as long as the program is accredited. Given the posted requirements a qualified (Statian or Dutch national) professional who completed their medical degree in one of the above countries would not be eligible for the medical job posting within the local hospital simply because they are not BIG registered although they are fully accredited and experienced in the country of their training.
Third, the job posting was placed solely in Dutch which indicates that one is searching for a professional from a particular place, most specifically, the Netherlands or even Belgium. This practice is somewhat ironic because English is also one of the official languages of St. Eustatius. It is known and extensively researched that the quality and efficacy of medical care is exponentially improved when the medical practitioner and client can communicate effectively and share comparable experiences. Limiting the application process to this particular subset of professionals would be a disservice to the population the SEHCF aims to serve.
Professionals with international qualifications equivalent to a Dutch diploma should also be allowed to work within the health sector on the island of St. Eustatius. I, therefore, hope that future job postings will reflect this reality.

Xiomara Balentina

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