PHILIPSBURG:---: An extraordinary display of engagement and collaboration by a group of civil servants who submitted a letter with 116 questions to Minister Omar Ottley, highlighting their concerns and questions regarding the eagerly awaited Ottley Care (SAAHA), was met with enthusiasm and appreciation at the Government Administration Building on Tuesday, October 10th.
Minister Ottley welcomed this important step towards building a "comprehensive healthcare plan" and said that anyone in his position as Minister of Health who truly cares about the well-being of the people of St. Maarten would be honored to receive input from the people.
The "Ottley Care" (SAAHA) has been meticulously crafted to address the healthcare needs of the citizens of St. Maarten. Minister Ottley emphasizes that his mission is not just to provide healthcare but to create a healthcare plan that is a cornerstone of nation-building and one that encompasses the values and aspirations of the community.
Minister Ottley stated, "I called it Ottley Care because I genuinely care about the health and welfare of our citizens. We cannot let healthcare become a political tool, as it has been in the past. SAAHA is about us, the people, and our needs."
The Minister went on to express that it is only through the active participation of the general public and individuals from both the public and private sectors that Ottley Care (SAAHA) can genuinely become a comprehensive and inclusive healthcare product that everyone can be proud of.
Minister Ottley added, "I welcome the input and questions from the Civil Servants and the general public, and we will answer your questions within five days. We will not only answer your questions but also provide opportunities for clarification on any areas that may need further explanation. Your involvement is pivotal in making Ottley Care a healthcare plan for all."
Under Minister Ottley's visionary leadership, the Ministry of Health has already presented a 10-year strategic plan for addressing chronic diseases, the Multi-sectoral Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCD MAP) 2021-2030, which is a testament to the government's and Minister Ottley's commitment to improving healthcare in St. Maarten.
Notably, the questions presented on Tuesday afternoon came on the heels of statements made earlier during the day in Parliament by Minister Ottley who said he welcomed input from the public as the Ministry of Health continues to fine-tune Ottley Care.
Minister Ottley and his team invite the general public to continue sharing their concerns, suggestions, and questions regarding the Ottley Care (SAAHA). Ottley aims to ensure that every citizen's interests are considered and incorporated into the plan as it takes shape.
During a recent presentation to Members of Parliament, Minister Ottley reaffirmed his commitment to open dialogue, stating, "Today is a great day, and I am happy to have the opportunity to present this affordable healthcare act. This is about dialogue, not about forcing anything on anyone. We are actively seeking feedback and have sent the plan to stakeholders and the SER for review."
He also mentioned that despite initial resistance to the policy, the Ministry of Health is determined to continue to engage the community to gather feedback actively. In the absence of a response from the SER as they work to rebuild, the Ministry has expanded its research to receive more input from the community.
Minister Ottley remains dedicated to rolling out Ottley Care. He said he is happy to extend the timeline to ensure that SAAHA is inclusive, comprehensive, and aligned with the needs and aspirations of the people of St. Maarten.
Minister Ottley said in a press release issued Thursday evening, "While it is clear that a national healthcare plan is essential, it is equally evident that the plan must reflect the genuine interests and requirements of the public." Minister Ottley welcomes every voice in this vital discussion, and the Ministry of Health actively seeks community input.