St. Lucia and Martinique have long held ties in various areas of expertise, including health. The French Isle, which is 15mins away via plane has provided St. Lucia with major assistance particularly in the area of health care.
A delegation met with officials from the Ministry of Health recently in an effort to further strengthen ties. A health mission from the Martinique Health University visited St. Lucia for three days in November.
The formal visit allowed for first time introductions since the installation of St. Lucia’s new government, as well as to meet the new team of the Health Ministry.
Minister for Health, Wellness and elderly Affairs expressed gratitude for collaborations past and those to come, as they work towards preparing a new program of medical cooperation between the two nations
“This cooperation is very special to us. We know that there are several challenges, especially in relation to the cooperation in health there are several challenges. And there have been stops and starts and stops and starts and difficulties along the way. And I want to tell you that our Prime Minister is very interested in resetting this relationship,” said Moses Jn. Baptiste – Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs.
The health minister says cooperation between the two health sectors will also include training for health sector workers.
“We want to recommence this training program where nurses from the St. Jude Hospital would attend the hospital in Martinique training. But we want to ensure our people especially those who require emergency medical care, we want to ensure there is a seamless operation between St. Lucia and Martinique,” Jn Baptiste said.
Director of Cooperation, Martinique University Hospital Christiane Bourgeois says relations extend much further than hospital services.
Christiane Bourgeois – Director of Cooperation, Martinique University Hospital
“We cooperate of course by managing patient. We welcome patients on transfer from St. Lucia to our facilities. But we also cooperate about research to set common protocols. Also to define policies, prevention policies. Example for Non-Communicable Disease,” Bourgeois said.
Bourgeois hopes that ties within the sector can become even stronger, possibly setting up an international health pathway between the two islands to allow easier data sharing and transportation among other things.
“What we would like is that the cooperation become like the first way to take care of the same population. Because population go back and forth, it’s easier for patients to take the boat and to go to Martinique than to be really sure that we are properly caring the patient. So my expectation is that we can create connectivity between the two islands,” Bourgeois added.
The delegations also visited the OECS and the new French Ambassador to St. Lucia.