Citizens of Of Antigua and Barbuda and those from other countries that are part of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) will now have easier access to medical facilities in the French islands Martinique and Guadeloupe following the signing of an agreement in St Lucia.
The three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by OECS director general Dr Didacus Jules, and the general director of the General Social Security Fund of Guadeloupe (CGSS), Henri Yacou.
Jules said the agreement will address the administrative, logistical and financial barriers that nationals from the OECS face when accessing health services in the French Departments in the Eastern Caribbean.
He told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that it will also facilitate the exchange of information and capacity building in an effort to support the development of regional approaches to health services and the portability of health benefits backed by adequate health insurance.
Jules said that the OECS are very aware of the exorbitant costs associated with extra-regional travel for medical care.
“As a result, the Commission has been actively seeking to create linkages with our French neighbours to expand access to specialised healthcare within the region and this agreement with the CGSS in Guadeloupe is a materialisation of these efforts. We look forward to deepening areas of cooperation in the years ahead.”
Yacou said he was pleased to be party to an agreement which seeks to help the vulnerable by affording them easier access to healthcare which might not be available in their homeland.
“I sincerely wish that this project will facilitate the free movement of citizens of the OECS to access health care in the best conditions possible,” he noted.
The CGSS is presently working on a plan for a pilot project with a French health insurance company that will allow for unique identification numbers and a financially and legally secure partnership with hospital establishments of Guadeloupe, Martinique and St Martin.
The OECS groups the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts-Nevis, Anguilla, Montserrat, and the British Virgin Islands.
Martinique became an Associate Member State of the OECS on February 4, 2015