Ned-BIG vs Aru-BIG

When you go to see a doctor in Aruba, you know that he/she underwent the BIG-register certification in the Netherlands, upon graduation, and that they are professionally competent in the healthcare field.

The BIG-register also means that if you have international qualifications, having gone to school in the USA, Colombia, Costa Rica, or anywhere else, there are extra conditions imposed in order to obtain that coveted, top notch registration, and that you would be required to travel to the Netherlands, have your qualifications acknowledged, then pass whatever extra courses needed, providing you have sufficient command of the Dutch language, and then, upon completion of all obligations, you may use the title belonging to your profession, you may start practicing, and begin your specialist training.

All kids from Aruba who go to med-schools in the region know, before even packing their suitcases, that they will not be able to practice in their homeland, unless, post-graduation, they travel to the mother-patria to comply with the BIG-register demands, at the end of which they may be granted their LB, their permit to work here.

In the past few years we have been hearing gripes about that system. Well-connected kids graduating from regional med-schools whined it wasn’t far. And that the island must have some kind of Aru-BIG instituted to accommodate those who finished secondary-schools and wanted to practice their profession here.

(Fact: Top students head to the Netherlands for higher education. Average-plus students enroll in schools with less stringent requirements, in the area.)

This week we were told by the MinHealth that indeed an Aru-BIG is on the drawing board. We will be certifying our own healthcare professionals, and meanwhile a number of people in healthcare, already got the minister’s blessing, and are practicing.

I recently saw an ad for gynecological services, approved by the MinHealth.

What is the equivalent? Me starting to drive with an authorization from the MinTransport, without passing the official driving test. Or me operating a restaurant with a note from the MinHealth without passing any of the safety, and sanitation tests.

The MinHealth now considers the LB, his prerogative.

A local BIG it is indeed a good idea, in principle, and something developed counties have, such as the National Boards in the USA. We are fortunate to have the NED-BIG, which protects and supports the quality of healthcare here, and we have enjoyed good doctors in Aruba, for decades.

This new development, like everything in Aruba, is very political. If the MinHealth relaxes the certification process with the introduction of the Aru-BIG, he is about to please many potential voters. This will accommodate friends and family members, as a populist move.

In the past, every government said they would introduce an Aru-BIG, but they never did, because they knew that at least with Ned-BIG our doctors were well educated.

BOTTOMLINE: As a country we have enough issues with our healthcare system, and it doesn’t look like this minister is fixing any of it. So far the only fixing we see is permitting non-BIG doctors to practice. Our hospital is in serious trouble. But no real action is taken there. At least we don’t see it, and we hear the minister’s own representative on the hospital RvT board just resigned. We lost the two only competent members of that board.

Personally I think the MinHealth has his work cut out for him, sorting the hospital out, without messing with medical certifications.

Get us some qualified specialists, cut down the waiting time, conclude the construction of the hospital, clear all fraud cases, get rid of incompetent of management, sort out the thousands of PAP tests still hanging, tested / not tested.  Under normal circumstance we should have some people in jail for messing up our hospital. And the job satisfaction rate among doctors employed by hospital, is in the gutter.

The healthcare professionals I spoke to called the Aru-BIG scandalous and shameless.

So first things first, fix the hospital, then mess with certifications.

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January 09, 2020
Rona Coster