POND ISLAND--The Ministry of Public Health has extended the existing moratorium on permits for healthcare institutions by another two years, until July 22, 2021. The moratorium first went into effect as of July 22, 2016, in the absence of the required legislation at that time.

  The two-year moratorium extension is deemed to not be unreasonable given the exceptional circumstances that required the extension, the limited period of time of the extension and the fact that there are exceptions to the moratorium in place, cited the decree.

  The extension has also resulted from the still required legislation to assess the need for healthcare institutions has not been finalized as yet, due to the impact of major hurricanes Irma and Maria, that passed in September 2017 and the related challenges and shift in priorities for the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, according to the ministerial decree published in the July 5 edition of the National Gazette (In Dutch: Landscourant). The decree was signed by Minister Emil Lee on May 28.

  The original moratorium was issued for three years, which was related to the time needed to develop the necessary legislation and policies to safeguard and regulate the availability of accessible and affordable quality health care.

  Due to the negative effects directly related to the passing of hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017, these projects concerning the development of legislation and policies experienced significant delays.

  The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour underwent serious challenges and experienced a shift in priorities related to the aftermath of the hurricanes. Directly related to those delays, it is necessary to extend the moratorium for another two years, in order for the essential legislation and policies to be finalized.

  Based on Article 3 of the National Ordinance on Healthcare Institutions, it is not permitted to build, renovate and operate a healthcare institution or perform other thereto related activities without a permit from the Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour.

  As of July 22, 2016, a moratorium was issued on these permits, because essential legislation (based on Article 7 of the National Ordinance on Healthcare Institutions to assess the permit requests has been lacking, which jeopardized an adequate and equitable assessment of the need on healthcare institutions, while ensuring quality, accessibility and affordability of the healthcare services.

  To ensure that already existing healthcare institutions would not be hampered in providing adequate services to the population, existing healthcare institutions were exempted, if their application would pertain to improving quality or accessibility of their services. Also locally established medical professionals who applied for a healthcare institution permit with an aim to establish a joint practice within their own medical field, were exempted, cited the elucidation to the decree.

  If the continuity of care would be in danger, the Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour would make an exception to the moratorium as well.