Published On: Tue, Nov 6th, 2018

Physical therapists collaborate within the Kingdom

Physical therapyPHILIPSBURG - The physical therapy associations of Curaçao, Aruba, St. Maarten and The Netherlands signed a Memorandum of Understanding during the Spinal Cord Injury Congress 2018 in Curaçao in September. The goal is to improve collaboration between the different countries regarding the profession of physical therapy.

During a meeting, the presidents of the three Caribbean associations – Gerold Brandon (Curaçao), Marlon Maduro (Aruba) and Peter Prinsen (St. Maarten) – together with board members, advisors and the quality and policy manager of the Dutch physical therapy association Koninklijk Nederlands Genootschap voor Fysiotherapie (KNGF), Edith van der Bent, agreed to collaborate on important topics, such as quality and assurance of paramedical care.

Prinsen shared his thoughts on this effort with Health and Beauty recently. “This is an important step forwards and fits within the collaboration agreement of the Public Health Ministries of the four countries, which earlier this year signed a ministerial cooperation agreement that prioritizes strategic collaboration between the countries on different objectives to improve public health.

“The presidents from the three Dutch Caribbean Islands have the opinion that quality requirements for the physical therapists should be the same for the CAS and BES islands. At this moment, the formulated quality requirements are poorly regulated and are organized differently for each island. The associations aim to improve the quality of paramedical care by making shared quality agreements and work together towards a common Caribbean quality register for the physical therapists. This was one of the topics the Caribbean associations discussed with the Dutch association KNGF.”

The KNGF represents most of the physical therapists in The Netherlands and is responsible for the management of the quality register. To set up a quality register for the physical therapists in the Caribbean with the help of the Dutch association would be challenging; but – in the eyes of the associations – not impossible. The associations emphasize that collaborating with stakeholders such as public health workers and insurance companies, in the social or private sectors, is necessary to achieve these goals. Every individual association will work on that within their own country in the coming period.

Prinsen continued: “As paramedics, we like to improve our quality of care and hope to lead by example, but some quality requirements are not always realistic and may not be achievable. We have had some negative experiences with implementing regulations formulated in The Netherlands and used in the Caribbean without adjustments. That’s why the associations would like to use this MOU to collaborate, sharing information and thereby formulating realistic and acceptable quality requirements which are achievable for the physical therapists within the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. We are very happy that the Dutch association elected to assist us to make sure that the quality standards are assured and that our patients receive a high standard of care, on the same level as in The Netherlands, for example.”

Besides working on quality regulations, there are different topics to mention in which physical therapists can be involved. The Public Health Ministers of the four countries made agreements to collaborate on the preventive care programs and education of healthcare professionals and to work together on programs to stimulate healthy lifestyle, sports and exercise. These are all topics where the physical therapists can play a leading role.

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