Successful 1st 'Future of Healthcare in the Caribbean Netherlands' conference

On Wednesday the 19th and Thursday the 20th of June 2024, Care & Youth Caribbean Netherlands (ZJCN) organised the first 'Future of Healthcare in the Caribbean Netherlands' conference. The conference, which was followed both live on Bonaire and online, brought together chain partners and stakeholders in order to discuss the unique healthcare challenges and opportunities in the Caribbean Netherlands. Several experts shared their insights on topics like equivalent healthcare, the future of the healthcare system, and digitalisation. Workshops and field trips to healthcare institutions were also organised to discuss and improve the quality and accessibility of care.

Conferentie Toekomst van de zorg in Caribisch Nederland

The conference took place following the final report 'The Caribbean Netherlands - Health System Review', conducted by the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. The report offers a detailed overview of the current state of healthcare in the Caribbean Netherlands, the results achieved since 2010, and the necessary improvements to lift the healthcare to the level of the European Netherlands. The report can be found here.

By organising the healthcare conference, ZJCN brings together chain partners and stakeholders in order to discuss opportunities and challenges in healthcare. The Caribbean Netherlands faces unique healthcare challenges. The island nature, in addition to actual backlogs in healthcare, entails specific needs and vulnerabilities. Moreover, health issues, health literacy, perception, and expectations of healthcare differ from those in the European Netherlands.


The conference brought together various experts to share their insights on topics like equivalent healthcare, the future of the healthcare system, and digitalisation. They jointly discussed how to ensure the quality and accessibility of healthcare in a sustainable way. Among the speakers were Tie Tjee, Senior Adviser Strategic Network Leadership, and Jamiu Busari, paediatrician at Horacio Oduber Hospital, professor at Ontario Tech University in Canada, and associate professor at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Commissioners Nina Den Heyer (Bonaire), Reuben Merkman (St. Eustatius), and Eviton Heyliger (Saba) were also present and shared their valuable experiences and insights.


Besides the inspiring speakers, several workshops were held, including 'The Future of Healthcare', 'Digitalisation', and 'The Health Systems in Transition (HiT)'. During the HiT workshops, Ewout van Ginneken and Nathan Shuftan explained the findings of the final report in detail. In addition, field trips were organised to various healthcare institutions on Bonaire, including the hospital Fundashon Mariadal.

Cooperation & equivalence important themes

An important conclusion is that cooperation between the islands and with chain partners represents an essential element to continue improving healthcare together. Equivalence was also a recurring theme. Among other things, it was discussed whether healthcare in the Caribbean Netherlands should be equivalent to that of the European Netherlands. On this, one participant said the following: ''We should not focus on equivalence compared to the European Netherlands but strive for the best possible healthcare for our islands''.

With a fine turnout that included a broad representation of chain partners from the Caribbean Netherlands, CuraƧao, Aruba, and St. Maarten, together we look back at a successful first edition.