The Minister of Health seems to have inordinate difficulty in identifying the genuine priorities of the health care system in Belize. In case he missed it, we would like to point out that the recent outbreak of Dengue poses a real and urgent threat to the health and productivity of Belizeans. Some of the symptoms of Dengue are running a high temperature, pain, nausea, vomiting and rash, easily confused by the Minister of Health with the symptoms of love. We are sure that as a newlywed it must be tough to suffer love in times of Dengue but we hope for the sake of the nation that he can pay keen attention to the crisis at hand. The Office of the Director of Health Services has confirmed 1,764 cases and rising of this latest outbreak, with 215 registered cases in one week alone. Of those cases there are about 57 cases which have been classified as severe. The DHS calls for continued community engagement in the prevention and elimination of mosquito breeding
The DHS should be calling on the Minister of Health. Already the public health systems of other Central American countries are buckling under the weight of the sheer numbers of people afflicted with Dengue, seeking medical attention. The cost of this preventable vector-borne illness to our public health system to date is unknown. It is imperative that the Ministry of Health implements a plan of action to prevent and mitigate the spreading of Dengue.
In an effort to assist we have a list of suggested alternative actions he could be taking in light of the looming Dengue Crisis. There must be a public awareness campaign focused on engaging community assistance in reducing mosquito larval habitats. Other key messages must include facts versus myths and information on the spreading of the disease. The use of repellent and other protective measures especially when travelling to areas where dengue is prevalent. There must also be information on symptoms of the disease, and the advice to seek prompt medical attention. The Ministry of Health can enact legislature, like in Queensland for instance, that makes it an offence for households and businesses to allow mosquito breeding grounds on their premises and gives local government authority to enforce. Another area that needs to be addressed is vector control, and begging Mexico again to lend us equipment temporarily is not a permanent solution.
The MOH seems as determined as a “jankrow” to scavenge every last dollar to award in bloated contracts. A few weeks ago he came under heavy fire for going after the NHI reserves hoping to award the contract of a new medical stores building to a crony. Apparently the Minister was not aware of legislature which limits the uses of the NHI reserves.
The measures we outlined come under the scope of the Natural Disaster Fund of the BSSB which had $1.5M at the end of 2018. There is also an additional $600K in the Social Security Board Development Fund that can in this case be used for specific projects that include public awareness and education. We hope that this information will be used appropriately and not as a windfall for yet another bloated contract. The SSB paid out over 1M back in 2017 when the “pink eye” hit. There was incredible loss to our country in terms of productivity, payout of benefits and the cost to our public health system. If used wisely these funds can mitigate the effects of Dengue on our citizens and economy so the same will not happen now. Our resources must be used for the greater good and benefit of our Belizean citizens, and never for the personal enrichment of a few scavengers and parasites. #nojankrow