The launch of the Health Policy is part of the wider vision of Plan Belize and what will become the plan of action to “build a Belize that works for everyone.” The PUP has come up with solid and realistically achievable targets that will dramatically change the experience of healthcare in Belize. The National Health Insurance (NHI) became a pilot project on August 2001 in the Southside of Belize city, in 2006 it was also rolled out in the South of the country. The National roll out of this PUP project was put on hold under the UDP. It took nine years under the UDP for NHI to come to the Corozal District. The PUP has made a firm commitment that NHI must become available across the entire country in the first year of the new administration. The changes in the health system will not be superficial and cosmetic.
The PUP pledges that there will be increased accountability and transparency in the acquisition of inventory, administration and the services rendered by the NHI. The establishment of a Bill of Patient Rights and the formation of a Health Body to receive complaints and concerns and the ability to also assist and respond when patient’s rights have been compromised. There will also be legislative changes to update archaic laws within the medical act and the Ministry of Health, new legislation to provide for the separation of powers so that the Ministry of Health is the regulator, another independent body will procure services and purchase, and finally clinics and hospitals will become the service providers. This will be done to establish adequate checks and balances, ensure compliance and reduce costs and leaks of resources due to corruption and cronyism. Strict tendering processes will be instituted and enforced so that Belizeans will enjoy value and quality for money spent and the illicit enrichment currently enjoyed by a few will come to an end.
The PUP has pledged to improve the Emergency Room services countrywide. To this end they will seek to construct new hospitals in Punta Gorda and Belmopan, establish a proper community hospital in San Pedro Ambergris Caye and a sub specialty wing at the KHMH. The changes will not be limited to legislation and infrastructure, because the PUP is cognizant that empty buildings do not a health care system make. The PUP commits to increasing the ratio of nurses, physicians and specialists per capita. NHI providers will have improved assessment and there will be increased support for the accreditation of other health care providers.
Targets and plans of action are merely the means to an end. In this case, the end result that the PUP and Belizeans strive for are increased complete health and wellness, which includes mental health and emotional well-being. The establishment of a mental health care facility at the KHMH and the increased services will fill the gaping void that has too long existed in health services in our country. In an effort to empower Belizeans and educate them about best practices to promote healthy lifestyles, we must do so at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
Health and Education will work together to better the quality of life for all Belizeans by fostering a culture that will result in the lowering of obesity and malnutrition which in turn reduces non communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. This plan is comprehensive and seeks to bring together all the elements which will result in longer life expectancy, lower infant mortality rates, but most especially in a better quality of life for all Belizeans. In life we must ask if the end justifies the means…in the case of the current Health Policy before us…it does! #planBelize