Voice of the Common Man

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Hilly Bennett

HEALTH: THE NATION’S FUNDAMENTAL NATURAL RESOURCES

By Hilly Bennett

Unquestionably, the launch of the People’s United Party Health Policy on Wednesday August 26, 2020 is most important regarding the development of Belize and its citizenry. Especially, when considering the expressions by C David Jenkins Ph.D. in A HANDBOOK of BEHAVIORAL CHANGE – BUILDING BETTER HEALTH, “Health is the first and most important form of wealth. Health – the physical, mental, and social health of an entire population is a nation’s fundamental natural resources. If health is ignored or wasted, farms will wither, mines will close, factory engines will slow their production, families will breakup and children’s laughter will no longer be seen throughout the community. If health becomes only the province of the wealthy, that nation will have an ominous future. The poor will struggle for equity and, even the wealthy, by feeling isolated or disabled or in fear, will stop enjoying their riches.”

The United Democratic Party Government has ignored the importance of the healthcare system for twelve years as evidenced in the shutdown of the morgue in Dangriga and the deaths of thirteen little angels in the neonatal intensive care unit the most egregious amongst many UDP failures as stewards of the health care system. Subsequent to death of the neonates the World Health Organization and Pan American Health Organization made several recommendations regarding the handling of infectious diseases.

To illustrate a heedless administration here are three:

  1. Develop an Infection Prevention and Control Plan with annual goals, monitoring activities and hospital-wide communication strategy that are evaluated annually.
  2. Develop and implement a laboratory improvement plan that supports the IPC activities, quality control measures, public health surveillance and communication procedures among clinicians, Infection Control Committee (ICC) and Infection Prevention Control (IPC)
  3. Assign a qualified and experienced microbiologist as chief of the Central microbiology laboratory who should be the member if the ICC.

Imagine the possibilities in the climate of the present health crisis.

However, the Leader of the Opposition Honorable John Briceño in statesman-like fashion stated that  “we are not…dwelling on it, except to point out the failures and shortcomings of the present administration.”

The aspect of health is multi-layered and preceding the launch there were representations, collaboration, consultation, and contribution by a diverse team to render an inclusive document. The objective of the PUP was to achieve equity, affordability, accessibility and quality within the future of the health care system in the Jewel.

The policy component that pursues above-mentioned goals is the revisiting of the National Health Insurance, a noble initiative realized under a PUP Government in 2001 as a pilot project. The intention, embedded in the Policy, is to enhance NHI in three phases to include several areas of medical services that was not envisioned in the original plan. Notably, NHI has been severely wounded under this worthless, incompetent, corrupt UDP regime with most of the services being denied to the recipients today. The NHI will be expanded and enhanced under a People’s United Party Government. This health policy will achieve the long awaited vision of “equal health for all.” Notwithstanding, the objective of health for all was supposed to be achieved by the year 2000 and was considered the social goals of all Governments. This meant that health would be reachable by everyone in a given community.

The PUP is giving consideration to the health metrics and has focused on three core performance dimensions:

(1) Who is being served?

Pro-poor targeting, affordability, scale of the organization’s operations
(2) what is being delivered?

Health outputs. What types of products and services are being delivered?

(3) How’s it being delivered?

Clinical quality- what is the level of quality of services delivered?

The PUP is assuring a new charter to the health care system. Only under a new government, a People’s United Party Government, will the realization of “Health for All” will “see its sunrise.”