Belizean Health Minister Attends World Health Assembly

Belizean Health Minister Attends World Health Assembly

Belize’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Kevin Bernard, has joined his peers from multiple nations at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.  The 9-day event began on Sunday with a wide range of health issues on the agenda.  According to Minister Bernard, two of the main topics at the assembly is mental health and pandemic preparedness. 

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “Belize has a part to play in this and of course we are a member state and so we need to make our contributions because whatever resolutions are made, whatever decisions are made it trickles down to the decisions that are carried out within the different countries throughout the region. The theme is “Saving lives, driving health for all” and based on that theme they would look at some key critical areas or components and one of them is pandemic preparedness and emergency help response. Noncommunicable diseases is also another main issue being discussed. As you know that exists all over the place mental health being part of that, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, global warming, climate change and in terms of health how does that impact health in your country, in your region and in the world ? It’s also a topic that is being discussed. We also I know on the agenda there are items that have to do with mother child adolescent health. We also have the issue of universal health coverage how are we going to attain universal health coverage, what support is WHO doing in terms of their branch within the PAHO organization how are they supporting the regions? How are they supporting the country and what are the countries’ strategy in terms of addressing and trying to reach universal health coverage like in the case of Belize what we have to highlight what are the things that we are doing as well and what we expect from this world health assembly to really come up in terms of procedures, policies that will help to guide countries and strategies that and then put out. And then of course there are other areas in terms of the international health regulations that they are looking at.” 

Other issues that are being tabled during the assembly include mother, child and adolescent health as well as universal health coverage.  Minister Bernard told Love News that having Belize represented at events such as this assembly provides opportunities and networking with other countries and agencies that could lend support to Belize in achieving its health goals.

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “But what is important is we participate in these events, in these very important- if we don’t participate we are left out. If we don’t bring our voice to these decisions then decisions are made on our behalf. We need to know when decisions are made, resolutions are passed has implications on all of us as countries and so we have to participate in those discussions, we have to put in our inputs we have to say where we feel that WHO or PAHO is falling short not to say that that is happening but at the same time we want to offer our commitment as countries as well in terms of attaining universal health coverage, attaining reduction in and making sure for example and Belize where we are at the point to be declared Malaria free we are being assessed right now where we are very much to be eliminated from mother to child transmission of HIV so those are things that we have to come and speak about. But you asked the right question as well what are some other things that we do here. There is a lot of networking that is done. We are able to meet with other organizations for example tomorrow I have meeting with the Global Fund and remember the Global Fund also helped with programs within our region, within our countries whether through financial support, whether through technical support, whether through support with other health aspects so these are things that we talk about. We also attended a forum, a discussion on mental health just solely on mental health and so there have been various meetings after meetings. These are really working meetings and so you’re not just sitting in one room you move from one place to the next having discussions, having meetings trying to build those networks, speaking on behalf of your country and what to expect for your country and how bigger countries help to assist with some of the challenges faced.” 

Minister Kevin Bernard is accompanied by his Chief Executive Officer, Julio Sabido

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