National Health Insurance Scheme Launched in Orange Walk District
The Briceno Administration has rolled out the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme in the Orange Walk District. Today, the Government of Belize, through the Social Security Board, signed contracts with the primary healthcare facilities and companies that will be providing the services to residents of Sugar City. The government has since pledged to expand the scheme, which is part of its promise to improve healthcare access and services. Prime Minister John Briceno explained that the recent move to utilize gaming revenues from the nightly boledo aids in that goal, but says more needs to be done.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “The Boledo alone is not going to be enough to finance NHI and we have to look at other avenues as to where we’re going to get the funding to ensure that the national health insurance will be sustainable and one of the easiest that come to mind is the issue of the sin taxes on the beer, the soft drinks, the liquor, cigarettes. I’m probably looking at gambling nationwide, the casinos, those one-hand bandits and which our Ministry of Investment is looking at using technology to be able to connect all of these machines to a central database so we could know exactly what are the revenues that are being generated and then for us to be able to collect what we should be getting and then that money can then be continued to be invested in the national health insurance. But this morning’s event brings us here in Orange Walk, brings us one step closer to meeting that goal of giving full coverage to every man, woman and child in Belize under NHI. And the plan is that next year we want to extend to the north side of Belize City and by the middle of 2024 we would begin the process of moving to the remaining district which is the Cayo district. I think there was a big fight between the CEO and the Minister of Health. The CEO wanted to take it first to Cayo but somehow the Minister of Health managed to convince the CEO to come to Orange Walk. So thank you for giving into that CEO. I had nothing to do with it. So I was just informed of what is taking place.”
Minister of Health Kevin Bernard explained that the NHI’s board has the role of ensuring providers adhere to conditions stipulated in the contractual arrangements. He highlighted the importance of providing of ensuring that everyday Belizeans have access to the services they need at an affordable cost.
Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “We are taking a significant step towards realizing this vision for the residents of the Orange Walk District, a region known for its industrious people, its beautiful landscapes, and now to be known for a healthcare revolution that will change lives. NHI’s program expansion to the Orange Walk District represents a promise fulfilled. A promise to ensure that basic health services are not out of reach for anyone, that illness does not lead to financial hardships, and that every citizen has the opportunity to live a healthy and productive life. Therefore, as we roll out NHI in this region, this will cover a comprehensive set of essential health services from preventative measures such as vaccination and screenings to critical care management for conditions like diabetes and hypertension. This program is not just about treating illness. It is about promoting overall wellness, preventing diseases, and ensuring early diagnosis and management of health conditions. The rollout of the NHI in Orange Walk District is a testament. to this government’s commitment to health equity. It echoes our pledge that no district, no community, no citizen will be forgotten or left behind. It is therefore our dedication towards ensuring that health access is universal, not just in policy, but in practice. Therefore, I want to take this opportunity again to assure every resident of the Orange Walk district that this rollout as highlighted by Dr. Mendez in her presentation has been meticulously planned. The team have worked tirelessly to ensure that the implementation is smooth and that the transition is seamless.”
The Social Security Board is the legal representative of NHI and is tasked with the responsibility of functional oversight for all NHI activities.