Under ordinary circumstances it would be ‘silly season’ in full mode in Belize. A general election is less than three months away and politicians are forced to scale back on their political propaganda, paraphernalia and house to house campaigns. For the opposition party, the PUP, they have been fleshing out their manifesto in various areas. Today they presented their plans and promises for the health sector. The blue and white camp has taken on a different style of doing things and instead of the media asking the questions, the PUP had the Leader of the Opposition questioning the experts while its Standard Bearers presented the list of changes to come if the PUP should win the next election. Among those promises are the addition of a psychiatric ward to the KHMH as well as the NHI and mobile clinics. Of course, there was the injection of individual campaigns as you will see in the following excerpt.
Dr.Candice Pitts, PUP Standard Bearer for Mesopotamia: “The PUP will create the first psychiatric ward at the KHMH. People from communities such as Mesopotamia continue to hurt. We continue to suffer from violence and all kinds of traumas that affect and influence our emotional and mental health. We must take mental health seriously and so we are grateful that the PUP is earnestly and effectively addressing this social and national issue evidenced in the creation of this psychiatric ward.
As we roll out our plan Belize one of the things I’m very excited about is the National Health Insurance scheme. It’s a beautiful beautiful scheme that will help all Corozalenos. Take for example walking the streets, one of the basic things people ask me “How can we make the laboratory at Corozal Health better ? How can we make the imaging facilities better? The NHI, when rolled out will take care of all of these things.
Hon. Kareem Musa, Caribbean Shores: “This new Blue plan will bring down the high prices of medication. I believe all residents of Caribbean Shores should get a yearly basic health checkup. A real and urgent NHI roll out can make a huge impact for our healthcare needs. An amazing feature about the PUP health plan is for mobile clinics where healthcare would come to the homes of our most vulnerable. I will advocate strongly for mental health programs and services across Belize. This is an area that we must work together in schools and in neighborhoods to confront this need. I am confident that a new PUP government will work aggressively as a team to confront the retched COVID-19 pandemic. My mom, Joan Musa, is a nurse. I grew up learning that empathy, love and concern for others is the strongest medicine. She served in the old Belize City Hospital and then in the early 1980’s collaborating with people like hero Philip Goldson, Mr.William Fonseca and Joan Samuels to provide services to the visually impaired. She has been doing this for over fifty years. My wife Carla continues in the beautiful tradition of NGO healthcare as the director of the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired. So I have daily reminders of the urgency of healthcare in our lives. I ask the residents to read our healthcare plan Belize because I know everybody fi win. Todos ganamos. It is time to rise.”
Seasoned politician and former Government Minister Dolores Balderamos Garcia spoke on the corruption in the current administration as well as the PUP’s health policy on the National Health Insurance scheme. Speaking for Belize Rural South was the party’s Standard Bearer Andre Perez.
Dolores Balderamos, Belize Rural Central: There’s too much nepotism, cronyism and corruption and there is less than adequate – much less than adequate health services for our people. Now ladies and gentlemen the NHI, the National Health Insurance was rolled- conceived actually and then rolled out by a People’s United Party government on the principle of solidarity; those who have more will contribute so that those who have less will be able to have access to this most basic need and human right and our health policy today pledges that we will make sure that the NHI covers our entire country. Today I want to ask all of us to look carefully and to support our health policy so that going forward we can have a better Belize.
Andre Perez, Standard Bearer, Belize Rural South: “A health facility for the residents of San Pedro a part of my constituency is a big deal and personally something I have advocated for. San Pedro and Caye Caulker are one of the largest revenue earners in the nation and yet our hardworking residents have been left out of NHI and left our of basic health facilities like a proper poly clinic. And for sure a program that will address the problems of mental health in our nation is a big deal. These are only a few of the list initiatives that make up our plan to fulfilling our promises that was laid out in our Belizean bill of rights that everyone has a right to adequate healthcare.”
Julius Espat’s input on the health plan for the PUP focused primarily on the rural communities and the plan to have health facilities readily available.
Hon. Julius Espat, Area Representative, Cayo South: “It is important that our villages get access to clinics. It is important that our healthcare workers get a minimum wage at least, presently they receive a hundred dollars a month stipend which is unacceptable. It is important that the clinic be staffed and it is important that the clinics have the necessary equipment to be able to deal with the issues that affect our villagers. We have examples in the rural communities when a person gets a snake bite for example, something that happens every day, the person basically does not have access to the Western Regional Hospital in the Cayo district for example and in the other regional hospitals if they are in Punta Gorda or other situations like that so it is important that our community health workers are there, they’re properly equipped and they are properly financed so that they can be there to address the issues. How will this help our national health policy ? Well it relieves the stress that is being presently put on our regional hospitals because if you can take care of your foundation, if you can take care of the needs of the people in their respective villages then there will be less need for them to be transferred for example in the Cayo district to the Western Regional Hospital or in the Toledo District to the Southern Regional Hospital. It is a very good thing that that I think has been proposed here, I think lots of professionals have been putting in their time and now that we are off the understanding and we know that NHI will be rolled out all of this can fall into place quite easily.”