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Feb 27, 2003

Ground broken for new psych unit at K.H.M.H.

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Traditionally, mental health care in Belize has been an issue scarred by images of “crazy” people locked off from society, first at Sea View and more recently at Rock View. Determined to change that mentality, this afternoon Minister of Health Jose Coye and Prime Minister Said Musa presided over the ceremonial ground breaking for a new acute psychiatric wing at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. According to Coye, the new facility will help thousands of Belizeans get the help they badly need.

Jose Coye, Minister of Health

“What we are doing now is building the acute psychiatric clinics throughout the country. We had the first one in Belmopan, which a great help came from the Japanese. But we wanted to put up one at the national referral hospital, the Karl Heusner. That one is coming from the reform funding for the health system from the I.D.B. in this case. So we’re putting that acute psychiatric clinic here, so that we can have rehabilitative therapy and arrest the trend of the mental problem so that they do not go into that chronic stage. This is a major improvement for us because that aspect of health was never really seen as health quite frankly until when we came into office and we knew it was necessary to address it. It was inhumane, it was barbaric, very uncivilised to treat our people that way. So I think that one of the first things we are doing in the rehabilitation, apart from what we have done at Karl Heusner so far in terms of the physical structure and the medical equipment, we are putting on a special wing now for that acute psychiatric clinic.”

Janelle Chanona

“How big of a problem is mental health. Are there a lot of Belizeans affected by this at one stage or another?”

Jose Coye

“Well, I’ve heard it said before that there are more outside here than they are inside. Sometimes is goes as a joke and perhaps it’s a figure of speech, hyperbolic figure of speech. The truth about it is that there are many of our people, who if being given the treatment, will not go to that stage. And as been cited, the anxieties and stresses of life are there and if you cannot get the counselling and treatment needed, you will fall and relegate to that stage.”

Construction on the new wing at the K.H.M.H. is set to start in March. It is budgeted to cost six hundred and thirty-two thousand dollars. The Prime Minister also announced plans for the construction of a modern mental health facility in the nation’s capital that will replace Rock View.

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