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Jun 28, 2001

N.H.I. comes under fire from within

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The much touted N.H.I. pilot project, most recently scheduled to start on Monday, July second, has once again been put off. A Social Security Board press release stated that southside Belize District residents will be able to access primary care from four clinics. However, two of them, the Belize Family Life Association, on Central American Boulevard and Integral Health Care on Gibnut Street, are still under construction and not yet ready to treat patients. If that news wasn’t bad enough for the often delayed project, N.H.I. was dealt a heavy political blow by Tourism Minister and southside representative, Mark Espat. Speaking at Wednesday’s opening of the Wesley Healing Centre in the presence of Health Minister Jose Coye, Espat urged caution in the implementation of one of his own government’s pet projects.

Mark Espat, Area Rep., Albert Division

“Belize is engrossed in a dynamic process of health reform much spoken about but little understood. “I di try N.H.I.” scream the radio ads, championing the proposed National Health Insurance scheme. In just a few days the so called pilot project of the National Health Insurance scheme will commence on the southside of the Belize District.

The proposed N.H.I. places us symbolically between the devil and the deep blue sea. On the one hand is the deep blue see of people’s discontent with the inefficiencies and historical mistakes of government run hospitals and clinics. On the other hand is the devil of profit centred private sector health care providers, who wish to maximise revenues and obtain a return on their investments first and foremost. The motivation of the N.H.I. should be no different than the motivation of the ordinary working family of Belize; to do what it can afford. Let us cautiously commit to a programme that will benefit the many Belizeans rather than rush to one that will benefit but a few.”

News 5 contacted Social Security’s public relations consultant Martha Hendrikx, only to find out that they don’t even know when the N.H.I. pilot scheme will start. According to Hendrikx, the Social Security Board and Ministry of Health are still only counting down, hoping that enough Belizeans will register for them to start the programme.

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