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Feb 28, 2023

Belize Lacks Psychosocial Support Services in Cases of Fatal RTAs

Last week, we reported on a double fatality as a result of a road traffic accident near the Beaver Dam Bridge in the Cayo District. And there have been reports of many other vehicular collisions and incidents involving motorcycles and loss of life that have been reported over the past year.  The Ministry of Transport in collaboration with the Belize Police Department, as well as the Road Safety Project has been working to reduce these occurrences and it has not been letting up. But how do survivors or the relatives of victims cope with the trauma caused by these accidents?  Today, the findings of a national consultation carried out by support from PAHO were shared with stakeholders. News Five’s Duane Moody reports. 


Duane Moody, Reporting

You’ve seen and heard the effects that fatal road traffic accidents have on the surviving victims, the perpetrators who have knocked down and killed someone and even the relatives and friends of those who have lost their lives so violently. The increasing number of accidents across the country, particularly on highways, is a trend that the Department of Transport has been grappling with for years.


Peter Williams

Peter Williams, Deputy Chief Transport Officer, Ministry of Transport (File: September 28th, 2023)

“We have been observing a trend over the past few years that of all the five pillars of road safety, two of the main pillars that we see contributing to road traffic collisions and fatalities are one, safe vehicle pillars and two, the driver behaviour pillar. What does that mean? Simply put, drivers on the road are not taking the necessary cautions and precautions to be able to reduce these fatalities on the road. Many of times, we find that drivers refuse to adhere to the rules of the road. They still choose to speed; they still choose to overtake around curves and hills and so on.”


And aside from the physical aspect of crashes, there is the emotional, psychological, and financial burden placed on families of crash victims and road trauma, which is a public health challenge. Today, the Pan American Health Organization presented the findings of a national consultation on the mental health and psychological support services available for victims and families.


Zane Castillo

Zane Castillo, Project Manager, Road Safety Project II

“The traumatic experience that they go through after that incident. Sometimes they lose family members; so it is not only to survivors, but also to their family members. Many of times the ones that they lost are the breadwinners. So it provides a mental strain on the surviving family to cope with the loss of that loved one, the breadwinners. What they will do to close that gap – it provides a mental stress on them to think of where the finances will come from to pay the bills and to provide for the family.”


Among the findings were that there is a lack of data providing information about the services that are accessed by victims and families. There is also limitation in human health resources, knowledge and infrastructure to provide additional services, Belize does not have a post-crash plan and there is a need for training for all frontline personnel on mental health and psychosocial support services. Today’s session engaged various stakeholders, including members of the Department of Transport and the Belize Police Department.


Zane Castillo

“They conducted a survey in Belize a few months ago trying to determine the level of training that mental health and the health providers have in terms of training to provide services to victim of road traffic incidents and their families. So several surveys were conducted countrywide and now they are presenting their findings. It clearly shows that Belize is severely lacking in this type of support service.”


PAHO recommends that an emergency care system assessment is conducted, that there is capacity building of frontline workers, that a road traffic incident focal point is established and that there is a mental health and psycho-social support service coordinating body established. Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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