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May 25, 2023

K.H.M.H. Workers Union Questions New $90M Hospital in Belmopan

Shyne Barrow

The Briceño administration’s plan to build a ninety million dollar health facility in Belmopan is being met with concern, as well as serious criticism from various corners, including the K.H.M.H. Workers Union.  The tertiary care hospital boasts a capacity of one hundred and fifty beds and will be financed through a loan from the Saudi Fund for Development.  Last Friday, Prime Minister John Briceño, during the sitting of the House of Representatives, said that the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital can no longer meet the increasing demands at the national and regional levels.  While he was pleased to mention that the loan which carries a concessionary rate of two percent is the result of diplomatic relations between Belize and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the idea for a new hospital is being called to question by the K.H.M.H.W.U.  Earlier today, the union issued a press release indicating that there is a serious shortage of nurses and doctors at the K.H.M.H.  As it stands, the national referral hospital is operating with fewer nurses and doctors and the Ministry of Health and Wellness has been unable to address the unavailability.  According to the release, despite the vision of the K.H.M.H. including future expansion of the facility, in its twenty-eight years of existence, the hospital has been unable to realize its full potential due to political interference. Coupled with a shortage of medical personnel, the public health sector has also been lacking services such as physiotherapy, laboratory technicians, medical and nursing services, as well as basic supplies and equipment.  To that point, the union asks where the technological and human resources will be drawn from, considering the present situation at the K.H.M.H.  The question is also being asked whether the decision taken by government is to undermine the K.H.M.H. The ninety million dollars, says the K.H.M.H.W.U., can be invested in other areas of healthcare, including capacity building for nursing education, hemo-dialysis, oncology, cardiology and accident and emergency services.  The money, says the union, can also be used to create retention strategies for nurses, upgrade the ambulance fleet and increase human resources.  In response to the Prime Minister’s announcement last Friday, Opposition Leader Shyne Barrow objected to the ninety million dollar loan being used to construct a new hospital.


Shyne Barrow, Leader of the Opposition (File: May 19th, 2023)

“We live in a country where our public health facility, KHMH, Southern Regional, Western Region, Northern Region, does not even have the minimum essential equipment items needed to treat patients and we as a government is going to barrow ninety million dollars to build a hundred and ten bed facility, to do what? We need to invest to in public health care facilities that we currently have madam speaker. That is what the people of Belize and the medical practitioners are crying for madam speaker. You cannot convince me that you are going to do anything more than give that contract to one of your cronies and build a building that sits and do nothing. Fix the problem we have at K.H.M.H., fix the problem that we have at the other public health facilities. We have a public health facility right here in Belmopan. Why not get the money and invest in what we have. This government is like a “rock head” government.”

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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