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Sep 17, 2008

Dialysis programme at Health Partners at risk

For the second time this year, patients receiving free dialysis treatment courtesy of the government at Belize Healthcare Partners are on edge. That is because B.H.P. has written to the Ministry of Health saying that if an agreement is not reached between the two parties by October tenth, they will pull the plug on the government programme. According to Collet Montejo, P.R. Manager for B.H.P., they are not doing so out of malice, but rather in the best interest of their patients. He says they are bargaining with the government for a long-term commitment so that they can improve services to kidney patients, so no one will need to leave the country to seek treatment. Viewers will recall that earlier this year in January the former government signed a five-year agreement with the then Universal Health Services for a commitment of three hundred thousand dollars per month for medical services. But when the U.D.P. got into power in February, they promptly discontinued that agreement and instead began paying per patient for those already enrolled in the dialysis programme. Montejo says the lives of the twenty-three patients are at risk.

Collet Montejo, P.R. Manager, Belize Health Care Partners
“If we cannot come up to a formidable agreement with the government, then we will only provide what we are being paid for. That means that you guys cannot hold us hostage when there is not a nephrologist in place because that’s another thing we are saying; we don’t have a nephrologist. That means there’s no specialist that can really take care of us and manage our cases. So that is our concern. We are anticipating, like I heard Doctor Allen say yesterday, that we come to some kind of agreement, we continue these negotiations. It is very difficult but it’s all being done in the best interest of our patients. “

Jose Sanchez
“But at the end of the day it’s the patients whose lives are at risk if you cannot come up with an agreement with the government. Is that correct?”

Collet Montejo
“Well, we are aware of that and please, I must emphasize, we are thinking first of these patients and that is why we are making this move.”

Jose Sanchez
“If you have to cut your services short, how much dialysis treatments will you be able to afford for them?”

Collet Montejo
“At present we are providing a little over two hundred dialysis sessions a month and that’s another one of the fiasco’s that we are facing.”

Jose Sanchez
“So that would cut down to how many after October tenth?”

Collet Montejo
“After October tenth, our plans are to provide dialysis only to the paying patients.”

Jose Sanchez
“How much does the dialysis cost to the paying patient?”

Collet Montejo
“At the moment it’s six hundred and eighty dollars.”

Jose Sanchez
“So that’s six hundred and eighty. How often does a patient need that service?”

Collet Montejo
“It depends; some patients do dialysis once a week but some twice. But the maximum at present is three times a week.”

Montejo says they also want to perform kidney transplants and buy a mobile dialysis unit to get to patients who are unable to travel to Belize City. G.O.B. has publicly revealed that it is looking for cheaper alternatives to B.H.P. In May a bureaucratic slip-up briefly halted service to those patients, leaving them exposed to risks.


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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