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Jun 25, 2008

Minister of Health outlines healthcare activities and success

Story PictureThis afternoon Minister of Health Pablo Marin, flanked by his C.E.O. and Directors of Health Services, presented his ministry’s report card of activities and projects since taking office in February. According to Marin, his government’s vision is for a health system in which Belizeans have access to efficient and affordable health care. As such, G.O.B. has invested a hundred thousand dollars in new equipment, is building partnerships with hospitals in the United States to secure tertiary care and has initiated acute mental healthcare at the K.H.M. H. There are also plans to replace the Rockview Hospital with a community-based programme. And while health C.E.O. Peter Allen told the media that they are submitting a budget of eight million dollars for capital projects, what they don’t have the funds for is the countrywide rollout of the National Health Insurance.

Pablo Marin, Minister of Health
“Normally we only have six million dollars for the N.H.I. program to run in the southside and in the south of Belize. We need about thirty million for us to run this programme all around the nation. We don’t have that money right now. As you all know, the way we encounter our country, we still have many debts to pay. That doesn’t mean we stop it. There was a channel that was say we stopped all the programmes and that is not true. The system is still running around. We are finding the solution.”

Dr. Peter Allen, C.E.O., Ministry of Health
“Right now, with the assistance of the IDB, the Inter-American Development Bank, we are conducting a review of our possible alternatives for the finances that would be required for the N.H.I. to be raised. Also, we are looking at the different alternatives of actually providing the different services from the model that we have on Belize City, which is an urban model to the model that we have in the south, which is a rural model. Those deliberations are expected to be completed by the fifteenth of July I think. If the consultant is read, then what we would expect is that the proposals would be presented to Cabinet by the end of July.”

The Ministry of Health is also exploring its options for cheaper dialysis treatments and is looking specifically at Chetumal. Marin reported that twenty-five persons are currently receiving dialysis treatment at Belize Healthcare Partners at a cost of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars per month.

One direction in which the Ministry is definitely looking to head is in the area of technological advancements. Aside from the implementation of a national computerised health system, the Dangriga Hospital has been outfitted with a Telehealth link, which according to Dr. Allen has incredible potential for the country.

Dr. Peter Allen
“What it is, is it’s a real time link for any digital information, whether that is imagery or visual information or audio. We can conduct real time virtual consultations with some subspecialists in New York. We can conduct continuous medical education sessions with universities in any part of the world. We can use digitised images for CAT-Scans and for ultrasounds and for x-rays so that we can send those images for full reports and comprehensive reports to be written for our patients. We can begin to think about using digital microscopes to read slides and have those images sent anywhere in the world because part of our challenge in the healthcare system is that we don’t have radiologists in every hospital, we don’t have pathologists in every hospital and we don’t have neurosurgeons or sub-specialists in every hospital and yet from time to time you need that service in each hospital. With B.T.L. we have been able to establish voice over internet protocol link with one meg connections to allow broadband facilities, first in Dangriga, with the commitment that if we can continue to prove the value of this technology, that they will assist us in linking up every hospital in this country with the same technology.”

Today the Ministry of Health also introduced its website

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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