Belize and Taiwan sign MOU for San Pedro Hospital
Wednesday, January 11th, 2023
On Wednesday, January 11th, residents of San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, saw the historic signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Governments of Belize and the Republic of China (Taiwan) for the construction of the island’s first general hospital. Prime Minister of Belize, the Honourable Dr. John Briceño, signed on behalf of the government, while Taiwanese Ambassador His Excellency David Kuan-Chou Chien signed on behalf of his country, which will provide the funding for the hospital’s construction through a grant.
A ground-breaking ceremony will occur in the next few months south of San Pedro Town on the land where it will be constructed. The San Pedro General Hospital is said to be a state-of-the-art healthcare facility, made possible through a $33 million grant from Taiwan. During the event on Wednesday, Taiwan was lauded for its generous cooperation with Belize and for helping San Pedranos with the much-needed health facility.
The MOU signing ceremony was presided over by the Ministry of the Blue Economy and Civil Aviation Chief Executive Officer Kennedy Carrillo and blessed with an invocation by Father Eduardo Montemayor. Immediately after, Area Representative Honourable Andre Perez delivered the welcome remarks to a large audience at the Lions Den on Barrier Reef Drive.
Perez reflected on the countless times islanders must travel to the mainland and even across the border to Mexico for medical emergencies. He said emergencies could have been treated on the island if the island had been equipped with a hospital. “In our Plan Belize, promises are kept, and today one of those promises is being fulfilled. This promise was made over and over in the past, but today, our government is making it a reality for the residents of San Pedro. As every Belizean, our Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker communities deserve optimum health services,” he said. Perez added that as the prime tourism destination in the country, a hospital for Ambergris Caye is imperative.
The Minister of Health and Wellness, the , agreed that access to proper healthcare is one of their concerns when travelers choose destinations. “A hospital in San Pedro will boost the island and further attract more tourists,” said Bernard. “But besides tourists, we have a large local population on the island, and our people deserve better healthcare,” he said. Bernard committed to working closely with the Office of the Prime Minister to coordinate the running of the hospital and make the necessary resources and staff available after its construction. According to Bernard, the San Pedro General hospital will provide quality healthcare, and islanders will not need to rush off the island for every emergency.
Taiwanese Ambassador Chien acknowledged that Ambergris Caye is far from the mainland, and islanders and tourists have always faced the challenge of limited medical services. He said Taiwan has supported the building and managing of medical facilities and is ready to help Belize. “We have joined with the Government of Belize for the construction project of the San Pedro hospital. This not only manifests the rock-solid relations between both countries, but it is also a promise by our President, Dr. Tsai Ing-wen, that Taiwan can help its allies,” said the ambassador.
Prime Minister Briceño added that the MOU signing is one step closer to delivering the most anticipated hospital for San Pedranos. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our special friend,” he said as he referred to Ambassador Chien and his government. “The population of San Pedro has increased, resulting in the need for the island to expand its public health facility once again from a polyclinic to now a general hospital.” Prime Minister Briceño pointed out that although the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II has expanded its services over the years, San Pedranos require more medical services as the population grows.
The ceremony ended with the vote of thanks delivered by Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez and the official signing of the MOU by Prime Minister Briceño and Ambassador Chien. The upcoming hospital will include housing for doctors and nurses. According to Briceño’s team, the hospital will be completed within two years.
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