Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Belize implements Phase Two of the Road Safety Project with one of the First Inter-programmatic Consultations for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support for Victims in the Region

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To improve the quality of mental health and psychosocial support services (MHPSS) for victims of road accidents and their families, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and the Government of Belize with financial support from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) conducted a consultation with multiple representatives from key ministries, stakeholders, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
As one of the first consultations with an inter-programmatic approach to occur in the region, a collaborative and intersectoral effort was key. Therefore, representatives from the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW), Ministry of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Department of Transport, Municipal Traffic Department, PAHO/WHO, and NGOs came together to map existing services, identify gaps and build capacity that will strengthen the quality, effectiveness, and sustainability of post-crash MHPSS interventions and care.
“In response to the extent and impact of road traffic deaths and nonfatal injuries, PAHO has provided technical cooperation and has developed guidelines and interventions to support countries in addressing this public health concern,” said Ms. Alondra Izaguirre, National Consultant for NCDs (Non-Communicable Diseases) at PAHO/WHO Belize. “Through intersectoral coordination and collaboration, countries including Belize can work to improve their road safety legislation and interventions to create a safer, more accessible, and sustainable environment for transport systems as well as for all road users.”
In response to the extent and impact of road traffic deaths and injuries in the country, PAHO/WHO and the Ministry of Economic Development signed a technical cooperation agreement for a consultancy to address MHPSS in April 2022. Since then, Belize has been implementing this Road Safety Project.
“Road safety either directly or indirectly impacts all of us in many ways, including our mental health. However, little focus is placed on the mental health of victims and their families,” said Mr. Zane Castillo, Project Manager for the Second Road Safety Project. “The Ministry of Economic Development, the executing agency for the Second Road Safety Project, is pleased that this area of health care is now getting the attention it needs through this agreement with PAHO.”
Currently, Belize’s health system has focused on the physical recovery of victims’ post-crash injuries as a short-term intervention for saving lives. However, the MHPSS initiative acknowledges the mental health effect on victims, their families, and caregivers and protects the psychosocial well-being of all persons affected by road traffic incidents.
“Road traffic incidents can result in life-changing events for a person and their families and providing mental health care is vital for their recovery,” shared the Deputy Director for Public Health and Wellness, Dr. Fidel Cuellar.
At the end of the consultation, representatives were able to review the findings of a local situational analysis conducted by PAHO/WHO, review monitoring and evaluation frameworks, discuss the steps forward for capacity building, and develop a referral pathway. This takes Belize a step forward to improving the quality of MHPSS for victims of road accidents and their families.

About PAHO/WHO
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) works with the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of its population. Founded in 1902, it is the world’s oldest international public health agency. It serves as the Regional Office of WHO for the Americas and is the specialized health agency of the Inter-American system. For further information please contact Zenena Moguel, Communications Consultant at [email protected] and/or Rick Rhaburn, Media & Communications at [email protected], or visit https://www.paho.org/en/belize.

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