Thursday, May 30, 2024

Government to Establish a New University Hospital for Belmopan


A significant priority in the Ministry of Health & Wellness (MOHW) is to strengthen universal health coverage, which means that all Belizeans have access to the full range of quality health services they need. This should be accompanied by the fundamental strategy of “improving the quality of care,” which is one of the many underlying principles that made the Government of Belize consider the construction of another hospital in Belmopan. Apart from providing tertiary care services in a phased-in approach, it will also be the secondary care hospital, replacing the current structure of the Western Regional Hospital, which has deteriorated significantly.
Since the construction of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) in 1995, the population of Belize has grown from 198,000 to 417,000. The KHMH remains the only tertiary care public hospital in the country, providing specialized care in surgery, neurosurgery, cardiology, neurology, and intensive care for adults and children, among other key areas.
In 1995, the combined population for Stann Creek and Toledo districts was approximately 39,200; now it is 83,000. The Western Regional Hospital has been the support health facility for the southern health region. It is then essential to replace the current structure and make tertiary care services available and accessible to the residents of the western and southern districts. The establishment of some tertiary care, for example, intensive care, in this new hospital will bring improved, critical services for the population closer to home.
The MOHW is cognizant of the issue of human resources and the concern surrounding the staffing of the new facility; therefore, efforts are being made through bilateral agreements to recruit specialized human resources. The need for more human resources stems from the expansion of allied health services, along with the creation of relevant posts and the expansion towards 24/7 coverage in all district hospitals.
Belize City is prone to natural disasters; therefore, this project will ensure an alternative for the evacuation of KHMH should the need arise. During every hurricane season, the MOHW encounters the challenge of identifying space to evacuate patients who need to remain hospitalized should a hurricane impact the city. It is, therefore, imperative to create a permanent alternative for evacuation; this is also an underlying reason for the new hospital project. The disaster mitigation strategy also demands that health facilities be climate resilient. This is an effort to help assure the continuity of quality health and human care before, during, and after extreme weather events.
This project will have a dual role as it will also be the University Hospital for the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Belize, which is currently being developed. It will represent the linkage for networking with the Caribbean and Central American subregion for the formation of human resources in health.
The MOHW recognizes the need to improve its readiness to respond to emerging and re-emerging diseases, which are currently global threats. Being able to react promptly to pandemics within the context of universal health coverage requires preparedness in the areas of human resources, laboratory strengthening, capacity building, surveillance, etc. The collaboration with the University of Belize in establishing a medical school and having this new hospital as the University Hospital will contribute to emergency preparedness.
It is envisioned that this hospital will become an enabling environment for the next generation of medical professionals, foster an atmosphere of learning and growth, and will be a huge source of inspiration not only for doctors and nurses but also for medical laboratory technicians, pharmacists, and other allied health personnel.
The Government of Belize and the Ministry of Health & Wellness are convinced that this investment will lead to improved healthcare for all Belizeans.

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