Saturday, May 18, 2024

Belize strengthens its health system through PAHO’s Essential Public Health Functions


Through the European Union-funded Health Sector Support Programme (EU-HSSP) Belize, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW) facilitated a two-day stakeholder consultation workshop on Belize’s Essential Public Health Functions (EPHFs). Almost 60 stakeholders from various Government ministries and departments analyzed each of the 11 renewed EPHFs to identify gaps and eventually develop an action plan to address priority gaps.
In his opening address, Dr. Jorge Polanco, Director of Hospital Services and Allied Health of the MoHW, commented:
“Every individual and entity represented here has a specific role to play in the strengthening of the national health system. Note that I am not saying ‘in the strengthening of the MoHW.’ I refer to the national health system that is comprised of all the functions that we will be discussing.”
Using an integrated approach with a set of indispensable actions for improving, promoting, protecting, and restoring the health of the population through collective action, assessing Belize’s EPHFs could guide the development or revision of policies that will strengthen the governance role of the MoHW.
“Meeting these objectives implies understanding the health needs of Belize’s population and assessing the capacity of the health system to respond to those needs,” said Dr. Edwin Bolastig, PAHO/WHO Technical Advisor for Health Systems and Services in Belize. “By so doing, gaps may be identified, and improvement plans to address these gaps can be developed. Improvement plans can contribute to the creation of policies and strategies, which is especially relevant as we prepare to enter the final year of Belize’s Health Sector Strategy 2014-2024 and as Belize continues the transformation of its health system.”
This week’s measurement of the institutional capacity to execute EPHFs is part of a process that has been led by the MoHW, through a Technical Working Group consisting of the executive management team. The planning and preparation, which started in February involved an analysis of the situation of health in Belize and mapping of stakeholders who contribute to the execution of the EPHF.
The assessment of the EPHFs consisted of assessing the status and functioning of the health system of the country in each of the 11 component areas and then identifying policies for development to strengthen them and address the social determinants.
As part of Strategic Objective 2 of the EU project which focuses on strengthening the structure, organization, and management of health services in Belize, the assessment of EPHF contributes to strengthening the governance and leadership role of the MoHW. PAHO/WHO continues to work with partners such as the EU to improve efficiencies and organizational management of the country’s health sector.


The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) 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] or visit

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