19 May 2010 | BELIZE CITY/BELIZE
The “Consultation for the Development of a National Eye Health Plan for Belize”, will be held on 31 May 2010 at the Radisson Fort George Hotel in Belize City. This consultation is being organized by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Belize. The objectives of the consultation are to inform the development of a national eye health plan for Belize and begin the process of sensitizing stakeholders to the progressive realization in the country of the highest attainable standard of eye health.
According to the Minister of Health, the Honourable Pablo Marin, “Prevention of blindness is integral to general health and overall well-being. The most common causes of blindness in Belize are non-operated cataract and glaucoma, followed by diabetic eye disease and uncorrected refractive errors. Most people living with blindness are over 50 years of age; however, just because you are getting older does not mean you have to lose your sight. About 80% of all blindness in Belize is preventable or treatable. Cataract and diabetic eye disease can be prevented or cured with simple, cost-effective surgical treatments; refractive errors are correctable with simple optical devices; and preventive strategies and effective referral systems can reduce the burden of childhood blindness.”
Dr. Beverley Barnett, the PAHO/WHO Representative in Belize, states that “PAHO/WHO is committed to supporting an integrated and evidence-based approach to improving eye health and access to quality eye health care. Belize’s national eye health plan, being spearheaded by the Ministry of Health, will be developed and implemented through collaboration across many sectors, including non-governmental organizations such as the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired (BCVI), which has been working in this field for many years. Such collaboration enables public, private, and non-profit interests to work together, helping people all over Belize to see well.”
Those who suffer the most from blindness and visual disability are found among the poor of all ages, with poor children and older persons being particularly vulnerable. Promoting and protecting eye health and respecting, protecting, and fulfilling the right to health and related human rights as enshrined in the national constitutions, in the constitution of the WHO, and in international treaties ratified by Governments, are inextricably linked. The progressive realization of the right to health means governments must work toward generating conditions in which everyone can be as healthy as possible, and this consultation is yet another demonstration of the Ministry of Health’s intent to fulfill its mandate in protecting the health and related human rights of the people of Belize.