Belize City, Belize, May 10, 2021 (PAHO/WHO) – The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) through the PAHO Health Emergencies Department (PHE) is donating personal protective equipment (PPEs) and biomedical equipment to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital’s COVID-19 Unit.
The donation of oxygen concentrators is part of PAHO’s ongoing technical support to enhance medical oxygen supply when demands increase; The donated hand-held and fingertip pulse oximeters facilitate monitoring of oxygenation status during clinical management of patients diagnosed with COVID-19. The PPE kits are critical to minimizing exposure of health workers to SARS-Cov-2 as they provide care to patients hospitalized at the KHMH COVID-19 Critical Care Unit.
Dr. Edwin Bolastig, Health Systems and Services Advisor commented, “Healthcare workers are crucial to maintaining services during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the greatest risks to the healthcare system is the potentially high rate of infections due to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) among healthcare workers. This could subsequently lead to a lack of availability of trained personnel to guarantee an adequate local and/or national response to the pandemic. Therefore, the donation of PPEs ensures the safety of health workers while maintaining availability of essential health workers to be able to respond to the pandemic by enhancing their ability to adhere to infection, prevention and control (IPC) practices.”
The donated items include 5 oxygen concentrators, 2 portable handheld and 112 fingertip pulse oximeters, 300 respirator masks (KN95), 900 face shields, 7,500 surgical masks, 9,920 gowns and 5,000 gloves.
Mrs. Michelle Hoare, CEO of the KHMH thanked PAHO for the donations saying, "These donated items will provide the required medical support for ongoing management of persons confirmed with and suspected of having COVID-19. The donations will also better prepare hospital management as well as, the COVID-19 response team if Belize has to respond to a potential COVID-19 surge."
The KHMH is the only public facility in the country providing critical care services for COVID-19 patients. By enhancing infection prevention and control in the unit, the safety of healthcare staff working in the unit is protected and by assuring oxygen therapy and monitoring of oxygen status for the clinical management of moderate to severe cases of COVID-19, more lives are saved. Improving KHMH’s capacity will then allow the national referral facility for COVID-19 to be able to play a more effective role in the overall national health system response to the pandemic.
The Health Emergencies Department (PHE) of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) facilitated the donation. Its objective is to increase health sector resilience to emergencies and disasters. PHE assists Member States to strengthen the health sector’s capacities in prevention, risk reduction, preparedness, surveillance, response and early recovery for emergencies and disasters related to any hazards (natural, man-made, biological, chemical, radiological and others). Additionally, when national capacities are overwhelmed, PHE leads and coordinates the international health response to contain disasters, including outbreaks, and to provide effective relief and recovery to affected populations, which includes the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.