Belize City, Belize, February 13, 2020 (PAHO) - The new European Union (EU) Ambassador to Belize, Her Excellency, Marianne Van Steen, met with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Representative to Belize, Dr. Noreen Jack, to discuss the ongoing partnership with the EU-funded Health Sector Support Programme Project, jointly implemented with the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Signed in December 2018, the ‘Health Sector Support Programme Project’ is a five-year project that aims to strengthen Belize’s health sector. Firstly, through improving the health system and management towards achieving universal health care for all, and secondly, through developing climate-friendly, energy-efficient, and disaster-resilient health facilities.
Accompanied by Mr. Nicolaus Hansmann, Team Leader of the EU Technical Office in Belize, H.E. Van Steen, was briefed on the overall progress of the project by the PAHO/WHO team: Dr. Edwin Bolastig, Health Systems and Services Advisor, Ms. Lealou Reballos, Health Emergencies Technical Officer, and Ms. Ruby Dominguez, Administrator. This also included updating the Ambassador on the 500,000 Euros that were reoriented from the project last year to assist with the COVID-19 response in the country.
“We thank the European Union for the reorientation of these funds to support the Ministry of Health and Wellness response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Jack. “One of the critical areas supported was the expansion and decentralization of COVID-19 testing to make COVID-19 testing more available in Belize.”
With the goals of enhancing national laboratory network diagnostic capacity for early detection of COVID-19, enhancing infection prevention and control, and improving integrated healthcare at the community level through outreach services, H.E. Van Steen was grateful to hear that through this partnership the European Union has been able to assist Belize in the fight against this global pandemic.
“I’m very happy to hear part [of the funds from the Health Sector Support Programme Project] has been reoriented towards COVID-19,” said H.E. Van Steen. “For me, I really think this is a priority.”
With such a strong partnership between PAHO/WHO and the EU, one of Belize’s most significant partners, both parties are committed to improving the quality of life, for all Belizeans, living now and in the future particularly Belizeans living in the rural areas of the country.