PAHO/WHO Belize conducts Two-Day Maintenance Training with Health Personnel for Smart HealthCare Facilities

15 Sep 2022
UK Maintenance Training

Smart Health Care Facilities in the Caribbean Initiative

PAHO/WHO Belize conducts Two-Day Maintenance Training with Health Personnel for Smart HealthCare Facilities

Belize City, Belize, September 15, 2022 (PAHO) – As part of the Smart Health Care Facilities in the Caribbean II Project, funded by the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (UK FCDO), the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW) conducted a two-day facility maintenance training with health personnel from the various ‘smart’ (safe and green) health facilities in the country.

Earlier this year, PAHO/WHO completed the retrofitting and handed over five healthcare facilities to the MoHW that were upgraded to become safer, greener, and more resilient to disasters and climate change. This included three polyclinics, one mental health facility, and one community hospital. However, in order to ensure that the ‘Smart’ status of these facilities is kept, proper maintenance must be done.

“During emergencies and disasters, equipment such as generator, solar panels, and rainwater harvesting systems must function to provide the necessary services,” said Ms. Lealou Reballos, PAHO/WHO Technical Officer for Health Emergencies. “When not maintained, these may malfunction and not serve their purpose. In most cases, preventive maintenance is not seen as a top priority. But preventative maintenance is another way to save money in the long term which can be used to improve the health care service provision. During this training, the maintenance staff will benefit from general guidance on how to maintain the facility in optimal working order, with attention to aspects of safety and greenness.”

From the lessons learned in other projects and other countries, one of the most common deficiencies after handover was the proper maintenance of the upgrades and changes to the facilities, especially for those that don’t have an in-house maintenance person. Thus, the goal of the two-day maintenance training was to equip health facility maintenance staff and handymen, including personnel from the National Engineering and Maintenance Center (NEMC) with the knowledge and tools needed to manage and maintain their ‘smart’ facilities.

Throughout the training, participants engaged in both theory and practical exercises including participating in common and emergency scenarios, role play and site visit. Maintenance personnel will now be able to recognize problems and conduct proper and preventative maintenance as well as train other health staff on:

  • Fire safety precautions
  • Preventative maintenance of electrical and air conditioning
  • Water and drainage supply
  • Ventilation and mold prevention
  • Effective and efficient documentation and reporting

Chief Executive Officer of the MoHW, Dr. Julio Sabido, shared his comments about the training:

“I recognize that this event is a milestone for an improved performance of the NEMC unit. I also acknowledge that it is now opportune, and required, to review the budget of the maintenance unit. For too long, some functions of the NEMC were taken for granted. The recent deliberations on maintenance, the development of a national maintenance plan, the recognition for an increased budget, and the need for sustained capacity building makes it imperative to invest in preventive maintenance. This is fundamental. It not only entails ensuring a proper stock of spare parts, but it extends to investing in our maintenance human resources. Investing in our human resources should not be seen as an expenditure, but it represents a direct investment in a structure to ensure continuity of care and improved quality in the provision of care.”

By the end of this training, each ‘Smart’ facility will have staff representatives who are confident in monitoring and maintaining the upgrades to the facility. Therefore, not only reduces the deterioration of the health facility but can also ensure that public services such as water, gas, and electricity, and other components such as detailing, roofs, and doorways, continue to function properly during an emergency and keep the facility “Running SMARTLY.”

The health facilities retrofitted through the UK-FCDO-funded project are Isabel Palma Polyclinic in San Antonio Village, Toledo District, Independence Polyclinic in Independence Village, Stann Creek District, Cleopatra White Polyclinic in Belize City, Belize District, San Ignacio Community Hospital in San Ignacio Town, Cayo District, and Palm View Center in Belmopan, Cayo District.

PAHO/WHO continues to work collaboratively with the MoHW and other key partners such as the UK-FCDO to continue providing and facilitating technical assistance in not only strengthening health facility maintenance but the overall health sector of Belize.

UK-Funded Maintenance Training in Belize