Belize City, Belize, September 20, 2021 (PAHO/WHO) – The European Union (EU) has been partnering with PAHO/WHO Belize for almost 20 years in projects that advance the goal of providing more efficient and higher quality health care for the people of Belize.
As one of the largest projects being implemented in Belize, the Health Sector Support Programme (HSSP) is a five-year project created under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF). The project aims to achieve a better quality of life, for all Belizeans, living now and in the future and prioritizes disaster resilient, and environmentally friendly health facility strengthening structure, organization and management of health services, and improving Belize’s health information system.
PAHO/WHO Representative in Belize, Dr. Noreen Jack highlighted the project’s goals and achievements thus far and shared her gratitude:
“I want to thank the European Union for their ongoing support to Belize and the health system and the ongoing partnership with PAHO/WHO and the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW) to contribute to achieving a better quality of life for all Belizeans,” said Dr. Jack.
During the 2020 pandemic, PAHO/WHO engaged with the European Union for reorientation of 500,000 to support Belize’s COVID-19, which were used to
- decentralize laboratory diagnosis of COVID-19 by introducing rapid testing for the country,
- improve integrated healthcare at the community level equipment through procurement of equipment and supplies for 230 community healthcare workers, and
- enhance infection prevention and control with a focus on medical waste management for COVID-19.
The Spotlight Initiative is another global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations (UN) to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030. Given the continued evolving situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in Belize, funds from the project were also used to increase access to mobile and community level health, psychosocial and legal services, increase awareness of family violence and prevent violence against women and girls, strengthen capacity of national authorities to prepare, coordinate and respond to family violence during COVID-19 and improve safety of healthcare workers by procuring hospital equipment and personal protective equipment (PPEs).
“By adopting to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN agencies implementing the Spotlight Initiative (UNICEF, UNFPA, and UNDP) along with government and civil society organizations, shifted their plan to strengthen the country’s capacity to respond to family violence,” said Mrs. Birgit Gerstenberg, UN Resident Coordinator in Belize.
In attendance was also Her Excellency Marianne Van Steen, Ambassador of the EU:
“We have been able to rely on the expertise of PAHO/WHO and the UN in order to make sure that the funds that we made available are well used,” said H.E. Van Steen. “I want to reiterate the importance the European Union attaches to assist countries to face this global pandemic through emergency support of the Health Programme and the Spotlight Initiative. I wish you, Minister, and every Belizean person present today a lot of courage and good luck to ensure that you can face this challenge and the European Union will for sure be at your side, as much as we can to support you.”
The Ministry of Health and Wellness continues to partner with global organizations like PAHO/WHO, the EU, and the UN to improve Belize’s health system to confront evolving challenges due to new technologies, emerging diseases, the burden of non-communicable diseases and threats of climate-related disaster.
“One of the key roles of the Ministry of Economic Development is to interface with the European Union on behalf of the Government of Belize and jointly determine the priorities and allocation of funds by sector,” said Dr. Osmond Martinez, Chief Executive Officer of the National Authorizing Office. “Over the past three decades, the EU has committed over 200 million euros to the improvement and standard of living and quality of life to the people of Belize.”
In closing, the Minister of Health and Wellness thanked the European Union:
“Thank you to the European Union for their commitment to Belize,” said Hon. Michel Chebat. “Thank you for your assistance in repairing and retrofitting our hospitals to upgrade them to smart hospitals. Thank you for your assistance with our BHIS system which has become so critical in this fight against the COVID pandemic and thank you for all the medical equipment and supplies. And one close to my heart is vaccinations – thanks to the European Union through CARPHA we have been able to get vaccinations to Belize.”