Belize City, Belize, July 26, 2023 (PAHO) – To strengthen Belize’s emergency and critical care system (ECCS) and enhance the resilience for post-crash response, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) along with the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW) and the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development, and Investment (MFEDI) hosted a two-day National Consultation with over 30 first responders.
As the first point of contact during emergencies especially road traffic incidents (RTIs), it is key that an ECCS has the capacity to handle life-threatening situations. Thus, the consultation was an ECCS Assessment (ECCSA) that identified strengths and weaknesses including gaps, improved data collection, and fostered collaboration between stakeholders.
“This assessment will be instrumental in crafting evidence-based recommendations that will guide the country towards improving its post-crash response,” said Dr. Karen Lewis-Bell, PAHO/WHO Representative in Belize. “The focus areas include pre-hospital care, emergency transportation, trauma centers, rehabilitation services, and the integration of data collection mechanisms. By addressing these aspects, we strive to minimize the impact of road traffic injuries on individuals and communities, saving lives and reducing disabilities.”
Inspired by WHO’s emergency care system framework, the assessment achieved five main goals:
- Evaluating the existing ECS
- Providing evidence-based recommendations for improving emergency and critical care services
- Assessing the readiness and resilience of Belize's health system to respond to major disasters and critical incidents
- Strengthening coordination and collaboration among relevant stakeholders including healthcare facilities, emergency services, law enforcement agencies, and transportation authorities
- Improving data collection and monitoring systems for emergency and critical care services
Together with representatives from MoHW’s 2nd Road Safety Project, the consultation allowed staff from the MoHW and members from the Belize Police Department and Belize Emergency Response Team (BERT) to engage in open discussions that will ultimately enhance the quality and efficiency of post-crash care and response.
In addressing the participants, Dr. Fidel Cuellar, Deputy Director for Public Health & Wellness of the MoHW, stated:
“The MoHW, in this particular instance, made it a point to make sure that we invited as many of you (participants) as possible to the table because without your input we cannot do this,” said Dr. Cuellar. “This is your opportunity to contribute meaningfully in a system that all of us need.”
With road traffic incidents (RTIs) being one of the leading causes of death in the country, the overall goal of the assessment was to minimize the impact on individuals and communities through targeted interventions.
“A well-oiled emergency and critical care machine will result in a higher survival rate for victims of road crashes who survive the initial impact,” said Mr. Zane Castillo, Project Manager of the Second Road Safety Project. “While we’re addressing the post-crash care and the mental health and psychosocial support that is needed, we must also do enforcement and that the end result will be a lesser need for emergency responses.”
PAHO/WHO Belize remains committed to fostering collaboration with various ministries, departments, and organizations that will lead to strengthening Belize’s overall health system.