Belize City, Belize, October 5, 2020 (PAHO/WHO) - Through the reorientation of funds from the “Health Sector Support Programme Belize” project, the European Union (EU) and the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) donated 20 fire extinguishers and 19 smoke detectors to the Central Medical Laboratory of the Ministry of Health. The donation is part of enhancing laboratory network diagnostic capacity to rapidly identify cases of COVID-19 and contributes to the project’s original objective of making health facilities in Belize climate-smart and disaster-resilient.
As the national referral laboratory, the CML supports Belize’s health system with bacteriological cultures for Salmonella species, Cholera, Meningococci Disease, Gonorrhea, S. pneumonia; PCR detection of Influenza, arbovirus (Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya) and indirect immunofluorescence for Influenza. Furthermore, the Central Medical Laboratory is the only laboratory that is currently conducting tests for COVID-19. For this reason, preventing bench-top fires is a crucial component of not just the laboratory’s safety procedures but also the country’s response to COVID-19.
“Mitigating the risk of fire at Central Medical Laboratory is an important safety measure, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” commented Dr. Noreen Jack, PAHO/WHO Representative in Belize. “The CML plays a critical role in supporting surveillance and providing accurate diagnosis so that isolation, contact tracing, and quarantine measures can limit community transmission of the virus.”
On behalf of Dr. George Gough, Chief Executive Officer and the Ministry of Health, Nurse Melinda Guerra, Regional Manager of Central Health Region, accepted and thanked Dr. Noreen Jack for handing over the much-needed emergency equipment.
As the country continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Health, PAHO/WHO and the EU continue to work in partnership to enhance diagnostic capacity of the national laboratory network, improve health care delivery through community outreach, and enhance infection prevention and control through medical waste management. At the same time, work continues in strengthening the health sector and developing smart energy-efficient, disaster-resilient health facilities.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) works with the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of its population. Founded in 1902, it is the world’s oldest international public health agency. It serves as the Regional Office of WHO for the Americas and is the specialized health agency of the Inter-American system. For further information please contact Zenena Moguel, Communications Consultant at email@example.com or visit paho.org/en/belize.