PAHO/WHO and the Ministry of Health and Wellness launch the first and free-to-use digital health specialist, Pahola, for Alcohol Use in Belize

5 Dec 2022
Launch of Pahola in Belize

Belize City, Belize, December 05, 2022 (PAHO) – With more than 200 health conditions linked to alcohol use, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) joined forces with the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW) to launch the first and free digital health specialist (artificial intelligence (AI)), Pahola, for Alcohol Use in Belize.

Programmed with the latest information and research, Pahola provides instant and accurate advice and information that can simultaneously help millions of drinkers reduce their alcohol consumption. As an online site, this digital health specialist is easily accessible anytime and anywhere to those seeking guidance on alcohol use and misuse.

The Region of the Americas ranks as the second highest for alcohol consumption with 54 percent of the total population being current drinkers. New technologies such as Pahola not only expand access to knowledge but with artificial intelligence, it is also designed to be empathic and supportive at times when an actual health professional is not available.

Between 2017 to 2021, the National Drug Abuse Control Council, the Ministry of Health and Wellness reported providing outreach services to 688 clients with alcohol consumption use countrywide. To complement, NDACC outreach services, the goal of Pahola is not only to reduce the rate of alcohol use but also to help people better recognize the harmful effects caused by alcohol and the burden it places on their overall well-being. Misuse of alcohol can lead to negative health and social effects such as drunk driving, domestic violence, several forms of cancer, chronic liver disease such as cirrhosis, and heart disease. With Pahola, people can learn and understand how they can live a better life by drinking less alcohol.

Pahola is designed to respond to questions like ‘how do I know if I drink too much?’. Pahola is available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese and can now be accessed on the MoHW’s website. Along with Pahola, persons can also turn to the National Drug Abuse Control Council (NDACC) and the Mental Health Unit at various health facilities to seek resources and guidance on alcohol use.a