Belize City, Belize, October 8, 2021 (PAHO) – As part of the European Union (EU)-funded Health Sector Support Programme Belize (HSSP), the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW) held a visibility event and site visit at the Corozal Community Hospital to highlight the retrofitting works to make the hospital ‘smart’ – disaster-resilient (safe) and environmentally-friendly (green).
Since September 2018, PAHO/WHO has been implementing this multi-year project with total funding from the EU of 8.8 million euros with the overall goal of “achieving a better quality of life, for all Belizeans, living now and in the future.” One of the components of the project is to develop efficient, effective, disaster-resilient, and environmentally friendly health facilities based on the Smart Health Facility concept.
“The retrofitting works that will be undertaken here at the Corozal Community Hospital will embody this concept, and by the end of the project, we will all see a Corozal Community Hospital that is safer, greener, and more disaster-resilient,” said Dr. Edwin Bolastig, Health Systems and Services Technical Advisor of PAHO/WHO.
As the lead contributor to global health, the EU has been partnering with PAHO/WHO Belize for almost 20 years in various health projects – the HSSP Belize project being one of the largest funded health projects in the country. The Head of Cooperation for the European Union was also present at the event sharing his appreciation to PAHO/WHO and the MoHW.
“Strengthening the health system in Belize has become even more significant now due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has changed and affected not only Belizeans but also the global health system,” said Mr. Aniceto Rodriguez, Head of Cooperation for the EU. “The EU will continue assisting the Ministry of Health and Wellness through its Health Sector Support Programme. Today’s visit to the Corozal Community Hospital is a landmark to unveil what will be the future renovations. I thank you (PAHO/WHO and MoHW) for the excellent joint effort to implement together those vital projects for the well-being of all Belizeans.”
After consultations with the staff and management, the proposed scope of works for the Corozal Community Hospital includes renovating and reorganizing the entire emergency area of the hospital, upgrading the hospital to withstand hurricanes, improving the electrical and plumbing systems, among other interior and exterior renovations. Mitchell-Moody and Associates was contracted for the design of the facility.
“It is estimated that when this project is concluded it will directly improve the health and the livelihood of the people of Corozal town and surrounding communities,” said Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness Belize. “The risks posed by natural disasters are extremely high in Corozal town due to its positioning along the coast. Hence, ensuring our health facility can continue to operate in times of natural disasters is imperative. It is our mission to continue to partner with our national, regional and international partners like the European Union and PAHO/WHO to find the financial and technical resources we need to invest in the health of our people.”
Along with the Corozal Community Hospital, the other health facilities to be retrofitted under this
project are Southern Regional Hospital in Dangriga, Northern Regional in Orange Walk, Western Regional Hospital in Belmopan, Punta Gorda Community Hospital, and Central Medical Laboratory in Belize City. By 2023, these facilities will become a ‘smart’ health facility.
Other components of the HSSP include improving the structure, organization and management of health services to achieve universal health care and ensure equitable access to a whole range of quality, effective, efficient and people-centered health services. The third objective is to facilitate the tender, installation and operationalization of a platform that will make the Belize Health Information System (BHIS) interoperable with other information systems, bringing the digitalization of health information in the country to the 21st century.