The United States Government supports the Ministry of Health and Wellness with over $1,200,000USD implemented through PAHO/WHO for health initiatives, equipment, and the COVID-19 response in Belize

Handover of items procured through the USG funds

Belmopan, Belize, February 07, 2023 (PAHO) – To strengthen Belize’s overall health sector, the United States Government (USG) funded $1,292,310.39USD implemented by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) for numerous health initiatives, cold chain equipment and the COVID-19 response supporting the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW).

“I want to thank Ambassador Michelle Kwan and the people of the United States for this generous funding support of over $1 million US to PAHO and WHO that provided a level of flexibility to be responsive to areas of greatest need,” said Dr. Noreen Jack, PAHO/WHO Representative in Belize. “These all contribute to the health and well-being of the people of Belize.”

Although the number of cases and deaths has decreased and 70.1% of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean have been vaccinated, the COVID-19 pandemic remains a threat and continues to overwhelm the health system globally.

Through partnership and collaboration, the USG has supported the country’s COVID-19 response through immunization, procurement of cold chain equipment, procurement of vaccination supplies and COVID-19 medications, restoration of health services, and key communication strategies.

To expand Belize’s national cold chain capacity to transport, store, and distribute vaccines as well as increase the use of digital temperature monitoring devices, through the USG funds, PAHO/WHO was able to procure:

  • 20 Ice-lined Refrigerators
  • 4 Refrigerated Trucks
  • 200 Vaccine Carriers
  • 500 Temperature Monitoring Devices
  • 35 Remote Temperature Monitoring Devices
  • 24 Air conditioners
  • 10 Ceiling Fans and Standing Fans

Additionally, the USG funded key communication strategies including the development of COVID-19 vaccine jingles targeting both adults and children which were also translated to Spanish, Garifuna, Mopan Maya, and Q’eqchi Maya and aired on local stations. To enhance community ownership and empowerment in increasing awareness of the COVID-19 vaccine benefits, artists and community members participated in painting community murals placed in each of the four health regions of the country.

Relating to the COVID-19 Response, communication tools such as feather flags, banners, posters, and loudspeakers were also procured. In addition, contact tracers and data entry encoders were hired for the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) to keep over 200,000 vaccination records up to date. To facilitate a blended work modality, MoHW’s Technical Advisors also received 15 laptops during the pandemic.

U.S. Ambassador Michelle Kwan emphasized, “All of us in the global community must work together to find common solutions for our shared health challenges.  The United States is proud to have partnered with PAHO, the WHO, and the Ministry of Health and Wellness to help Belize weather the worst periods of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we stand ready to continue to work together to face whatever health challenges may arise in the future.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic did halt many primary care services, the USG has aided several health initiatives relating to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), communicable diseases (CDs), maternal and child health (MCH), public health emergencies, and blood services to maintain the continuation of essential health services. Specific to these areas, PAHO/WHO and the MoHW were able to:

  • Promote healthy living through the printing of posters, health passports, and airing of ads
  • Install six billboards road safety billboards throughout the country
  • Promote the prevention of cervical cancer through an HPV education campaign
  • Promote exclusive breastfeeding
  • Increase awareness of mental health in the country
  • Promote water sanitation and hygiene (WASH), infection, prevention and control (IPC), and antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
  • Promote blood services through the procurement of promotional materials for World Blood Donor’s Day and the donation of 10 phlebotomy chairs

Moreover, the EPI unit was given seven laptops and seven uninterruptible power supply devices, the Central Medical Laboratory (CML) storage was expanded, and emergency medical teams (EMT) field units were given a radiological imaging kit. Apart from this, capacity building for health personnel in testing and management of HIV, TB, and neglected infectious diseases, diabetes management, and training for quality improvement officers was done. Support was also given to community health workers through the procurement of essential medical supplies including blood pressure machines, thermometers, and glucometers with strips.

“We share the responsibility with important stakeholders as we all strive to have and maintain a strong, productive, and healthy population through collaborative efforts,” said Hon. Kevin Bernard, Minister of the Ministry of Health and Wellness. “As we pledge to continue to work with key partners to stay committed to the health and well-being of the people of Belize, our team at the Ministry of Health, and everyone who followed the fulfillment of these donations, we couldn’t have done it without you.”

These significant efforts have helped strengthen Belize’s health sector immensely in not one, but many areas of health including COVID-19. PAHO/WHO continues to seek support from partners like the USG building key partnerships that commit to the health and well-being of the people of Belize.

Handover of items procured through the UDG funds to Belize