The Government of the Republic of India donates over US$520,000 in medical equipment for the capacity strengthening of Belize's health services

By Pan American Health Organization

The Government of the Republic of India donates over US$520,000 in medical equipment for the capacity strengthening of Belize's health services

As health systems continue to adapt and cope with the pressure caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the pandemic has shown the importance of strengthening response capacity during emergencies. In recognizing the vital role that access to proper medical equipment plays, the Government of the Republic of India has donated over US$520,000 worth of medical equipment to nine health facilities throughout the country.

Through a collaboration among the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), United Nations (UN), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration (MoFAFTI), and the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW) and with funding support from the Government of the Republic of India, this significant donation will assist in the continuity of essential health services while simultaneously managing COVID-19 cause surges.

“The outputs of this grant have not only contributed to the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic but contributed to the strengthening of the health systems and services in Belize,” said Dr. Noreen Jack, PAHO/WHO Representative in Belize.

This multi-sectoral collaboration was facilitated through the India-UN Development Partnership Fund, a dedicated facility within the United Nations Fund for South-South Cooperation. The Government of the Republic of India approved this US$1 million fund for Belize to target three main objectives:

To strengthen the response capacity of the health system to COVID-19 through the provision of key medical equipment. To improve accessibility to local healthcare services in support of COVID-19 recovery through the provision of a medical waste incinerator for a new health facility in Caye Caulker Village Belize.

To increase awareness of the prevention, response, and recovery from COVID-19 among vulnerable urban and rural populations in Belize.

“The handover event is a prime example of how South-South Cooperation supports the achievement of the United Nations COVID-19 Socio-Economic Response and Recovery Plan (SERP) for Belize. The project on ‘strengthening clinical management of Covid-19 patients and reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission among health workers in Belize,’ for which we are here today, is a direct intervention that responds to pillar 1 on protecting health services and systems during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Ms. Birgit Gerstenberg, UN Resident Coordinator in Belize and El Salvador.

The much-needed medical equipment included two medical waste management autoclaves, two biomedical waste transport trolleys, 20 patient monitors, 10 delivery beds, 46 electric patient beds, 15 incubators, 7 ECG machines, 12 transfer stretchers with emergency carts, and 10 suction machines. With guidance from the MoHW, Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, Northern Regional Hospital, Western Regional Hospital, Southern Regional Hospital, Corozal Community Hospital, San Ignacio Community Hospital, Punta Gorda Community Hospital, Independence Polyclinic, and San Pedro Polyclinic were the nine facilities selected to receive the donated equipment. Additionally, an incinerator valued at US$85,381.41 is currently being procured for the Caye Caulker Health Center. The incinerator is expected to be delivered later this year.

“Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has opened our eyes as to how vulnerable we can be in regard to national capability to protect ourselves against pandemics,” said Dr. Jorge Polanco, Director of Hospital Services and Allied Health of the MoHW. “I must recognize the efforts of our international partners – PAHO/WHO, UNICEF, and UNDP as well as local partners – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in utilizing strategic means of their organizations to ensure Belize gets the required equipment. I want to thank the Government of India for the generous support in times of economic struggle, as we maintain the efforts in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. It will continue to require the collaboration of all our national, regional, and international partners.”

As Belize continues to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, collaborations through such mechanisms as the India-UN Development Partnership Fund will help strengthen Belize’s health system to combat current health emergencies and prepare the health system to respond to new and emerging diseases efficiently and effectively.

“We need to be strengthened global cooperation; We need to forge shared values, common interests, and very importantly enlightened leadership,” said H.E. Amalia Mai, Chief Executive Officer of the MoFAFTI. “The Ministry and by extension the Government is committed to these interests. We look forward to fostering our common understanding and expanding the positive impact for all Belizeans.”