The Ministry of Health in collaboration with Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Belize held a ‘Dialogue on Health Financing’ forum on Monday February 13th at the Radisson Hotel in Belize City in connection with the agenda of activities on the official visit of the PAHO Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne to Belize. Welcome address was delivered by Dr. George Gough, Chairman of the Belize Medical Council followed by a brief history of the National Health Insurance (NHI) in Belize done by Dr. Ramon Figueroa, Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Health. In the opening parts of his presentation he spoke about the power struggle between the Social Security Board and the Government of Belize and public facilities to manage the payment aspect of the program in its initial roll-out. He did; however, stress that the commitment was steadfast throughout the years to see it reach as much areas as possible throughout the country. In conclusion, he highlighting the new clinics in the north that have recently opened under NHI and the commitment to ensure Universal Health Coverage for all.
The main presentation was done by the visiting PAHO Director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne. Her presentation was entitled, “Universal Access to Health and Universal Health Coverage.” She started by referring to The PAHO/WHO Health Report for 2020 which deals directly with financing as the path to Universal Health Coverage. While financing is the key to Universal Health Coverage, she stressed that universal access to health and the access to the social determinants of health including water, sanitation, shelter etc. were just as important to meet that objective. She also detailed other factors such as Infrastructure, organization, fragmentation and trained health care workers as part of the foundation needed to ensure universal access of health coverage. At the conclusion of her presentation she congratulated Belize in the steps that have already been taken towards Universal Health coverage and she encouraged the Government of Belize and its partners to continue to invest in Universal Health Coverage. "Ultimately this will strengthen your health systems and Primary Health Care and that is where the focus is globally."
The main activity of the forum was the signing of the Country Cooperation Strategy (CCS) for Belize. It outlines the medium-term vision that will guide PAHO/WHO’s work in Belize in support of the National Health Sector Strategic Plan 2014-2024. This signing will also improves PAHO/WHO’s collaboration with other partners and support Belize’s ability to achieve the targets related to the Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Multi Country Sustainable Development Framework. Minister of Health. Hon. Pablo Marin signed on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Dr. Etienne signed on behalf of PAHO/WHO.