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Healthcare workers: The health system is in a dire state

By Britney Gordon

The Belize Coalition of Medical Professionals (BCHP) publicized a letter airing their grievances about the shortcomings of the healthcare system and demanding better working conditions at once.

The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Authority Workers Union (KHMHAWU), the Nurses Association of Belize (NAB), and the Belize Medical and Dental Association (BMDA) have gone on the record to express their discontent with the current state of the healthcare sector and their treatment from the authorities.

The coalition stated that due to the unfit working conditions, healthcare workers across the nation have been unable to adequately provide the care they are committed to serving Belizeans.

“As healthcare professionals, we remain committed to the oath which dictates that we do no harm, especially during the practice of our professions. This means we are mandated to provide quality health care services equally to all citizens of our country, and according to their individual needs. While the delivery of healthcare is ours to do, the provision of resources to do so, as well as the development and practice of sustainable public health, is ultimately the government's responsibility.”

The letter noted that there is “an extreme shortage of basic supplies, human resources, and the necessary and needed equipment” as the primary grounds for their dissatisfaction. According to the coalition, these issues not only demoralize the staff but also put patients' rehabilitation and lives at risk.

The letter comes a few weeks after the press conference held by the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Workers Union (KHMHWU), in which they expressed similar opinions on the state of the hospital, administration, and treatment of the sector by the government of Belize.

The coalition now demands intervention from the Government of Belize and stakeholders, requesting a meeting with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Financial Secretary, the Ministry of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform, and the Ministry of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labor, and Local Government within the next seven days.

Within the meeting, the coalition seeks to address the following topics: the shortage of medical supplies, pension status, possible tax exemptions and reductions for employees, and salary review for all healthcare workers.

They also wish to review and implement the Belize Health Sector Strategic Plan 2014-2024, the Compendium of Allowances, the Nursing Review Document of 2007, Circular 6 of 2012, and the Patient Transfer Standard Policy. Finally, they hope to appoint representatives from the membership of the BMDA, the KHMHAWU, and the NAB on the MOHW tendering committee; make provisions for health insurance for all healthcare workers; and define higher education and experience in a health-related field as a prerequisite for the appointment to the post of Minister of health.

The coalition warns, “Failure to meet, discuss and find tangible short and long term working solutions will result in the BCHP taking the necessary actions against the failing state of our healthcare system.”

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