Highlights — 09 October 2015 — by Rowland A. Parks
PUP promise healthy Belize; launch health reform agenda

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Oct. 7, 2015–The Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) launched its Health Reform Agenda this morning at its Independence Hall headquarters, where a number of medical practitioners were in attendance for the Party’s manifesto on health, dubbed “Health Care for the People.”

       Presenting the health manifesto were the PUP Leader Francis Fonseca, standard bearer for the Freetown constituency; Dr. Francis Smith, the Pickstock standard bearer, and Dr. Lesbia Guerra Cocom, the Cayo West standard bearer.

       Fonseca told the Independence Hall attendees that one of the greatest failures of this government of Dean Barrow has been the absolute neglect and abandonment of our health system. Our people are dying, literally dying because of the incompetence of officials at the Ministry of Health, starting at the very top, Fonseca commented.

       Fonseca pointed out that Prime Minister Barrow is on record as saying that Minister of Health Pablo Marin’s victory at the election polls is more important to him, Barrow, than Marin’s performance as Minister of Health.

       “I have said it repeatedly. It is an absolute disrespect to the Belizean people to have Dean Barrow put in place and have in place Pablo Marin as the Minister of Health in this country,” Fonseca said.

       Fonseca added, “Today after eight years, our health system is in crisis and it falls to the next PUP government, to fix it.”

       In fixing the health care system the PUP promised to roll out the National Health Insurance program across the entire length and breadth of Belize. Free primary healthcare for all will be put in place.

       “People should not be dying in Belize in 2015 simply because they cannot afford healthcare,” Fonseca said.

       In addition, said Fonseca, the PUP promises to end corruption in the tender process for procuring medicine and healthcare equipment, and to build a new twenty-four hour hospital in San Pedro.

       Fonseca said that the PUP is committed to a bold and aggressive plan that will provide quality healthcare for all Belizeans.

       Dr. Francis Smith, in his address to the attendees, said that the government is charged with taking care of the entire society. “We Belizeans are witnessing a systemic failure in our health care system that has literally gone to rats and snakes,” he said.

       Dr. Smith said that under the last PUP administration huge sums of monies were spent on human resources, but under this UDP government, there has been no investment in the training of new medical practitioners.

       Smith said that healthcare is no longer a PUP and UDP issue, but that it is a national issue.

       He remarked, “We sat in front of our TV screens in disbelief watching the Melinda Guerra and Nasley Sommerville allegations of gross financial irregularities. We saw the deplorable institutional neglect at the San Ignacio and Belmopan hospitals with the improper disposal of bio-hazardous waste. We saw needles, syringes, bloodstained dressings and swabs strewn over the hospital grounds in San Ignacio and in Belmopan. Lastly, a ‘Charlie Price’ (a large rat) in the incubator went viral for the world to see. Right minded health professionals were all profoundly disturbed and embarrassed. But for our UDP parliamentarians, including the Prime Minister, this was a provocation to great laughter and jokiness.”

        “A PUP government will empower healthcare providers to take control and ownership of their jobs, boosting self-esteem. We will ensure proper insurance coverage and pension benefits for healthcare providers at the KHMH and all public hospitals and health centers across this country. A PUP government will revitalize medicine in Belize and restore trust in our public health system,” Dr. Smith said.

        Dr. Lesbia Guerra-Cocom said that on a daily basis people are complaining about our healthcare system. “We recognized that the assignment before us is immense. Our party, the PUP, will ensure having adequate equipment in our hospitals and polyclinics, so that all necessary services can be provided according to the level of attention,” she said.

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