General — 08 October 2016 — by Adele Ramos
USAID exits Belize

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Oct. 6, 2016–There have been recent reports that the US-financed program, Pan American Social Marketing Organization (PASMO), a social marketing program which began operating in Belize in 1999, has closed its doors in Belize and yesterday, it was formally announced that United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which also finances the Spanish program, PASCA: the Program for Strengthening the Central American Response to HIV, would cease having a direct presence in Belize.

The programs have been active in helping the Government of Belize with its response to HIV/AIDS, and Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, told the press Wednesday that something would have to be done to subsume the work under some other entity.

A press release from the US Embassy in Belize noted that, “Since 2002, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), in large part thanks to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has provided over US$4.25 million to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Belize and over 21 organizations in Belize have received support.”

It added that, “In partnership with the Ministry of Health, National AIDS Commission, and local civil society organizations, the programs focused on developing and enhancing strategic planning, policy advocacy, raising awareness, testing, prevention, and monitoring and evaluation.”

According to the official release, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided approximately USD$350,000 in support to Belize’s fight against HIV/AIDS since 2010 through PEPFAR.

PEPFAR and USAID led a celebration on Wednesday under the theme, “10 Years Promoting a Sustainable Response to HIV in Belize,” reviewing the milestones they have achieved over the decade.

“As USAID programming concludes in Belize, PEPFAR, USAID, and other U.S. Government agencies will continue to provide assistance to the HIV response in Belize through regional mechanisms such as the Regional Coordinating Mechanism (RCM), and the Council of Central American Ministers of Health (COMISCA),” it said.

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