Belize told to Improve Response to Public Health Emergencies

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A report card given to Belize’s Ministry of Health concerning its capacity to respond to public health emergencies in 2012 by the Central American arm of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control was released today.

Belize scored rather poorly in certain key areas, however, Dr. Jorge Polanco of the Ministry of Health said there is something for Belize to be proud about.

vlcsnap-2014-03-06-19h36m49s119Dr. Jorge Polanco- Ministry of Health

“The truth is that to do it in a global manner, it is a little bit difficult because what we are doing is we are reviewing the components.  We have the Command Center in the component, the medical coordination as another component, the communication Infrastructure, Surveillance System, Public Information and Risk Communication.  So, in the different areas, we saw our report here this morning and the grades are varying.  For example, in Surveillance, we are doing extremely good. The Ministry of Health, in this case has had us in a good experience in surveillance activities in the prevention of outbreaks, surveillance of risk factors.  For example, going back to hurricanes, that we know, could lead up to outbreak.  So, we manage to mitigate these factors, and the results has been that in recent years, the severe floodings that we have had across the country, when we expected a surge of, or the potential or representatives for communiqué abilities was there.  In reality, when we look at the numbers, we did not that effect”.

At the same time, Dr. Polanco noted problems with administrative plans regarding emergencies.

Dr. Jorge Polanco:  “But there are other areas that we need to tighten up, referring to the administrations of these functions, because senior officers occur to have been involved in responding to emergencies, know what they need to do, but one of the weaknesses is to have those persons documented, have standard documented procedures, have those manuals and they have a constant distribution of those procedures at the distribution”.

Local health officials led by Director of Health Services Dr. Michael Pitts met with the consultant team in Belize City this morning. Dr. Bernard Benecke, the deputy director of the CDC in Central America, preferred not to focus on the actual scores. He preferred to say that Belize had room for improvement.

vlcsnap-2014-03-06-19h56m44s42Dr. Bernard Benecke-  Deputy Director of CDC, Central America

“It is reporting progress.  Belize is a small country is a benefit and is withdrawing back.  It all depends on the resources and the put of the will of the country.  Belize has some challenges being a small country.  So, we tried to plug the gaps, the areas that need more, with minimum resources. 

Reporter: “What is Belize’s greatest challenge?”

“I think that the greatest challenge is the area of communications and training the staff.  If we move it together having a plan and everybody knows to be able to respond in a cohesive manner to almost any kind of event”.

The CDC gave the same report to other Central American countries but there is no word on how we compared.

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