The Ministry of Health in conjunction with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) staged a “Health in Development” Forum at the Radisson Hotel on Thursday, during which it presented its national health strategic plan and the national health accounts. Opening the event, Ministry CEO Dr. Peter Allen outlined the important factors in maintaining and expanding health services.
Dr. Peter Allen- C. E. O. in the Ministry of Health
“Efficiency, equity, effectiveness and sustainability are key policy objectives for us. And only through understanding how we invest our resources, will we gain the evidence we need to continue to steer our health system in the direction of universal coverage. Especially, my friends, as we plan for the roll-out of the remarkably successful health services purchasing mechanism that we know as NHI. Using NHI as a key tool to advance towards universal coverage, all of you are key partners in the national health system and we are happy to share our financial data with you. Watts on all as it were, [but not too many watts, I hope so]. Only through sharing evidence and discussing the options forward can we advance”.
PAHO/World Health Organization (WHO) Belize Representative Dr. Gerardo de Cosio linked local efforts to discussions for the next step after the review of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of the United Nations in 2015.
Dr. Gerardo de Cosio- PAHO/WHO Representative to Belize
“The United Nations as well as the World Health Organization, including our Organisation, Pan American Health Organization as well, are putting at the forefront, the proposal of having Universal Health Coverage as an over urgent issue to bring people to a more healthy stage after the 20/1/2015. So, I may say that since December 2012, when the United Nations Resolution was passed, the message was clear: UHC was not only a topic for the attention of Health Organizations, but also was standing that all actions and activities promoted and implemented by the U.N. agencies would have an impact in health”.
But how will the plan work? Dr. Allen gives details of the six year work.
Dr. Peter Allen- C. E. O. in the Ministry of Health:
“The strategic time is normally over a period of time: a five year period or, in this case, we are going to produce a strategic plan for a six year period, taking us from 2014 through to 2020. Within that strategic plan we’ll produce an operational plan which lists the activities and the finances and resources that are required to achieve the actions described in the strategic plan, all the time leading us in the direction of that ultimate vision of equity, efficiency and health services”.
In the case of the National Health Accounts, Belize looks to see how well and where it has spent its money with regard to health.
Dr. Peter Allen:
“The National Health Accounts essentially look at all the different ways that funding into health care services occurs. So, as you will imagine, much of that in Belize is through the Budget which the Ministry of Health receives through the Ministry of Finance. But it also takes into consideration what we call “Out-of-pocket Expenses” that people have to literally take out to their pockets…money if they choose to use the private sector or if there are services that they need to access, for example, in Mexico or in Guatemala or in the United States, because for whatever reason, we don’t…we are not able to provide those services in Belize. Now, part of the challenge of the Health Care Services is financing and, of course we want to look at a percentage of all of the money, as a percentage of the Gross National Domestic Product, what percentage is going towards Health Care Services?”
The report was compiled with the assistance of health economist Stanley Lalta, who has praised the rollout of the National Health Insurance scheme in Belize City and Toledo among other initiatives.