Business View Caribbean | March 2019

5 BUSINESS VIEW CARIBBEAN MARCH 2019 OPENING L INES MEDICAL FACILITIES IN BELIZE TO BECOME SAFER, GREEN, AND MORE RESILIENT TO NATURAL DISASTERS E leven hospitals and health centers and a laboratory in Belize will be retrofitted to make them safer, “green” and able to continue operating during emergencies and disasters as part of the Smart Health Facilities Project, a Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) initiative, financed by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (UKaid) and the European Union (EU). The Matron Roberts, Cleopatra White, Independence II, and Isabel Palma I polyclinics, as well as the San Ignacio community hospital and the Palm Center, were selected to form part of the initiative following an assessment of country priorities and the facilities’ vulnerability to disaster risks. The Western Regional Hospital, the Northern Regional Hospital, and the Southern Regional Hospital, as well as the Punta Gorda and Corozal Community hospitals and the Central Medical Laboratory will also form part of this initiative. “PAHO has been working on disaster prevention and response for 40 years and this has enabled many countries in the Americas to be better prepared to face them,” said the Director of PAHO, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, during her official visit to the country. Etienne added, “To save more lives, we need health centers with plans in place as well as better prepared communities.” In Latin America and the Caribbean, seven out of ten hospitals are located in areas at high risk of disasters, which can leave them out of service in the event of a hurricane, earthquake, or flood. The health sector is also a contributor to climate change and faces high energy and water costs, particularly in small island states. “When disaster strikes, hospitals must remain accessible to people and must be able to operate at full capacity in order to provide care to those affected by an emergency, as well as to regular patients that need care,” said Dr. Ciro Ugarte, Director of the Department of Health Emergencies at PAHO. Ugarte explained that the project will enable select health centers to be retrofitted in order to become resilient and sustainable – by reducing operating costs, as well as to be more efficient service providers and more environmentally friendly. Claire Bruce, Deputy High Commissioner of the British High Commission in Belize said that,