By Benjamin Flowers
Districts in the north and west can expect improvements in maternal and infant health care, due to the Ministry of Health’s continuing efforts with the Salud Mesoamérica 2015 Initiative.
The initiative is a project financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) geared towards improving the quality of the facilities and personnel in the Corozal, Orange Walk and Cayo district health centers.
The project, which is being implemented in three 18-month phases, began last July and will complete its first phase in January.The objective of the first phase is to improve maternal and child health services in the target districts, and improving access to sexual reproductive healthcare and information.
According to the Ministry of Health, GOB and the SM2015 Initiative each pledged US$500,000 in July 2012 for the first 18 months of the program and agreed upon a set of goals. If Belize reaches its goals at the end of this first operation, the Ministry of Health will receive US$250,000 as a performance tranche to use in the health sector.
The first of three planned operations expects to reach more than 30,000 poor young women and children between 0 and 5 years old through quality improvement of maternal, neonatal, child and reproductive health services and strengthening community based platforms.
CEO in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Peter Allen, explained that in 2008 the Ministry was concerned about a rising trend of low birth weights for newborns in the north. He said that possible causes were malnutrition issues, poor quality of health services, lack of access to health services and even poor decisions due to lack of information.
Allen says that the project is geared towards equipping residents with the vital information necessary to make informed decisions about pregnancy and health related issues associated with it, and improving the health services to assist residents once they have made the informed decision to become parents.
Project manager for the SM2015, Martha Woodeye, explained that the Ministry decided to hold the project in northern Belize because there are already intervention programmes in the south.
Woodeye also said that meetings have already begun to discuss the second phase of the project.
The SM2015 initiative is a regional project with eight participating countries, geared towards improving the quality of health care for the poorest 20 percent of their populations.
Its three key areas of concern are nutrition, immunizations, and maternal/reproductive health.