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Belize: Need for Expansion and Enhancement of Health Services

Posted: Sunday, October 8, 2017. 4:14 pm CST.

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By Richard Harrison: The health of the nation is not a political issue….it is an issue of concern to all Belizeans….from every walk of life.

Almost every family in Belize have had members who needed health services and could not get it in Belize…could not access it in time…or could not afford it.

Recently, a close senior friend of mine fell ill….and was hospitalized at the KHMH. Being very weak, he had to use the “private ward” services available there, as the public area was too hot and made him weaker….and he had to be paying BZ$500 per night.

He wanted to sell his small business, which has been his only income lately….and his only vehicle, which he will need when he recovers…in order that he might help his family cover the costs for his health care….and his expected extended period of recovery.

My friend is going to go broke for trying to stay alive
Should this be? He has been paying taxes all his life…

Most Belizeans will go broke if one in their family have the misfortune of falling sick and needed health care services for an extended period.

This is where the Belize Social Security Board (BSSB) money needs to be invested….not in the games being played at BTL and BEL…or gambles being taken on the so-called “investments” of political cronies.

The Belize Social Security Board needs to invest $25 million in major upgrades of the KHMH and the Western Regional Hospital…..so that the complete range of high quality health care services can be provided to ALL Belizeans needing it….with priority given to those who pay social security contributions….free of cost for social security contributors…and at a nominal cost for Belizeans not contributing to social security.

It should also invest BZ$5 million annually in upgrades and maintenance.

After all, Belize is spending $35 million in a sports complex in Belize City.

One source claims that patients’ percentage contribution towards cost of health care services delivery at KHMH is already around 32%.

The last annual report available for the BSSB on its website is for 2015.

The BSSB financial report for 2015 shows that the Government of Belize contribution to National Health Insurance (NHI) was BZ$17 million for that year alone. Most people in Belize have only heard of NHI….they have not felt it.

Total contributions collected by BSSB were BZ$77 million. Administration cost a whopping BZ$19 million, or almost 25% of contributions. Excess of income over expenses were BZ$23 million.

The 2015 report shows that the BSSB held BZ$163 million investments in BTL and BEL, called “investment in associates”.

They also held BZ$157 million in long-term investments as well….and listed among those were RECONDEV, Civil Service Credit Union, Belize National Building Society (BZ$1.2m), Vista del Mar (BZ$0.5m), Public Service Union housing (BZ$1m), St. James Building Society (BZ$0.54m), BSSB staff housing mortgages (BZ$3.5m), Development Finance Corporation (BZ$20m), Belize Airport Authority (BZ$10m), Sunshine Holding (BZ$14m), BWSL (BZ$26m), Belize Elementary School (BZ$0.5m), Banana Growers Association ($4.5m), Citrus Company of Belize (BZ$18m), Citrus Growers Association (BZ$5m), Marie Sharp (BZ$3.4m), Royal Mayan Shrimp (BZ$4.4m), Border Management Agency (BZ$5.3m), Stann Creek Ecumenical High School (BZ$0.5m), Belmopan Comprehensive (BZ$0.2m), Independence High (BZ$0.3m), Mountain View (BZ$1.8m), Hot Mamas (BZ$0.5m), Caribbean Home and Exports (BZ$3m) and KHMH (BZ$0.2m).

The BSSB claims that 25% of its investments are in the private sector.

They claim to have earned only BZ$25 million in net investment income….but BZ$9.56 million showed up as receivable….hence they only collected around BZ$15.5 million, or only 4.8%.

All these numbers show that the BSSB is not being managed as efficiently and effectively as it should…it is too top heavy…and its investments are not balanced to serve the best interest of the Belizean people.

It also shows that combined with the BZ$17 million that GOB is already investing in NHI annually….the BZ$25 million one-time investment, and BZ$5 million re-current investment, proposed here is quite within the reach of Belize…without asking for the people of Belize to contribute more.

This investment in expansion and enhancement of health services capacity and capability will benefit everyone….it should not become a political football…all the people of Belize should support this initiative…..Belizeans should not be going broke just because someone in their family get sick and need extended periods of health care services….especially our senior citizens who have been paying taxes all their life.

To be?…or not to be?

It is what it is…

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.



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