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Belize, European Union pay tribute to community health workers

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Posted: Tuesday, May 3, 2022. 12:46 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: At a handing over and visibility event this morning in Belmopan, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, along with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) local office and the European Union, are paying tribute to Community Health Workers and a successful partnership which has benefitted all Belizeans.

In his remarks, EU Head of Cooperation Aniceto Rodriguez-Ruiz expressed that Belize’s response to COVID-19 has been an example that others should follow.

The experiences of the assigned CHW for Mahogany Heights, Belize District, Raquel Vega, are instructive.

Our role basically is to educate our people, first of all, the veteran of 11 years’ service says, “and, for us, to offer basic first aid service to our community.”

Vega cares for approximately 1,063 persons in the village, of which she has been a resident for 18 years. As the country is learning to cope with COVID-19, community-based delivery of essential health services becomes a viable solution to the disruption of health services created by an upsurge in cases and lockdowns and to the shifting of the health workforce.

Through the European Union-funded ‘Health Sector Support Program Belize’ project, funds were reoriented for improving integrated healthcare at the community level during COVID-19. 230 Community Health Workers, including Raquel Vega, received work kits containing non-contact thermometers, stethoscopes, glucometers with strips and lancets, and first aid kits.

The EU, PAHO/WHO, and Ministry of Health and Wellness Belize recognize the need to respond to the demands created by COVID-19 while, at the same time, maintaining access to healthcare, especially for persons suffering from non-communicable diseases like hypertension and diabetes mellitus.

The collaborative effort is supporting an initiative that empowers Belize’s team of CHWs to provide basic health services such as blood pressure and glucose monitoring. The CHW network constitutes an alternative strategy for the continued delivery of health services during the pandemic. The program involves training and equipping Community Health Workers to conduct outreach in their villages.

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