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National Health Insurance scheme launches in Orange Walk District: A significant step towards improved healthcare access

Posted: Saturday, July 8, 2023. 9:29 am CST.

By Breaking Belize News Staff: The National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme, a vital component of the Briceno Administration’s commitment to enhancing healthcare services and access, was officially unveiled in the Orange Walk District this week.

The Government of Belize, acting through the Social Security Board, formalized agreements with primary healthcare facilities and service providers that will cater to the needs of Sugar City residents.

The new scheme’s implementation marks an important stride in the government’s pledge to expand and improve the health services sector. Prime Minister John Briceno offered insight into the intricate process of financing this critical initiative. He highlighted the utilization of gaming revenues from the boledo, as an integral step but underscored the need for additional resources.

“The Boledo alone is not going to be enough to finance NHI. We have to look at other avenues to ensure that the national health insurance will be sustainable,” said Briceno. He discussed potential sources of financing, such as the so-called sin taxes on beer, soft drinks, liquor, cigarettes, and even expanded gambling, including casinos and slot machines.

The Prime Minister also revealed that the Ministry of Investment is exploring technological avenues to connect all these revenue-generating machines to a central database. The goal is to accurately measure the revenues generated, ensuring the appropriate collection and subsequent investment into the national health insurance.

Despite the financial challenges, Briceno expressed optimism about the future of the NHI scheme. “Today’s event brings us one step closer to meeting that goal of providing full coverage to every man, woman, and child in Belize under NHI,” he said.

The government plans to extend the scheme to the north side of Belize City next year, followed by the Cayo district by mid-2024. The launch in Orange Walk is viewed as a critical first step in this ambitious timeline. Briceno credited the Minister of Health for the decision to initiate the rollout in Orange Walk, despite a passionate discussion with the CEO over the launch’s location.

“I think there was a big fight between the CEO and the Minister of Health. The CEO wanted to take it first to Cayo, but somehow the Minister of Health managed to convince the CEO to come to Orange Walk. So thank you for giving in to that, CEO. I had nothing to do with it. I was just informed of what is taking place,” Briceno humorously remarked.

With this launch, the Orange Walk District stands on the precipice of a new era in healthcare, setting the stage for a healthier Belize.

 

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