Posted: Friday, February 18, 2022. 3:35 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Works have been completed on four critical health facilities, spread across the country, designed to be made safer, greener, and more resilient to natural disasters and climate change.
The project was funded by the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (UK-FCDO) and the facilities have new safety measures as well as green technology and improved patient flow allowing efficient and effective delivery of care during disasters, generating operational savings, and reducing disaster losses making it ‘Smart.’
The Palmview Mental Health Center in Belmopan was handed over in 2021 and this week, improvements were unveiled at the San Ignacio Community Hospital; Cleopatra White Polyclinic; Independence Polyclinic, and Isabel Palma Polyclinic in San Antonio Village, Toledo.
Improvements include hurricane and earthquake structural resilience, stormwater drainage, fire safety, electrical network, water supply, telecommunication, and infection control, as well as replacement of damaged roof frames ceilings, floors, doors, and windows; installation of rainwater harvesting and additional storage, energy-efficient LED lighting, solar water heating and ~45KW in photovoltaic power systems, generators, more efficient AC cooling, ventilation and waste management, as well as improved water fixtures, plumbing, and drainage. all aimed at lowering the operating expenditures and boosting contingency measures by providing back up power and water in emergencies; and installation of disability access ramps and handrails expansion of storage with appropriate cabinetry, renovation of the laboratory and pharmacy, and some construction of additional indoor and outdoor bathroom facilities and washing facilities.
PAHO/WHO Representative to Belize, Dr. Noreen Jack, highlighted, “The objective is to enhance the protection of health facilities from disasters and climate change providing safer, resilient and greener health facilities to capable of delivering care in disasters, generating operational savings with enhancing of energy efficiency and reduce disaster losses in the Caribbean… We are happy that we have reached this significant milestone and look forward to the completion of the retrofitting works as part of this project and other similar projects using the Smart Health Facility Concept.”
British High Commissioner to Belize, Her Excellency Claire Evans OBE added: “Our UK grant is instrumental in supporting Belize’s efforts to reduce disaster vulnerability of vital public buildings and boost its climate resilience. It has also provided a helpful platform for risk reduction planning within the health sector. COVID -19 has further highlighted the importance of disaster preparedness and contingency measures at health facilities for staff and patients. The improvements will require careful and timely maintenance in order that they continue to operate and deliver their services most effectively for the people of Belize.”
And Minister of Health and Wellness, Kevin Bernard, summed up: “These are the projects and the moments which make a real difference in the lives of our people. As the Minister of Health and Wellness, it gives me pleasure to be a part of this historic occasion as we witness first-hand the benefit of a real collaboration for the benefit of our people.”
The total costs of the upgrade are BZ$9,644,931.62. Design and construction were carried out by Maheias United Concrete & Supplies Ltd. and Guerra’s Construction Ltd for the retrofitting works along with Gutierrez & Associates Architects. Cleopatra White Polyclinic, Isabel Palma Polyclinic, and Independence Polyclinic are expected to be handed over by the end of March.
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