The Belize Family Life Association, a non-government organization established in 1985 to advocate for and promote reproductive health across the country, is tonight on the brink of closing its doors. BFLA, according to Executive Director Joan Burke, is in dire financial straits. The organization, despite having grown in scope over the past decade, can no longer afford to pay its employees as monies derived from client services have been on a gradual decline over the last three years. BFLA’s board of directors has held a series of meetings with several donor agencies recently to secure funding for its daily operations. While it would seem as though all options have been thoroughly exhausted the healthcare provider remains hopeful that the Ministry of Health would step in to absorb a number of its services into the existing healthcare system which in turn could generate income for the beleaguered organization. So, after twenty-six years of existence the possibility of folding is very real and Burke told News Five this afternoon that should BFLA close its doors, good Belizeans will be greatly impacted.

Joan Burke, Executive Director, BFLA

Joan Burke

“When we look at the expenses of the association we have two levels. We have of course the operational cost which includes that of personnel and our rental for the facilities that we have to rent, as well as the programmatic part which includes the different activities and projects that we implement. For [or] in the area of the projects we have no challenges there we have no challenges there because they are very sound projects and we are able to actually carry out our activities, meeting our targets where the projects are concerned. However, for the most part projects do not pay salaries and the income for personnel basically we generate those incomes from the persons walking into the clinics and accessing the services which unfortunately over time we’re having less and less persons coming in and accessing the paid services of the organization. So as we stand yes whilst we have projects and funds for projects we don‘t have monies for personnel and so that is the current situation where we have no more monies to meet the operational cost.”

Isani Cayetano

“What would become of the established client base so to speak, in terms of those who are either accessing therapy, accessing medication or other services being offered by BFLA?”

Joan Burke

“Okay, as you know, BFLA is also a provider under the NHI. We will definitely keep NHI and so that’s where we have patients that are basically like our hypertensive and diabetic patients. So NHI will not factor into this at all. Our other clients who are those who are on contraceptives, those who come in for the various types of counseling we’re hoping that if the doors of BFLA is to be closed that those clients would be able to access those services from the Ministry of Health. Should the doors of this organization be closed it will impact the health of the entire nation and there is no, and I feel that there is no answer as to why persons aren’t coming in. When we look at the services that we provide they are of high quality. We provide high quality service or services. We have professional staff that provide those services to our clients.”

Isani Cayetano

“What’s to happen in the immediate wake of the decisions that have been taken and the announcements that have been made to staff that this is the actual situation the organization is facing?”

Joan Burke

“We have a responsibility to staff and so the immediate action is to ensure that all staff are being paid what is due to them.”

The BFLA is yet to meet with all affected parties, including the National Health Insurance component.

Channel 5