Today our news crew took the familiarization tour of the many display booths erected in recognition of Public Service Day which was celebrated countrywide. Weíll tag along as they share with us what they learned:

Julian Cruz, Journalist, PlusNews

They were out in grand style under colorfully decorated and visually appealing tents, as personnel from the different government ministries and departments staged a full day of presentations. Information and display were booths set up on the George Brown Field and a portion of the Ring Road because today was celebrated as Public Service Day. Staff members of the public service showcased the many activities/services engaged in and offered by the single biggest national employer, the Government of Belize. Primary schoolers and visitors flowed through the line of booths wanting to glean a better understanding of how the Government functions. We were there and also got schooled in the methods and policies of the entity known as the PUBLIC SERVICE. We start with the Western Regional Hospital booth where we learn that hygienic practices are essential in avoiding infections and transmission of diseases and for you moms here is a winning argument why breast is best for mother and child.

Representative, Western Regional Hospital
It is important for us to keep our hands clean as health care providers in order to prevent infection to the patient and ourselves. On display here we have some posters illustrating the steps that we should take to maintain proper hand washing as well as the indications before touching the patient. The advantages of breast feeding are that you will have a healthier baby; you will know when the baby is getting enough, because the baby will be gaining weight, which is healthy. Another benefit is that it is the first immunization that the baby will be receiving. The benefits for the mother are that it decreases breast cancer and it decreases uterine bleeding, especially after delivery. It also decreases ovarian cancer. So it has benefits for the mother, the baby and the family. It will cost a whole lot to buy milk. You know a pan of milk lasts two and a half days and thatís twenty dollars you can say, however the breast milk is free. It benefits the environment as well; you wonít have plastic bottles and the cans that must be disposed of.

It was next to a presentation on agriculture of one Belizeís economic pillars.

Ministry of Agriculture Representative
We are displaying the different units that we have in Central Farm: organic, crops, protective agriculture and agro-processing. We have the different units and we carry out research in the different variety of crops and we try to do demonstration for farmers and trainings so that they can adapt to new technologies. It depends on their requests and what they need. For example - pest control, there are a lot of requests and when they come to us we know more or less what they are looking for. And thatís how we start out.

We all need to work and thatís where the Ministry of Labour, (Local Government, Rural Development and NEMO) plays their part.

Ministry of Labour Representative
We have a host of different bristol boards that display what we do here at the Labor Department. The Labor Department is responsible for delivering labor administration, servicing to all stakeholders through development and implementation of national labor laws and policies consistent with international standards in order to promote industrial harmony. We are happy to say that the minimum wage went from three dollars and ten cents to an increase of three dollars thirty cents. So thatís a very good increase for manual workers.

How does the weatherman predict the weather with upgraded equipment of course.

NEMO Representative
We have actually brought out the weather service out here on the grounds. One of the displays that we have shows how we have transformed over the year, from the old system to a more modernized and technologically advanced way. One of the systems that we see is the old conventional way of how go about reading thermometers and making wind direction and wind speed. We have transformed over the years and now we have the automatic weather station which does all of that information in a more accessible and faster way. Before we had the conventional radar where we used to do the tedious way of doing radar, but now we have the new sophisticated doppler radar that is able to trap weather information anywhere from two hundred fifty miles outwards from Belize City north and south and outward to the east and west. This is able to track any weather system that comes into our area.

This part is important - the Transport Dept has been equipped to read the alcohol level in your system so donít drink and drive.

Transport Department Representative
I am here to present this device that we call a breath analyzer; it analyzes the amount of alcohol in the system. Basically if we suspect a driver of being under the influence, we will ask him or her to stop and give us a test. This is a mouth piece. We would ask the driver to step out of the vehicle and blow in this device. The prescribed limit of alcohol in your system is .08, if you are above that then you are considered driving under the influence of alcohol.

A juggernaut is the Ministry of Education with a substantial portion of the annual budget. We learnt about the scope of their responsibilities.

Ministry of Education Representative
Over here we have a game section where we are offering three, five hundred dollars educational assistance which will go toward your school. All you need to do is answer a question and you will be eligible to enter into our raffle. We do those every two hours.

Moving over to M/Health we were updated on a new dietary plan for the Belizean populace.

Ministry of Health Representative
One of the things that we are doing right now is emphasizing the Belize Food-Base Dietary Guidelines. Itís eight guidelines that are for us Belizeans and itís looking at choosing different types of food from all the different food groups. We eat more carbohydrates, sugar and fats, so we are telling especially the children that they need to eat more vegetable and fruit and less salt, fat and sugar.

Julian Cruz
Culturally we have always been used to eating things that are bad for us, how long will it take to change that cultural mindset for us to adapt to a new way?

Ministry of Health Representative
Itís going to take some time because behavior change arenít easy, thatís why we are focusing more on the children, because we want them to learn these habits from they are every young. We are also looking at exercises and physical activity for children as well as stress management. So they will be able to prevent some of these diseases that we are talking about such as diabetics, hypertension and cancer.

Neesha Matute one of the key organizers of the Day shared the importance of having a Public Service Day.

Neesha Matute, Event Organizer
As agents of change, public officers build, transform, create and deliver quality service. Basically the main reason for us to be out here is for the different ministries and departments to show case the services that they have to offer to the general public. I must say the response is awesome. We have a lot of student that came out for this. We have students coming from all different portions of Belmopan and the surrounding villages. I must say it is a tremendous success. We can never have our government offices empty. Some staff members are out here, some came out this morning and some are coming out this afternoon. So they share the different tasks that they are assigned to do out here. We can never have our govern offices on lock. We are here it serve the public and our people and we are here to serve them twenty-four hours.

At the end of the tour we walked away knowing more about the Public Service. There were more than 35 ministries along with their respective departments featured for the Day. Reporting for Plusnews I am Julian Cruz.

The theme for Public Officers day was: ĎAs agents of Change public officers build, transform, create and deliver quality service.í