Following the murder of the George Street associates, the U.S. Embassy issued a travel advisory for Belize regarding gang-related homicides. And though there was no indication of threats to U.S. citizens the release said quote “There is a possibility that retaliatory violence could take place. As a precaution, the Embassy’s Regional Security Officer has advised U.S. Government personnel to avoid travel to Belize City for the time being.” Unquote. A medical team that had a scheduled visit to Belize for heart related surgeries, has heeded the warning and postponed its visit. News Five spoke to K.H.M.H. Director of Medical Services, Doctor Adrian Coye about how these patients are affected.
Dr. Adrian Coye, Director of Medical Services, K.H.M.H.
“The US travel advisory has had a limited effect on the K.H.M.H.; in my area in particular, we had a scheduled visit from a team from North Carolina for the purpose of cardiac catheterizations and also for cardiac surgery Monday and Tuesday. And based on the travel advisory, they took the position as per official advice of cancelling or differing the trip. And I guess this is a way of them protecting their willing participants of the program.”
“I’ve seen these travel advisories issued before. Do you know more or less, when the scheduled visits will now take place?”
Dr. Adrian Coye
“Well I know that we have a monthly arrangement; every month they will come. In this case we will have to wait until February for us to reactivate the program that we have. I mean it was already scheduled for February, but the way that the program works is that people are giving their time—sop they give their vacation time and things like that to come. So if that was a time allotted for them to come to Belize and if they cannot take it up, then they’ll have to negotiate from there and how to get time off again to come and help this very important and very valuable cause.”
“Do you know how many patients were affected and how you could still assist them?”
Dr. Adrian Coye
“Well the patients; we were planning to do two open heart surgeries, for example and in February we’ll do three cases as a way of catching up. And for cardiac catheterizations, we may have had maybe six or eight patients. But by February, we should have much more patients to do. the patients that we had scheduled are not emergency cases, but nevertheless do have that need and there is still relative urgency in us being able to perform these procedures and the program as it is very cognizant of all of this. And they are very sad that they are not being able to make it, but again we have to respect that they have a regulatory body and they too have to follow the rules of their officials.”
“So once another advisory is issued, you should see the program resuming within another month?”
Dr. Adrian Coye
“Absolutely. The program exists even when the visitors don’t come. It exists in a way where we can daily consult and have discussions about patients, care, management etc. The program is always happening. The visit itself is a culmination of planned activities where then on the ground they can come and we can do an amount of teaching, a number of investigations and continue to grow the program.”
Doctor Coye says that though the postponement is regrettable, the program will continue to grow.