The Real, Real First Doctor

ow that the San Pedro Hospital is underway, we hope to have several doctors in various fields of medicine. Preliminary plans call for eye specialist, dental surgeon, general practitioners, emergency specialist and pharmacist. Indeed we have a lot of grounds to cover yet in the field of health.

Do you know who was the first doctor to offer medical services to San Pedro? It was a doctor working in Belize City; Dr. Manuel Lizama was his name. On his own initiative, because he knew there was a need, Dr. Lizama flew in once a week to San Pedro with his black bag and a few boxes of medicines. This was in the early 70's just before the San Pedro Lion's clinic was built.

Dr. Lizama's office was a little house owned by Mr. Apolono "Tuto" Alamilla, who kindly allowed the good doctor to practise there free of cost for the benefit of all Sanpedranos. The little house was right in the middle of the yard where present day Alijua Building is located.

Today we complain because of the inadequate number of doctors and insufficient medical services in San Pedro with a population of about 18,000 and thus the increased need for such vital services. Dr. Lizama only served San Pedro once a week and it seemed that people waited for that day very patiently. In fact, there were some days when the good doctor came and only had one or two patients with minor problems. You need to remember that at the time of Dr. Lizama, there was a population of some 500 persons, so that was one doctor to 500 persons. Today we have about 8 medical doctors on the island with a large population so our ratio must be one doctor to some 2,000 persons.

Dr. Lizama was the pioneer in medical services. Eventually his services called for more time in San Pedro, and he began working house calls as well. It was this need of a full- time doctor that motivated the Lions to work towards the first clinic with a full time doctor which was accomplished in, 1978, three years after the Lions Club was formed and chartered.

I see Dr. Manuel Lizama's address as 158 North Front Street, Belize City and his phone number as 33381. When you cross path with him, say thanks to him for being a good pioneer in medical services.

The first doctor to live permanently and offer 7 days a week service to San Pedro is our very good Dr. Otto Rodriquez who has been with us since the Lion's Clinic was established. He came to San Pedro from El Salvador with his lovely wife, Mireya and his 2 baby boys, Otto and Henry.

To our first visiting doctor and our first resident. doctor San Pedro says "Muchas Gracias."

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