Over $700,000 has been allocated from the Petrocaribe funds to start the 24-hour medical service to the island’s only public health facility – The Dr Otto Rodriguez San Pedro PolyClinic II. The use of the funds were approved by the Prime Minister months ago but have been sitting in the government coffers ever since. Minister of Health Honorable Pablo Marin confirmed that the expansion of service will come into effect by the end of December, but has given December 15th as the targeted date. The Ministry of Health is speeding up the effort to put in place the mechanism to get the 24-hour service rolling.
According to Marin, all the necessary steps have been taken to ensure the sustainability of the service for the long term. When asked what the delay in the decision was, since the monies were allocated months ago and he had promised that the service was to start in by September, Marin said, “The funds are now in place for us to employ the workers for the 24-hours service. It was not about disbursing the monies that was the delay, but the actual hiring of doctors and nurses who are willing to come to the island. In the past, when we sent doctors to the island, after being here, they realized it is expensive to live there and so they would move off the island. We had to work around that to get doctors to come,” explained Marin.
In addition to the current staff, the Ministry will now hire additional staff to allow uninterrupted medical services on the island. The auxiliary staff will be hired from the island, but the professional workers such as doctors and nurses will be hired from mainland Belize. The Minister of Health also indicated that while the facility will be opened for 24 hours, the next step is to find a place and funding to convert the service from a clinic to a full-fledged hospital on the island.
Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun