Caye Caulker Gets Its Clinics
For years, Caye Caulker residents and visitors have had to suffice with a woefully inadequate health center that only provided limited services. They had to hope that they didn't have any major medical emergencies, because then they'd have to endure the hour long boat ride to Belize City to get proper attention. But all that will change soon because the new Caye Caulker Health Clinic is supposed to begin construction in two weeks. Today, the ground was broken and residents across the island let out a sigh of relief, knowing they'll soon have a proper clinic. Courtney Menzies was at the ceremony, and has this story.
Caye Caulker residents will have one less thing to worry about with the construction of a new health center. In the past, they were forced to transfer patients via boat in emergencies, sometimes even in rough and storm seas. But ground was broken today and in about a year's time, they can expect the center to be opened.
The chairlady explained what a relief this new project is to the residents especially since they've been working on it since 2017.
Seleny Villanueva Pott, Chairlady, Caye Caulker
"In my speech I shared some encounters of when we have to transfer patients via boat, to know that that will change very soon is heartwarming and to know that the entire community from all ages will benefit from this is beyond exciting."
"We've seen our emergency system evolve because first it was primarily by boat but with the assistance of our area rep, Andre Perez, we now have BERT flying in and out especially in the daytime so we've transition far and to know the project is just about to happen, it's great for us."
"I believe the community will be better prepared, we will not have to have the transfer as such, we will not have to transfer the patients at nighttime because that's our main concern, not only for the person being transferred but also for safety reason. We're so used to boating it at night with patients but to know that they may be able to get the medical attention they need here at home is comforting."
And as the area rep pointed out, this project was long overdue, especially in a much visited village - where both locals and tourists go to enjoy the sun and sea.
Hon. Andre Perez, Area Rep, Belize Rural South
"We break ground as a symbol of the start of this very important project. Caye Caulker has always been known as La Isla Carinosa but we all can attest and it is a act that the past 15 years, it was abandoned and neglected with very little to no essential services being made available to the people of this island. The neglect was so bad that even the SSB closed its doors a couple of years ago, adding insult to injury. But yet the people of this amazing village worked tirelessly and diligently continuing to contribute significantly to the economy of our country. The fishing industry has been thriving as lobster and crab claws are the signature hallmark of Caye Caulker all thanks to the passion and dedication of the fisher folk of this island."
"And so today it marks the symbolic start of giving back to Caye Caulker what is had justly earned and what it deserves."
But this project almost didn't happen, since the previous administration couldn't identify a proper location. That's when the then village council went to work, giving up the area they had selected for a sport center. And even though there was a lull in the project - followed by the pandemic - the work is finally starting.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister
"I'm excited to finally be able to look to the citizens of Caye Caulker and said we will start the building of the clinic. As we mentioned earlier, we were almost at the point of losing that money but we want to thank the village council who quickly thought on their feet and said that they will use a portion of this area that was designated for a sports center, so we want to thank them. And also to say that we want to continue to work and to bring more development to the people of the village."
The Minister of Health outlined the services the island residents can now expect to benefit from.
Hon. Michel Chebat, Minister of Health
"This rapidly growing community has outgrown the current health center. There is no room for expansion, nor a proper emergency and observation room. Caye Caulker is one of Belize's prime tourist destination therefore it deserves adequate health care facility for both residents and visitors. This groundbreaking ceremony is the beginning of the process of making this a reality."
"The ever increasing threat of non communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heat disease, cancer, and mental health conditions require a robust primary care system to address these deadly condition. This health facility will make a difference in the early diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of these conditions. Other services that will be provided include maternal and child health, out patient consultation, emergency care, mental health and services related to vector control and public health."
The funding for the clinic is through a loan by the Caribbean Development Bank, through the Social Investment Fund. The value is at 1.4 million dollars.