The GLI Belize began in 2017 with the purpose of strengthening the medical capabilities of the laboratories of the public health system of the country. Specifically, it acts in the offices of the Hospitals, Dangriga, (in the Stann Creek district), at the health centers of San Antonio and Santa Teresa (in Toledo's district) and in the Chunox and San Narciso health centers in the north of the country. The program is carried out jointly with UNICEF Spain, UNICEF Belize and the Ministry of Health of Belize.
Belize is located on the east coast of Central America, with borders to the north with Mexico and to the south and west with Guatemala. It has a population of 344,000 people, of which 3 out of 5 are under 25 years old (58%). With an area of 23,000 km2, Belize is one of the countries with the lowest population density and least populated in the world.
In 2009, the last analysis on the situation of poverty in the country was carried out. According to these data, 41,3% of the population lives in extreme poverty, with unsatisfactory health conditions and almost half of this group (15,8%) are indigent (people who lack the means to buy food). Poverty levels in rural areas are two times higher (43%) than those detected in urban areas (21%). In the districts of Toledo and Stann Creek, the poverty rate is 46% and 32%, respectively. Some of the most relevant health indicators in the country are the following:
- In the district of Toledo, the percentage of unvaccinated children is higher than the national average: 7% in the district compared to 4,7% of the national level.
- Chronic malnutrition affects 17,5% of children living in rural areas and 33,2% of children living in the southern district of Toledo areas.
- Only 33,2% of babies receive breastfeeding (a practice that they want to promote).
- It is estimated that the HIV prevalence rate is 1,4% among the population aged 15 to 49 years, with the number of men living with HIV 50% higher than that of women.
The projects' goals
Mainly, the improvements are focus on the country's capacity for early detection and accurate diagnosis. Besides, ensure medical management adequacy of diseases affecting the population of Toledo and Stann Creek. In addition, they have the following challenges:
- Improve the capabilities of 3 laboratories in southern Belize (Dangriga, San Antonio and Santa Theresa) so that they can offer a medical service adapted to the needs of the inhabitants of those areas.
- Increase the skills of laboratory staff and doctors by providing services to the most vulnerable [maternal and child] population during the most critical periods of pregnancy, give birth and the postnatal period.
The projects' impacts
With reference to the direct beneficiaries of the project, approximately 16.000 people from the districts of Toledo and Stann Creek are estimated. Of these, 11.500 are women and 3,850 are children under 15 years old. The indirect beneficiaries of the project are approximately 76.000 people, 37.600 of these are women and 27.000 are children under 15 years old.
It is noted that a satisfactory implementation of each action will help to increase the technical capabilities of laboratory implementation and can stimulate the interest of potential donors and further strengthen the medical service of Belize.
The impact of GLI has prompted the country's Ministry of Health to consider including diagnostic labs in health centers in remote communities.