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    Local health committee listens to needs of villagers

    Local health committee listens to needs of villagers

    Photo By 2nd Lt. Kali Gradishar | Members of the Village Health Committee sell goods to local residents at the...... read more read more

    PUNTA GORDA, Belize - Village Health Committee members in Santa Theresa, Belize, rotated shifts at a food stand to host the committee's first fundraiser to raise money to better people's access to health care in the area.

    Nominated by the people of the southern Belize villages, the committee listened to the needs of the people and is taking action to better the lives of all who call that region home. The fundraiser was held at the Santa Theresa medical clinic where Belizean, Canadian and U.S. medical care providers offered free health care to Belizean people May 1-2 as part of New Horizons Belize 2014.

    New Horizons includes medical readiness training exercises that provide all three countries valuable training and experience in their respective medical fields.

    "This is our first fundraiser because we are somewhat newly-elected," said Pedro Teul, Santa Theresa Village Health Committee chairman.

    The committee worked with local health care providers to determine the best sort of fundraiser.

    One requirement for any fundraiser was that if they sold food of any sort, it had to be healthy, said Elbia Chic, Santa Theresa clinic health nurse.

    Selling bananas, oranges, home-baked bread and fresh orange juice, the committee raised funds to ensure people requiring medical attention exceeding the village health post's capabilities could get transportation into the main clinics in town.

    "There are 10 other communities that fall under the Santa Theresa Village Health Committee, and the farthest one from Santa Theresa is about 11 miles away," Teul added. "Some of the families in these remote communities are very poor and sometimes can't pay for the transportation to get to a clinic."

    There are various levels of health care available to people in these remote villages if they are able to procure the necessary transportation. Within each village, there is a health post that serves as the workplace of the community health worker. Each health worker is trained on basic medicinal skills and can provide essential rudimentary care for treating the common cold, stomach bug, pre-natal and other minor matters. If an ailment exceeds the expertise of the community health worker, the person is referred to the satellite clinic in Santa Theresa. From there, care is elevated as necessary to the Isabel Palma Polyclinic in San Antonio, then to the hospital in Punta Gorda.

    The cost to physically get to such elevated care, however, can become costly. That's where the Village Health Committee's newest initiative comes into play.

    "There is one bus and three transportation vehicles, and by car it can cost up to $70 (Belizean) to get from the village to a main clinic," said Teul. "It's cheaper for the bus. It's $4 roundtrip to get to the clinic in San Antonio and $8 roundtrip to get to the hospital in Punta Gorda; and that's just from Santa Theresa. However, people may not be able to spend half a day or an entire day just on the bus alone - not including the time they need at the clinic or hospital."

    The role of the Village Health Committee is imperative to each village in the region as committee members listen to the needs of the people and work to alleviate issues. While each member of the committee may be all ears, the decision-making process includes people in many other community roles to take the right actions for villages.

    "When we make decisions for the community, we work with the doctors, nurses and community health workers, as well as the city leaders like the Alcalde," Tuel explained. "We try to be nice and honest so the people can depend on the community's committees to do them a great service."

    Less than halfway through the first the two-day fundraiser, the committee had already raised enough money to cover initial expenses - a good sign for the outcome of the event.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 05.01.2014
    Date Posted: 05.03.2014 16:54
    Story ID: 128634
    Location: PUNTA GORDA, BZ 

    Web Views: 188
    Downloads: 0
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