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552 Police Officers Registered to N.H.I. Under Newly Signed S.S.B. M.O.U.

Mar 15, 2023

552 Police Officers Registered to N.H.I. Under Newly Signed S.S.B. M.O.U.

Five hundred and fifty-two police officers have been registered to the National Health Insurance program. This morning, the Social Security Board and the Belize Police Department signed a first-of-its-kind Memorandum of Understanding that will see an exchange of services between the two entities. News Five’s Paul Lopez was at the signing in Belize City. He filed the following report.

Paul Lopez, Reporting

This morning, the Belize Police Department and the Social Security Board signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will see more than five hundred police officers from Precincts One and Two benefit from quality and affordable healthcare services through the National Health Insurance program.

Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs

“It’s, it’s the first time ever that something like this is being done, uh, whereby some 500 plus police officers attached to the Belize District, uh, formation will have access to primary healthcare services. And as you rightly pointed out, um, we do face a lot of challenges. Our officers, um, a lot of them suffer with hypertension, with diabetes, with obesity. And so the primary care services, uh, that will be offered, which also include a health, uh, mental health aspect to it, um, is certainly something that is much needed and in my opinion, uh, overdue.”

The trade-off is that the Belize Police Department will be providing training for security personnel at the five NHI clinics across Belize City, following an increase in reports of violence at these health facilities. Additionally, there will be increased police patrols in these areas. Several officers have also been identified as persons to contact in the event an incident occurs.

Ramon Figueroa

Dr. Ramon Figueroa, General Manager, N.H.I.

“But most of the, of the threats have occurred either at Matron Roberts, BMA and BHP, Belize Health Care Partners. Remember, the clinics are located in the outside. Everybody knows that’s southside you tend to have certain outbursts every once in a while. Um, and then we have had some actual patients that have threatened the doctors or nurses. So those are the, the, the conditions under which they work every single day. And so they, they had expressed their concerns to us and, um, that’s why we had approached the police department to see how we can improve security at the, at the different facilities.”

Howell Gillett

ACP Howell Gillett, National Commander, Community Oriented Policing

“It started in 2018, if you could recall there were some shooting near to the Matron Roberts Clinic. At that time as the south side commander we had to put a booth n the Magazine Road, because there were gang members from one area and from another area and they would come, because gang members also have health issues and they would meet up at the same clinic. It was so horrible that there was a murder in that area. So, we started to lobby the health ministry to see what could be done to work out some kind of partnership to, yes we want to lower crime but at the same time, police officers are human beings and they have health issues also.”

For the five hundred and fifty-two officers being registered to the NHI program under this MOU, they will be able to keep their subscription even if they are transferred to a new precinct. Officers joining any one of the two precincts that falls under the MOU will also be able to register to the program.

Kareem Musa

“So that is one way in which the numbers will go up, because if an officer is transferred to another part of the country They will still fall under the coverage of the NHI. And so, um, like I said, the five hundred and fifty-two or so officers that are currently posted, uh, in these precincts will receive coverage and that coverage will continue with them whichever part of the country they go.”

Paul Lopez

“And the new ones?”

Kareem Musa

“And the new ones will be able to subscribe as well.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.