What challenges did you observe in Belize that can/may hamper global health efforts? How, why?
Global health is a necessary field of work because there are so many countries that lack in medical progress and need the aid of other more developed nations. Global health efforts have been successful in the past in doing things like surgeries in rural areas, getting expectant mothers necessary maternal care, and in fixing things like club foot or cleft lip and palate. Though there have been many successful cases of these initiatives, it has not been easy for any of them due to cultural obstacles, lack of infrastructure, and many other societal barriers. When coming up with a global health initiative it is necessary to understand the culture in order to adapt a working solution.
Belize like many other developing nations has had many global health initiatives started in the area. It too has faced a variety of challenges in implementing change throughout the country. One of the biggest obstacles, that the doctors even tell is, is the serious lack of trained medical professionals, both in hospitals and in private clinics across the country. Something I noticed during the hospital visit was that they did have a variety of specialties and doctors that people could see like obstetricians, orthopedic surgeons, or pediatricians, but they would only be open specific days of the week. The obstetrician for example is only offered Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and the surgeon specialist is only open Thursday. This is likely because there are only a couple trained physicians in these specialties and so they may rotate hospitals. Thus, if someone needed help immediately at a specific hospital they may not have the right staff available to do the job. Additionally, the lack of doctors makes wait times very long. Specifically on the day we visited there was a global health group, LEAP, doing cleft lip and palate surgeries for free. It was an amazing initiative, but what I noticed was that the waiting room was extremely crowded and I wondered how long the wait would be for someone who wasn’t at the hospital for the cleft lip or palate surgeries. Though it is fantastic that groups like LEAP come to Belize to help with these issues, the hospital lacks the room or staffing to potentially make room for these efforts.
Another big problem I saw that could hinder global health issues is non-compliance in the people we treated. Because many medications are so readily available, people do not see the urgency in taking their medicine on a regular basis. This ends up making health conditions worsen to the point where they are hard to treat. Another issue I saw was that when we were in rural areas giving people medication, we only could give them maybe enough to last a month. So while we were helping mask the problem temporarily, many of these people may not even have the means to go buy more medication. Once they run out of the free medication they may not see the need to get anymore. If there were more clinics set up, especially in rural areas, I think the issue of non-compliance would go down. Also if we had people in country who were able to follow up with the patients we treated, I think it would be a good way to gauge if what we were doing was effective.
Though there are many obstacles to global health efforts in Belize, I believe that with more time and money put in, more of these issues will be solved. With the government paying for people to go to medical school, this will help staff hospitals and clinics and will make healthcare available for people all over the country of Belize.