PUNTA GORDA, Belize --
From security and logistics to medical care and patient processing, the Belizean health workers have been vital in New Horizons Belize 2014.
Belizeans can continue to receive free medical care and health education until May 9 through Belizean health care workers and Canadian and U.S. military care providers participating in New Horizons. New Horizons includes medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETEs, that offer medical health professionals from all three countries the opportunity to train and interact with one another.
Community health workers from various remote villages volunteered their time to assist with New Horizons medical care in the five villages where care is being provided. Such volunteers are imperative to ensuring the people receive the best care possible.
"We know the people, and we know the language," said Juan Imish, Belizean community health worker from the remote village of Santa Theresa. "We work together with the (New Horizons medical) team ... so the patient can get the proper health care service.
"It's a major benefit because people don't have to spend their money to go all the way in town looking for health care," he said.
Transportation to get to a main clinic in the Toledo District can take anywhere from a few hours to an entire day or more.
While providing two weeks of free care to local Belizeans through the New Horizons exercise is important, ensuring the community health workers, as well as the patients, continue a proper care regimen is imperative to the health of people in the villages.
"We'll be continuing to work with them after (the team leaves)," Imish said. "We'll encourage them to continue to do what the doctors advise them."
Additionally, the Toledo District health educator and assistant health educator will make sure each village's community health worker is properly trained and people's needs are addressed.
"We receive training as to how you can take blood pressure, how you can take a pulse, a normal reading for glucose and blood pressure, how to weigh and measure a baby, when to refer a baby to a hospital," said Sofia Bol, the Toledo District assistant health educator. "The health workers came to the clinic (for the practical training, so) all of them know how to do ... all the basic things."
On top of the basic training for the health educators and health workers, the health care team conducts monthly meetings and training. The health educators also visit each village regularly to conduct health education classes for the men, women and children there.
These are not new initiatives, though, said Bol. Many of these actions have been ongoing for at least the past three years she has been in the position, and while there is always great room for improvement, things have been getting better.
"(The community health educator) strictly deals with community health workers, supervision, community meetings and trainings. I am just for the villages to go out and talk to the people about health, plan for health fairs, supervise any team that comes here and go out with them," Bol explained. "Whatever diseases we see, we have to be there to educate people about them."
Both Bol and Imish will continue to play a part in the New Horizons medical readiness training exercise through the end of the event.
Free medical care is being provided May 1-2 in Santa Theresa, May 5-6 in Blue Creek, May 8-9 in Jalacte, and May 1-2 and May 5-9 in San Antonio.
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