|Should profit take priority of health? In the U.S., the answer |
is yes. Photo courtesy of PR Watch.
by douglas reeser on December 13, 2013.
With the recent roll-out of the Affordable Care Act in the U.S., the health care system has come under scrutiny and has garnered much media attention. I am currently working on my dissertation that, in part, examines the national health care system in the small Caribbean nation of Belize. Having spent about 2 years living and researching how people maintain their health, and what they do and when they do it when they get sick, I was able to get an up-close and detailed look at the challenges, successes, and shortfalls of a national health insurance scheme.
In Belize, the national health care system is run by the Ministry of Health, which operates the 2 arms of the public health system: NHI (the National Health Insurance scheme), and the BHIS (the Belize Health Information System). The BHIS is basically a surveillance system, that has over 90% of the population's health records in the system. Once someone is in the BHIS, they can visit any health facility in the country, including rural clinics, hospitals, private doctors, and even pharmacies, and their complete health records will be available for the provider. The BHIS, in theory, provides patients with more effective treatment and medication, and allows the Ministry of Health to more quickly identify broader public health needs and emergencies.
The NHI is the part of the Belize health system that provides care. Available to any citizen, NHI provides access to health care at any of the country's rural health clinics, the more comprehensive policlinics, as well hospital care. My research, conducted in a rural and somewhat isolated part of the country, showed a number of problems with how the NHI services were staffed, funded, and provided. I've chosen to highlight these aspects of the system in my dissertation, as a service to the people in Belize who were so hospitable towards me, and who rely on the services of NHI.