The healthcare system in Belize

The healthcare system in Belize
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Updated 2021-01-08 13:57

Belize has a multiple layer healthcare system, including public and private hospitals, as well as regional and rural clinics. Before traveling to Belize, you should seek information on your specific health care concerns. You should also consider subscribing to an expat insurance before moving. Level one trauma care is not available in Belize, and medical evacuation alone is quite expensive.

The largest public hospital, Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, is located in Belize. This hospital has highly qualified staff and specialists in various medical fields, but due to a number of problems, including funding, the facility has been riddled with mix-ups and equipment failures. The private facilities are definitely better equipped and funded, but you will not find Western standard medical care in Belize. Belize Medical Associates is the closest thing to Western care.

Alternative medicine in Belize

Belize has a rich tradition of alternative or 'bush' medicine. Mayans, Garifuna, and Kriol all have histories and knowledge of the healing properties of many rainforest plants. Simply ask around for Bush Drs or Shamans. Many modern pharmaceuticals are based on rainforest plants.

Cost of healthcare in Belize

The public system provides free basic care for all Belizeans and visitors, including emergency room care, prenatal care, urgent care, basic medications, and doctor visits. Specialized care, labs, and certain medications cost money, but it is much cheaper than the US. Private care also costs significantly less than the US but a good bit more than Mexico or Guatemala.

Private health insurance in Belize

To benefit from optimised health coverage, foreign nationals are advised to subscribe for private international health insurance before moving to Belize.

There are many insurance companies to choose from, according to your needs and budget. Some of the leading health insurance providers are:

Consider having a look at their offers according to your needs and get a free quote on Expat.com's Health Insurance for expatriates in Belize page.

Vaccinations required

To date, there is no compulsory vaccination for travelling to Belize. However, you are required to be vaccinated against yellow fever if you come from a country where the disease is present.

Health risks in Belize

Once in Belize, you must be protected against tetanus, hookworm and strongyloidiasis, which are diseases that you might catch if you walk barefoot, leptospirosis, which is a disease that can be contracted while swimming in stagnant water, and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and others. Simple, common-sense precautions, such as appropriate footwear and condoms, will protect you from a host of issues.

Water is safe throughout the country, as is street food. However some people are more sensitive than others, and a simple change in bacteria may be enough to cause 'bad belly' for some people.

Dengue fever and malaria are periodically problematic, more so in remote areas in the south during the rainy season. Again, simple precautions help. Wear appropriate clothing and repellents, sleep in protected areas (screens or mosquito nets), and avoid going outside at dawn and dusk. There are also smoke coils that can be burned that will keep away most biting insects. These can be purchased at any grocery store. Dengue and malaria are certainly much worse in many other areas of the world.

There are a wide variety of poisonous snakes in Belize and a few species of poisonous scorpions and spiders. If you are travelling deep into the jungle, it is wise to carry a snake bite kit. Otherwise, if you suspect a poisonous snake bite, get to medical attention quickly. Some of the snake bites can be lethal, but all Belizean doctors are well trained in dealing with snake bites.

Useful tips

You should wear long clothing to avoid mosquito bites and avoid sun exposure for long hours. Be sure to bring high SPF sunscreen and a variety of oils or bug repellents. Belize is a tropical rainforest, and the biodiversity includes the insect world. There is a wide variety of biting insects, and they don't all respond to any repellent.

Useful links:

April International en.april-international.com
ASFE Expat www.asfe-https://www.expat.com
International Health Insurance www.international-health-insurance.com
Belize Ministry of Health health.gov.bz
Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital www.khmh.bz

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.