The Word is “infrastructure”

The Word is “infrastructure”

May 15th was a historical day for the residents of the Placencia Peninsula as the new Placencia Polyclinic was officially opened.  The inaugural ribbon was cut and a new era and standard of medical care immediately became real for locals and visiting tourists. The new polyclinic is equipped with two laboratories, a maternity ward, an asthma room, a trauma room, a staff area, multiple restrooms, and a spacious air conditioned lobby. The clinic was strategically built near the Placencia airstrip for patients needing immediate evacuation. The gravelled compound is manicured and spacious enough to fit the polyclinic’s new and modern ambulance. For residents of Placencia, the polyclinic is not just another facility, it is a symbol of the peninsula’s development and influence as a major tourism destination in Belize. Tourism and non-tourism stakeholders in the area welcomed the investment as a sort of fiscal reprieve and testament to the community’s role in the tourism sector. It has been a long journey, but finally, Placencia Village, Seine Bight Village, and the Maya Beach and Riversdale communities now have easier access to medical treatment today. Bringing the polyclinic into fruition, took a partnership of local and international proportions.

As the story goes, three Ministers, three ministries, a foundation, and a resort got together and they all chipped in to build a polyclinic. After the Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations, Hon. Anthony Mahler, was contacted by the Minister of Public Utilities, Energy, and Logistics, Hon. Rodwell Ferguson, about the much needed facility for the area, the two contacted the Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Kevin Bernard, and at the start and end of all the discussions, was the word ‘infrastructure’. The entire Placencia Peninsula has approximately six thousand permanent residents. Its tourism infrastructure is and depends on the electricity, water, security, and road infrastructure. As Minister Mahler puts it, when it comes to tourism there are “inter-sectorial linkages”. The power and water infrastructure on the peninsula are especially important in ensuring the polyclinic meets it mandate to provide reliable medical care. Residents and visitors of the Placencia Peninsula will no longer have to decide between the polyclinic in Independence Village or the Southern Regional Hospital in Dangriga Town to seek medical care for major ailments. The Heineman-Robicsek Foundation, a United States charity organization that believes in medical outreach to underserved communities, donated the medical equipment for the polyclinic. Itz’ana Resort also partnered with the local village council to help make the 24-hour medical service on the peninsula a reality. As Theresa Johnson, a representative from Heineman-Robicsek Foundation, puts it, “The clinic is a beacon of care equipped to handle the diverse needs of the community “and it will “also be a catalyst for economic growth”. The polyclinic was born out of a dire need for better medical infrastructure and the determination and generosity of people who hold Placencia near and dear to their hearts. Combined, with the vision and determination of the Hon. Anthony Mahler, Placencia’s and Belize’s overall tourism infrastructure have a little more care to offer residents and tourists alike.

For extra security, the polyclinic is also equipped with a generator and water reserves. Even as the inaugural speeches were being made, the first patients were already being taken care of. The old Health Centre, built sometime in the late 70’s, will continue to serve the community as living quarters for the medical staff. Placencia is a resilient community that has rebuilt its infrastructure following natural disasters and maintained it even during economic down turns. If you did not know, Placencia has “The Narrowest Main street in the World” according to the Guinness World Records. As of May 15, 2024, it now has its own Polyclinic and you can put that on the record too.

Chat again later.

Jasmine Anderson

For the Belize Tourism Board