Although there are hospitals and health clinics in most urban areas and towns, care is extremely limited compared with more developed countries. Serious injuries or illness may require evacuation to another country, and you should consider picking up cheap travel insurance that covers such a need—otherwise, you’re looking at US$12,000 just for the medevac transport.
Many Belizean doctors and hospitals require immediate cash payment for health services, sometimes prior to providing treatment. Uninsured travelers or travelers whose insurance does not provide coverage in Belize may face extreme difficulties if serious medical treatment is needed. International Medical Group (www.imglobal.com) is one reliable provider that offers short-term insurance specifically for overseas travelers and expats for very reasonable rates.
Belize Medical Associates (5791 St. Thomas St., tel. 501/223-0302, 501/223-0303, or 501/223-0304, bzmedasso [at] btl [dot] net, www.belizemedical.com) is the only private hospital in Belize City. They provide 24-hour assistance and a wide range of specialties. Look under “Hospitals” in the BTL yellow pages for an updated listing of other options. In San Ignacio, La Loma Luz Hospital (tel. 501/824-2087) offers primary care as well as 24-hour emergency services and is one of the best private hospitals in the country.
Medications and Prescriptions
Many medications are available in pharmacies in Belize. Definitely plan on the conservative side: Bring adequate supplies of all your prescribed medications in their original containers, clearly labeled and in date; in addition, carry a signed, dated letter from your physician describing all medical conditions and listing your medications, including their generic names. If carrying syringes or needles, carry a physician’s letter documenting their medical necessity. Pack all medications in your carry-on bag and, if possible, put a duplicate supply in the checked luggage. If you wear glasses or contacts, bring an extra pair. If you have significant allergies or chronic medical problems, wear a medical alert bracelet.
Female travelers taking contraceptives should know the generic name for the drug they use. Condoms are cheap and easy to find. Any corner pharmacy will have them, even in small towns of just a few thousand people.
Bring a Small Medical Kit
At the very minimum, consider the following items for your first-aid kit: rehydration salts , sterile bandages/gauze, moleskin for blister prevention, antiseptic cream, strong sunblock (SPF 30), aloe gel, some kind of general antibiotic for intestinal trouble, acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain/fevers, eyedrops (for dust), and anti-fungal cream (clotrimazole).
© Joshua Berman and Avalon Travel from Moon Belize, 9th Edition