Finding Spaces for Local Doctors in Belize

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Updated: December 28, 2016

For some years now there have been complaints from certain sections of the community regarding the high number of foreign doctors operating in our local hospitals.  With consideration that there are many locals that have been going away to Cuba and other countries to study medicine, Love News asked the Director of Health Services, Dr Marvin Manzanero, on whether Belizean doctors are being blocked from operating in our medical facilities due to placement of foreign doctors.

DR MARVIN MANZANERO

“What is happening is that Belizean doctors trained in Cuba are required to do a one year internship at Karl Heusner or at the Northern Regional Hospital or the Western Regional Hospital. Traditionally we have had members of the Cuban brigade come and do medical services for Belize. These are doctors that have graduated and have been working in Cuba. What we have been doing over the last couple of years is shifting away from bringing medical officers from the Cuban brigade so that we are offering employment to those Belizeans who are trained in Cuba. I believe for example that 19 officers completed their internship a couple of months ago, I can tell you that about 80% of those people have been employed so they are gradually replacing those medical officers that were members of the Cuban brigade. The intention is to eventually replace the all the medical officers that are from the Cuban brigade so that we will only be having specialties that we don’t have in Belize coming from Cuba.”

RENEE TRUJILLO

“Wouldn’t that put some sort of damper on the diplomatic relations with Cuba?”

DR MARVIN MANZANERO

“I don’t believe so. It wasn’t envisioned that the Cuban brigade was going to be here forever. They were there to suffice a need that we didn’t’ have personnel for. I think that with the Belizean people that are being trained we are gradually able to take care of those primary health care needs.”

As for the quality of the healthcare services, Dr Manzanero says that in addition to the training received abroad, the Belizean doctors are required to do a one-year internship in Belize.

DR MARVIN MANZANERO

“Which is one of the reasons they are lead through a one year internship program with Belizean doctors so that they are also aware of the Belizean healthcare system. We are also trying to send these very same people to those specialty trainings. For example for the seven doctors that are going to El Salvador five of them are coming from Cuban Schools of Medicine. We are exploring other possibilities of sending other doctors to other places other than Cuba as a means of sufficing that identified need.”

Dr Marvin Manzanero is the Director of Health Services for Belize and was appointed to serve in that capacity in December 2015.