The Director of Health Services, Dr Marvin Manzanero has called the statements made by a medical doctor as unfair and erroneous. Earlier this week Dr Victor Rosado spoke on the current situation in Belize’s health sector as part of the PUP’s health plan and brought harsh criticisms against the country’s health system. Love News asked Dr Manzanero to respond to the statements made during the opposition’s presentation.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “One thing I have always asked in terms of the response to SARS COV 2 is that we cannot have a political agenda pegged to it. Once you say you have a failed health system even if it’s meant to promote a specific agenda I think then indirectly you’re also saying that whoever is a part of the health system is a failure and I would hate to think that that is the message that the ground soldiers as I call them, the foot soldiers, are getting. I would not want us to be caught in that kind of rhetoric because I think it’s a very unfair statement when you have people that have been walking the villages for the past four days trying to look for persons. We have never said we live in a perfect health system I think we are perfectly well aware of what our limitations are and that is why we have embarked on this prevention public health footing if you will because we know that we don’t have big hospitals we don’t want to overwhelm it and if having a perfect health system or a system that is a successful one would mean that you have twenty ventilators in a flashy hospital then I guess you can determine that that’s a failure. Even if you have twenty ventilators we don’t have the health staff for that I mean we don’t have intensivists that can go and manage ventilation units. As is I think Karl Heusner only has one, the country has less than five intensivists in the entire country so once you know your limitations once you know what you have you work with what you have. I mean people talking about a failed epidemiology unit and I think that’s part of the feedback we got yesterday – I mean we didn’t hear it but that’s what we were told how do you go about adjusting it when there’s three epidemiologists and I don’t know that there are many out there that can actually be doing and churning up the work that’s being done on a daily basis. You have to work with what you have, you have to live with the realities of what you have and once you area aware of where your strengths and your weaknesses are you try to capitalize on that. We know that we don’t have a perfect ICU unit so what do you try to do? Prevention. I mean at the end of the day what you want to do is avoid people from overwhelming the ventilation mechanism. We only have three right now I mean if you note where people have died anchoring your response to primary prevention path is where we should be aiming for. I mean I know where are now, where we were in January and I think where we should go but beyond that I think rather than us losing energy to try to defend every single stone that’s now being thrown at the Ministry of Health I think it’s unfair. I mean even if it’s intended for me or whoever in the Ministry of Health at the end of the day we have to realize it’s a health system of which we are all a part even private sector.”
The Prime Minister also commented on the statements by Dr Rosado, and shared Dr Mazanero’s sentiments about not politicizing the health of Belizeans. Additionally, the PM spoke at length about what the government has already done to assist the country.
Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “All I will say is this from what you report he seems to be talking about the health system generally and I’m sure there have been challenges over the years. We in the Ministry of Health, in the Government of Belize are concentrating our efforts on dealing with the pandemic. Anybody that suggests that our dedicated professionals in the Ministry of Health have not been giving of their absolute best needs to have his or head examined and certainly would be doing an injustice to the Ministry of Health personnel, to all front line workers. Health apart, this government is focused on trying to deliver core services to the people of this country at a time when the contraction in revenues makes that difficult. Just yesterday you had the Minister of Agriculture give a press conference you had confirmation of the $8 million US dollars that I talked about from the start when I first got in touch with Madam Tasism Said Khan at the World Bank that money has now come on stream apart from the $13 million that already is being disbursed for assistance with social protection. Ministry of Agriculture has restarted the cattle export this time in a perfectly legal and legitimate fashion. I just saw from Dr.Barnett that phase two of the unemployment relief program is now really getting up to speed we’ve sorted out most of the kinks – again there is still something like $40 million dollars or so in that unemployment relief pool. We just had approved at the parliament the loan motion for the $10 million US that we’re getting from OFID/OPEC for the continued roll out and expansion of the food assistance program. We got monies from other IFIs I certainly the IDB helped both with unemployment relief and the World Bank certainly has assisted with respect to the food assistance so there’s this confluence of funding sources that this government has been able to unlock and that has put us in a position where of course everything isn’t perfect but in all the circumstances we have been able to deliver on the basics for the people of this country, we have not fired a single public officer, we have not cut a single public officer’s pay that continues, is, has been and will be up until the calling of the elections the focus of the government of this country and basically I have no time to deal with the naysayers.”