The Ministry of Health is yet to have a substantive Director of Health Services and reports are that they are currently operating with one epidemiologist and no surveillance officer due to the recent retiremement of Lorna Perez. In an interview with Prime Minister Briceno we asked him how the ministry is functioning without these key players in the health sector.
John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “What the Ministry has done is to build a team. It’s not a one man show and we all know that under Dr.Manzanero with all due respect he was a failure as the Director of Health Services and we brought in people to hold down the COVID the surge back then and right now because the new variant has come in again we’re seeing another surge but we’re fighting every step of the way. I know that Ms.Lorna just retired and we’re in the process of finding a new person and we do have an epidemiologist on staff so it’s not like we do not have one on staff and the ministry has been functioning well without having Dr.Manzanero as the DHS.”
In an update to the staffing at the Ministry of Health, Minister Michel Chebat announced the hiring of a new Field Epidemiologist Field Officer.
Michel Chebat, Minister of Health and Wellness: “The office of the DHS is being ran by Dr.Murray who is the Deputy Director of Health Services. Ms.Lorna Perez has now retired we are looking for a replacement for her but we have an entire epidemiology unit and so we just don’t rely on one person we have already gotten a surveillance officer, Ms.Fernandez she’ll be reporting to work on the first of September so we’re good, there’s nothing to worry about.”
And while the ministry is looking to fill vacant posts there is the issue of communication. In recent months the ministry’s relationship with the media has been greatly impacted as there is no point person or spokesperson to speak with on the constantly evolving Covid-19 situation. It is a concern that the Prime Minister says he will address personally.
John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “I am disappointed to hear that the Ministry they have been a bit difficult in getting an interview and if that is so I apologize for that. I will speak with the minister and ensure that probably they must have at least a point person, it doesn’t have to be the minister all the time but one person that can give interviews. One of the things that we discussed yesterday in Cabinet though and it’s going in line with what you said that the campaign that the Ministry of Health is doing has to be a lot more aggressive and more often. We’re talking about probably having a show a few times maybe two, three times a week so that people can call in and they could answer the question like what they did before but not turn it into a circus but turn it into something serious where people can call in and they can express their concerns and their concerns can be addressed. And so communication is key in everything and so certainly I will take to the minister this morning and ask him that we need to fix that if that’s a problem and to be able to maybe appoint a person, one person that can be a point person that the media could reach out but we need people to know what is going on. We need to let people understand it is their reckless behavior that is causing is causing the problems that we’ve had. As a government we have invested millions of dollars to try to contain COVID but if you don’t do your part we can’t do it all.”