A major concern expressed by health care workers across the country is the lack of resources. At the KHMH, the nation’s flagship hospital, medication as basic as Tylenol is hard to obtain. The shortage is not new to the hospital, but according to President of the KHMHAU, Andrew Baird, since the Briceno Administration took office the situation has worsened. Earlier today, Baird spoke about the issue surrounding the procurement of medication which he says has to do with logistics.
Andrew Baird, President, KHMHA, Workers Union: “There has been some shortages of certain medications from ever since but at this time from what my knowledge is, it’s even worse at this time. I’m a hypertensive. I can’t even get my hypertensive medication from the pharmacy where I work because there is none. So I have to go purchase at the drugstores or so. I can only imagine the person on the south side or so that cannot even afford the medication when there is supplies but now there’s shortage, how do these people live on? I want to say that in the Plan Belize, the Government had made certain manifesto promises to improve the health system and to improve the working conditions for the healthcare workers and I want to say to the Prime Minister and the Ministers of Government that you need to go back to that Plan Belize and look at it and come to the table and see how we can get the necessary supplies that is needed. I know that sometimes there’s a bottleneck between the CSME and Karl Heusner. We need to fix that bottleneck.”
This evening the media asked Health and Wellness Minister Kevin Bernard about this particular issue. Minister Bernard explained that the ministry of working arduously in addressing the matter of the shortage of medication.
Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health & Wellness: “Now there’s many other issues that have been raised by the Nurses Association of Belize and one of them having to do with the main other problem as well, lack of medication, lack of supplies. They have mentioned that some areas they did not have cause. But let me also say this to members of the media that it is also a human factor when it comes to making sure that your inventory requests or requisitions are sent in on time. We recently conducted the tender process, as you are aware. The contracts have been issued to various suppliers and we have made the call out to the suppliers from the past week to ensure that these deliveries can start to come in on a timely basis and that discussion was also had with the Nursing Association of Belize last week Monday where we made assurances that over the next three weeks, by the end of September we should stabilise those issues and the regions and all the various facilities should be getting their medication and medical supplies in a timely manner. We are also looking at the internal procedures in terms of how people make requests from the regions to the Central Medical Store and how timely that delivery is done back to the regions and so those are things that we have been putting in place, ladies and gentlemen and in order to improve the delivery of this type of service that we offer our people. Again as you know, and there is nothing I can say that is no different. Across this Government there were many abandonment in many of these ministries and the Ministry of Health was a part of that. I mean when I came in as the minister and I know my predecessor had also complained about that. Many of our facilities are run down and it requires serious budget allocation for infrastructural development.”
Dangriga Area Representative, Dr. Louis Zabaneh, says he has lobbied for the nurses at the Southern Regional Hospital. According to Dr. Zabaneh, the situation has worsened due to a lack of resources and not enough funds being injected into the institutions.
Dr. Louis Zabaneh, Minister of State in the Ministry of Education: “It’s a question of having very limited resources as a developing country if you look at it from a macro level. I believe now that there’s focus on his matter. That the necessary resources will be made available to those institutions. We are providing a very important service to our community. We in the south always say sometimes we end up being considered towards the end. But, I’m confident from the conversations that I’ve had, myself, and the Mayor, and Minister Ferguson, we have been aware of this setting and we have made representation on behalf of our people and I feel that now, those resources will be coming that are necessary for providing the important service that the members of our community deserve. At this point I know, I’ve been in close communication with the Minister of Health and he is working vigorously on this matter. I believe he will be meeting with them tomorrow in Dangriga. I’m sure meeting with all those concerned and I feel confident that, given what I have been informed, that their concerns will be addressed.”