The Association of Clinical Laboratory Science of Belize is heaping criticism on the Ministry of Health and Wellness for its decision to send persons without lab training for a course in gene sequencing. According to the association, the person sent only has undergraduate studies in neuroscience and lacks the necessary experience to use the opportunity and help the country meaningfully. Spokeswoman for the association, Zarsha Robinson-Thompson says that there were many qualified people both in the public and private sectors that got passed over.
Zarsha Robinson Thompson, Public Relations, Association of Clinical Laboratory Science of Belize: “The person sent has not been officially employed by the Ministry of Health. She is not on contract she is actually a sessional working meaning she’s paid based on the number of hours she’s there and not fully in the system, she’s not an employee. There are countless medical technologists at Central Medical Lab, at the district labs and at private labs if they don’t want to choose somebody in the public domain that are more than qualified and capable as medical technologists to do this, to go and take the training. She is not a medical technologist. She has a Bachelor’s degree but in neuroscience not medical technology, she has no actual practical lab training whatsoever. From the opinion of the association rather it disrespects our degree, it disrespects all the hard work that all of us have put in by choosing somebody who has not done anything lab related in Belize or elsewhere outside of the country. We are trained professionals, we are more than qualified to do gene sequencing or rather to take the training. We have the mindset, the capacity to do so; she does not. Why choose somebody who has no training whatsoever ? None whatsoever to take a position or to do a training that a lot of more than qualify and would be willing to do.”
The training is being provided by Baylor College in Texas, whose medical lab was able to assist Belize in detecting various variants of COVID-19. Thompson says that the Ministry must consider more carefully, who is sent for the training especially at a time when frontline workers are essential in the fight against the coronavirus.
Zarsha Robinson Thompson, Public Relations, Association of Clinical Laboratory Science of Belize: “The PCR machine is sensitive, it’s specialized. She has not even the basic lab training. How then would she be able to comprehend or grasp the information necessary to handle or deal with this machine, troubleshooting even on a daily basis ? So if any error should arise how would she be able to troubleshoot it ? I’m hoping that they train her for that but in the event that they don’t we don’t know exactly what the training is for. In the event that they don’t we’re left with our hands behind our back if she’s the person we’re supposed to rely on to give us the proper results of COVID-19 and the different variants in the country. We’re raising the alarm, the medical technologists are not happy with this decision and we’re tired of being looked over. So in the future we’d like that we are consulted if not consulted they choose medical technologists that are more than qualified. Somebody needs to be employed for two years before they’re qualified for training, this person was employed since July that’s a slap in the face. There are so many technologists there that are employed for two years, consider them. If you don’t to use Central Lab us district labs, if you don’t want to use governmental staff then use private staff they have options. Choose from the pool that they have rather than going elsewhere, it’s not necessary.”
The ACLSB says it demands from the Ministry fair and transparent selection of public officers for training as stipulated in the Belize Public Service Regulations. They add that having the wrong person getting specialized lab training may cost the country a lot.