An immediate apology: that’s what the UDP says it is demanding from Prime Minister John Briceno to Doctor Marvin Manzanero. It follows his comment on the Medical Practice (Amendment) Bill. That’s the legislation that was tabled today, which essentially splits the post of Director of Health Service to a Director of Hospital Services and a Director of Public Health and Wellness. It is seen as the Briceno government’s way to sidestep Doctor Manzanero, who was the DHS up until he faced opposition when the Briceno government came to office last November. For context, here is PM Briceno explaining the rationale behind the decision to abolish the seat of the DHS.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “It has nothing to do with Dr.Manza. If you were to look at the discussions that we had before the election we had already decided that we have to break up the office of the Director of Public Health because that post has grown so much that it is impossible for one man to do. You’re looking at hospitals, you’re looking at the drugs that are coming in, you’re looking at the nurses and the doctors and the opening of all the hospitals both private and local, you’re looking at public health it’s way too much for one person so the idea is to be able to have to break it up into two areas so that then we can provide a better service for the Belizean people. I’m sorry Dr.Manza is not that important.”
Reporter: So what was he doing during this time ?
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “I think you need to ask him I can’t answer that question.”
Reporter: So he will be removed effectively and post somewhere under the Ministry ?
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “Well the ministry what is going to happen that that post is going to be abolished and two new posts are going to be appointed and who is going to be taking up that post I think you need to check with the Minister of Health and not myself.”
For its part, the UDP says that the PM’s comment is quote “…most unbecoming, to say the very least, of a person who holds the highest national political office.” They add quote “We expect our PM to lead by example. It is painfully obvious that this PM lacks the wherewithal to communicate spontaneously and effectively, but this is no excuse for such a blatant display of arrogance and insensitivity.