The impasse between the Pharmacists Association of Belize and the Ministry of Health over the appointment of Danini Contreras is at the point of possible industrial action.
Today the Association’s vice-president, Marisol Melhado, spoke to the press and said that the Association is not backing down.
“Definitely as a sense of shell services that we are upon, we have to consider that the association is made up of public sector and private sector pharmacists and we need to make sure that we do things properly. We are here advocating for proper procedure. Therefore, we are going to adhere to those. Definitely, under the Act, because we are essential services, we can’t just leave and abandon our workplaces, but there are several ways that we are looking at to formulate a plan to advice our members. So, right now, I don’t want to disclose those until we are basically on board with everything”.
Reporter: “So, it is not completely off the table, the issue industrial action”.
Marisol Melhado: “Definitely, because we feel as if though we are not getting anywhere”.
The Association continues to contend that only Contreras’ removal and proper process being followed can end the impasse.
According to Melhado, Contreras’ Bachelor’s Degree, while enough for the Ministry, is short of the full requirements to practice in Belize – most importantly, her registration as a licensed pharmacist in Belize and experience in the field.
She presented the scenario offered by the Ministry to have persons of allegedly inferior qualifications accompany their would-be boss on her rounds and explained why the Association was quite insulted by the Ministry’s offer.
Marisol Melhado: “Let me put it as a scenario to you: I just came on board, I don’t know what is it that you are doing or what you position is, but I came as your boss, or as someone that can really direct you here and there, or can inspect you , and I am getting paid 8 brackets more than you, right? Yet you are told that you need to accompany me and tell me if I am doing a good job or not. How would you feel? I don’t think that you would be an appropriate feeling that you have. You are asking for a pharmacist with an Associtates” Degree. Now, if they ask me personally, I ahev 18 uyears of experience as a registered pharmacist with a Bachelor’s Degree; I am seeking a Master’s. So, then, you are asking me personally, but the majority of persons that have been registered for the past years and been entrusted with the duty of a pharmacist/chemist/druggist, then, that to me is mockery. Then that is unfair to all those pharmacists out there”.
Ms. Melhado told us that Minister Pablo Marin’s use of the name of Dr. Marvin Manzanero, a member of the Pharmacy Board of Examiners, as the person who supposedly vetted Ms. Contreras for the post, is misleading and sad as he does not, or should not, act alone.
The head of the board is Director of Health Services Dr. Michael Pitts, and neither he nor Chief Pharmacist Sharon Sanchez-Anderson were consulted before the appointment.
The Association remains adamant that Ms. Contreras must go and would need to sit the board exam, which is being offered again later this year, and so should resign now and begin preparing for that, including a read-up of local law.