General — 21 March 2014

The Pharmacist Association of Belize (PAB)—the group which last week issued a public statement decrying the manner in which the Ministry of Health had hired Danina Contreras, daughter of Minister of Trade Erwin Contreras, for a newly created post—told Amandala today that they had just received a request from the Ministry of Health to meet, but they could not disclose details because they had not yet consulted internally on the matter.

PAB now has the support of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB), which issued a statement earlier this week in which it expressed solidarity with PAB and called for “…the immediate termination of Ms. Contreras from the Public Service.”

The NTUCB said that it, “Furthermore …insists that the post of director of drug inspectorate [for which she was hired] be advertised and that the due process be undertaken in accordance with the Public Service Commission Regulations/Public Services Commission: the sole authority responsible for appointments in the Public Service; in order that a suitably qualified and competent person be hired to fill this post… one that has been long advocated for the Pharmacists Association of Belize, complemented by an entire Inspectorate UNIT.”

It added that the “absolutely alarming signal” sent by PAB “MUST not fall on deaf ears!!!”

That signal is the word of caution that, “Belize is plagued with a myriad of issues related to the quality of pharmaceuticals. These issues pose numerous direct threats to the health and safety of the people of this country.”

The NTUCB said that the latest development “becomes further impetus” to push for the passage of the Occupational Health and Safety Bill into law. It said that the aim of the bill, which has been sent by the House of Representatives to Committee for national consultations, is “improving the health and safety of employees in the workplace.”

The NTUCB said that it awaits an immediate resolution of this matter.

Meanwhile, the Government has not yet responded to the NTUCB’s release.

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