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Home Headline PSU wants Chebat out too

PSU wants Chebat out too

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Nov. 17, 2021 — On Monday of this week on the WUB Morning Vibes show, Dr. Fernando Cuellar, a former executive member of the board of governors of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Authority who resigned from the board on Friday of last week, remarked that the country’s healthcare system is in crisis — even going as far as to state that “dog eat our supper more”. He then called for Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Michel Chebat to step down from his role or be removed from that post. “I would want the PM, the people at the leadership, to say, ‘listen, we need to give more attention’. This whole year has been tumultuous for the Ministry of Health, okay, and I would reach out, I will tell him publicly, to ask to get move, because you are taking licking for everybody,” he told the show’s host, Evan “Mose” Hyde.

Yesterday, president of the Public Service Union, Dean Flowers, echoed that call for Chebat’s removal/resignation, saying that Chebat has “lost his way” and is leading with “arrogance and ignorance”.

The forceful public statements were seemingly triggered by statements made by Health Minister Chebat last week when he was questioned about the reported shortage at the KHMH of monitors and a medication known as Midazolam — both of which are critical in the treatment of severely ill Covid-19 patients. Chebat, in his remarks, seemed to distance himself and the Health Ministry from the responsibility of ensuring that there are adequate supplies at the hospital, and while noting $2 million monthly subventions from the Ministry, he said that the board of the KHMH, which he classified as a “semi-autonomous body” should “step up”. It thus appeared that he had placed the blame for the supply shortage on the KHMH board — something to which Dr. Cuellar, an internist at the Belize Medical Associates who was appointed to the board in September, took great offense.

Hon. Chebat later retracted his statement, but the damage had already been done. Cuellar had, via subsequent media interviews, expressed his anger at Chebat’s remarks and revealed deficiencies within the public health system not being addressed properly by the Ministry. He even expressed his belief that the Health Ministry must be led by a medical professional.

Those views were partially echoed in statements made by the PSU, whose president, Dean Flowers, has claimed that while the CEO in the Ministry of Health and Wellness is a trained medical doctor, that CEO, Dr. Deysi Mendez, is being sidelined by Minister Chebat.

“I want to support the call of Dr. Cuellar and many others, because even representatives from the private sector have come to the realization that the Ministry of Health needs help; it needs a lot of help where leadership is concerned. We have a Ministry who is administrating with a lot of arrogance and ignorance and we have a C.E.O. who has a medical background but who has been sidelined, in my view.” Flowers said.

When interviewed, the PSU president went further to highlight Chebat’s alleged lack of knowledge of, and skills in, public health management. He further claimed that the CEO in the Ministry has had her authority as the ministry’s accounting officer effectively stripped by Chebat.

Flowers revealed, “I am in receipt of instructions from the Minister of Health, and I quote, to the C.E.O., dated November fifth, in which he stated to the C.E.O., ‘Kindly note that as of today November 5th, 2021, no purchase orders, no invoices, no contracts, no agreements, no payments in excess of three thousand, five hundred dollars is to be made by you without my express prior consent.’ We have a Minister who has lost his way and who is not familiar with how the public sector runs, and sadly, I would have expected that the C.E.O. would have responded to this and say to him, ‘Sir, the least you can do, man, da read the Constitution, man, read the legislation which makes me the accounting officer, and so with all due respect, you need to stick to what you do best’.”

Flowers went on to suggest that the Health Ministry is placing its focus on procurement processes — an avenue which has been seen over the years as a conduit through which government funds have been channeled out of the government coffers and into the pockets of government officials and their associates through the awarding of special contracts for provision of hospital supplies. Flowers said that it is important for the public to know who has received, and will be receiving, these new procurement contracts.

He went on to refer to an additional allegation of impropriety — a report he received that Minister Chebat’s son was seen driving around with a government fuel card.

“The Ministry of Health is in crisis and so we must call on the Prime Minister to look at a possible way of addressing that,” Flowers remarked.

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