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Medical and Dental Association endorses Acting Director of Health Services; incumbent’s position to be discussed, says Prime Minister

Posted: Sunday, February 21, 2021. 3:50 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The President of the Belize Medical and Dental Association (BMDA) has offered its endorsement of Acting Director of Health Services, Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa, for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic since taking over from Dr. Marvin Manzanero, who was out on sick leave.

This week, Dr. Manzanero has gone back to work but has found that for now, he appears to be surplus to the Ministry of Health’s requirements.

The Association wrote Minister of Health and Wellness, Michel Chebat, citing its “satisfaction” with Dr. Diaz-Musa and her team’s management, adding that frontline doctors have greater access to personal protective equipment (PPE); a speeding up in results of COVID-19 tests has led to reduced cases as a result of being able to isolate and treat patients sooner; and the wider medical community, it says, now has a voice on decision-making with regard to COVID, including the deployment of vaccines.

Dr. Diaz-Musa is “one of our own,” the Association proudly claims; that is, she has served in the public health sector and is aware of its deficiencies, and in the view of the Association has expressed interest and commitment to change.

And while the Association all but endorses Diaz-Musa to succeed Dr Manzanero, he still holds the substantive post.

Prime Minister John Briceno, speaking to reporters, offered his public thanks to Dr Manzanero for “trying his very best” to meet the challenge of COVID-19 in a time of uncertainty. That said, Chebat as Minister of Health felt something needed to be done to arrest the spike in cases and the timing of Dr Manzanero catching COVID-19 and being out became fortuitous as Dr Diaz-Musa led a flattening of the curve countrywide that has reduced average cases to less than 200.

The Prime Minister said he and Minister Chebat will sit this week to discuss what he described as an “impasse…at managerial level;” not, he emphasized, one between Drs Diaz-Musa and Manzanero.

And the warning from the President of the Association of Public Service Senior Managers (APSSM), Chief Magistrate Sharon Frazer, is that Dr. Manzanero cannot be demoted or transferred without the permission of the Public Service Commission’s job reclassification unit; indeed, he can only move higher – to Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry, a position currently held by Dr. Deysi Mendez.


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