PM Comments on Belize Coalition of Medical Professionals
Last week, the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Authority Workers Union (KHMHAWU), Nurses Association of Belize (NAB) and the Belize Medical and Dental Association (BMDA) joined to fire off a press release under the banner: Belize Coalition of Medical Professionals. In the release, the coalition speaks on the state of the health system, calling for urgent and meaningful intervention from the Government of Belize and stakeholders. The coalition gave the government an ultimatum: 7 days to address a range of issues including shortage of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, pension and reduction of income tax for all healthcare workers among other items. This morning Prime Minister John Briceno told reporters that a meeting was requested from the KHMHA Union, but union leaders were not prepared.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “He was to meet on them on Monday and then last minute decided that they’re not going to meet. And yet still give you an ultimatum it makes no sense. I think it’s an unfair criticism and I say this because remember when we got in we got in during a time of crisis. There were so many things that we had to be addressing and obviously you think oh how will we get – it’s only now that we see it in front of us we say oh shucks we need to be able to deal with this and that’s exactly what has happened when we saw that the medicines are taking long to come and people are telling us well you took six months to be able to approve my bid and even after you approve my bid it takes so many other months to be able to actually start the process in that instances because there had been a worldwide shortage in supplies they are saying by the time I tried to go to my supplier they say well I already sold that or the price already went up. So those are the things we have to be able to make it more compact and quicker to be able to address that matter. And it’s something that has been from the past fifteen years and as I said for thirteen years I never heard them telling giving an ultimatum to the previous government now in two years now they want to give us ultimatum I don’t think they’re being fair.”
Reporter: They’ve said this is the worst it’s been.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “Well obviously you could say it would be the worst because we have disruptions in the supply worldwide.”
Reporter: But you’ve been elected to deal with it PM.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “And that’s what we’re doing we’re dealing with it. We’re dealing with it but we had so many other things to deal with all at the same time it was impossible.”
Reporter: And that is why you have portfolios.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “Yes we have portfolios but they had to be able to deal with the hospitals it’s the whole health system that was in total chaos under the previous minister and that is what we’ve been fixing. How many scholarships have we given to nurses to be able to go and get their nursing degree ? Those are the fundamental things that we’ve been doing in addressing these issues. We had to be able to find money to pay the backpay that the UDP did not pay. Millions of dollars. All of that is the work that we’ve been doing.”
Reporter: And what about the request for benefits and so that they say they haven’t had and the pandemic has brought to fore that these need to be put in place.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “Well obviously it’s something that we have to take a look at and we’re going to sit down and talk to them and what we can afford we will do but if we can’t afford it we can’t afford it.”