The Public Service Union has threatened legal action against Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Health Dr. Peter Allen, if he does not formally apologize to Chief Pharmacist, Sharon Anderson.
The PSU said in a release this week that Allen via email made libelous statements assaulting Anderson’s character. The union quoted Allen as saying that Anderson was “holding the(pharmaceutical) system to ransom.”
“The Public Service Union condemns the attack on Mrs. Anderson’s character and reputation and will continue to support her in demanding an apology and a retraction of the email. If not forthcoming legal action will be taken for libel,” the union said.
The union also emphasized that Allen had authorized several persons to sign customs entries for pharmaceuticals without giving due process, including consultations with the Chief Pharmacist and the Director of Health Services.
Dr. Allen told the Reporter this week that protocol dictates that any question on whether for not he will give a formal apology must be directed to the office of the Solicitor General. He added that while other public officers have been authorized to sign the entries, their power to do so has not yet been activated and no sample signatures have been sent to customs.
Allen, who was out of the country at the time the authorization was given, explained that the decision was made after consulting with Gian Ghandi, the government’s legal advisor, and is within the rules and regulations of dealing with pharmaceuticals.
The situation emerged from an email sent on April 11, from the Procurement manager of Central Medical Stores, who advocated that other persons be granted the power to sign customs entries for pharmaceuticals because Anderson was , “on strike and refusing to sign supplies,” which could seriously endanger the health of patients.
According to the union Anderson was on documented sick leave from April 7- to April 17, the day after Allen issued the order that other officers could sign the customs entries. They further stated that while on leave anderson was still facilitating the signature of customs entries and that the Director of Medical Services, Dr. Michael Pitts was aware. of this.
The PSU also joined the Belize Pharmacy Association in its quest to have Director of the Drug Inspectorate replaced with a more qualified person. The union says that it continues to support the association in demanding that the directorship post be rectified, that the unit be established according to proper procedures and staffed with qualified personnel.
The Union also highlighted that Contreras was authorized to sign customs entries despite the fact that she is not a registered pharmacist and is not recognized by either pharmacy.