By Benjamin Flowers
The Belize Pharmacy Association this week introduced a public awareness campaign highlighting the importance of the Drug Inspectorate and the need for qualified persons to operate it.
The BPA began its media rounds on Monday by appearing on local talk shows. It is also preparing fliers and educational posters to be distributed within the coming weeks.
The BPA maintains that without properly trained personnel and adequate checks and balances for the importing of medical supplies, the general public is at risk of serious harm due to sub-standard drugs.
Hortence Humes, president of the BPA, told the Reporter that the association launched the campaign because the Ministry of Health refuses to listen to the BPA’s request that a more qualified person be appointed as the Director of the Drug Inspectorate.
Humes added that the association is working with the trade unions to file notice of an essential services dispute and is preparing to take it all the way to the Minister of Labour. She clarified that these are the only actions which the association has taken.
“I want to make it clear that no member of the Association has gone on strike or any other kind of industrial action.” Humes said Tuesday.
The Minister of Health Pablo, Marin and the Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry, Dr. Peter Allen, have said that Danini Contreras, daughter of the Minister of Trade, Erwin Contreras and Director of the Drug Inspectorate, will remain appointed until the end of her contract while the Ministry works on properly establishing the post.
Currently Contreras is on a six-month contract funded through the National Health Insurance program.
The BPA objected several times in writing and held meetings with the Ministry in an attempt to have Contreras, who is not a registered pharmacist, removed from the post and replaced with someone who has a degree in pharmaceuticals and work experience in the field.