By Benjamin Flowers
Today Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Peter Allen, categorically denied accusations that he victimized Chief Pharmacist Sharon Anderson.
At a press conference at the Belize Biltmore Plaza, and flanked by Minister of Health Pablo Marin and other ranking members in the MOH, Allen explained that while he and Anderson do not agree, her removal from the tendering committee for pharmaceuticals was a process in accordance with the regulations of the committee.
“All members of the committee were asked to declare any possible conflicts of interest. Mrs. Anderson declared that she had such conflicts and so she was replaced on the committee.”
Dr. George Goff, chairman of the Tender Committee for Pharmaceuticals and Medical Supplies for the public sector, supported Allen. He explained that all members were subject to the process. Goff also emphasized that the procedure is transparent, and that prior to the current government administration there was no tendering process whatsoever.
The Public Service Union spoke to the media this week, underscoring that since 2009 several duties have been removed from Anderson’s portfolio, including the training of pharmacists and being on the panel that interviews pharmacist applicants.
Allen also addressed the appointment of Danini Contreras, daughter of the Minister fo Trade Erwin Contreras, as the Director of the Drug Inspectorate. Allen reiterated that the inspectorate is necessary and Contreras’ appointment will remain. Samira Gongora, assistant supplies officer for Central Medical Stores, explained that currently drug inspections are not conducted until after the importation of pharmaceuticals into the country. With the new inspectorate in place, inspections are expected tooccur before the import documents are signed.
The Belize Pharmacy Association this week issued a list of decisions that the MOH has made which the association says has eroded the pharmaceutical system in Belize. The list includes the suspension of the licensing exam required by law and the cancellation of regularly scheduled exams.
The Association also strongly feels that Contreras lacks the requisite knowledge, work experience, managerial experience, and certification to efficiently operate in the post as the director.
The BPA launched a public awareness campaign last week emphasizing the need for a properly formulated drug inspectorate with an adequate budget and staff.