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Apr 9, 2020

Director of Health Services Explains Rejection of Test Kits

Marvin Manzanero

On Wednesday it came to light that Belize has rejected thousands of test kits that countries from the Central American Integration System were getting from the South Korean government. The Koreans gifted the kits under SICA’s Regional Contingency Plan to combat the novel coronavirus in the region and was signed on to by Deputy Prime Minister Hugo Patt at a meeting in March. Belize was expected, along with its Central American sister nations, to benefit from the one hundred and eighty thousand testing kits. But it came as a surprise that the kits were turned down by Belize though they are said to be ninety-nine percent accurate and compatible with those used in Central America. According to Director of Health Services, Doctor Marvin Manzanero, while the test kits are compatible with other Central American countries, they are not compatible with the platform that is being used here in Belize. 


Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“Understand that we undertook training for health staff using a particular platform, a particular template from February through PAHO. We had gotten test kits for that particular that particular template from PAHO and we had said to people who were willing to donate, people who were willing to donate, people who were willing to pay for testing kits that this is what we were using. Because as you understand our lab at Central Medical lab does not have the same staff or other equipment that other labs in other bigger countries have. So that is the platform that we were using. As is on the eighteenth o March when COMISCA had started asking what we wanted to procure through COMISCA and you know that COMISCA has a negotiation process for pool procurement for all Central American countries. From the eighteenth of March we had signaled to COMISCA that we were going to be interest particularly in the platform that we were using and we had requested forty testing kits which would amount to approximately four thousand individual tests.  Eventually they came back to say, COMSICA did to say that they were not going to be in a position, they didn’t seem to be part of the pool procurement. So on the twenty fourth of March which is the same time when we got an initial request from CABEI we had submitted out list from COMISCA, there is a document signed by my desk requesting for other materials to accompany the testing kits which are extraction enzymes, swabs and other materials that are used in the testing kits. We need to understand that it is not a simple testing. You need tubes, you need swabs and also understand that the region is running low on swabs. PAHO has indicated to us that for new sets of swabs to come in it’s going to perhaps take two to three weeks. So we need to bare that in mind. So on the twenty fourth of March is when we got an initial request for potential donation of kits. We were not sure if they were testing kits or what kind of kits they were. We requested for further advice on the matter and they sent us the specification of kits that they had sent to us. We understand it to be from the South Korean government to the region. When that came about because we have to work with what the lab does.”

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