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Sep 24, 2020

Medical Professionals Speak Out Against Recent Statutory Instrument

As of Wednesday night, Belize registered one thousand seven hundred and nine cases of COVID-19. Six hundred and sixty five cases remain active but so far one thousand and nineteen persons have recovered.  Every day there are new cases and every day persons recover. And in the past few days, the number of recovered persons has exceeded the number of new infections. But the government says stricter measures have to be implemented. Government’s ultimate goal triggered S.I. 134.  Signed by Minister of Health Pablo Marin, the controversial S.I. criminalizes the Director of Health Services if he fails to provide the name and address of every person that has tested positive for COVID-19 to National Security Minister Michael Peyrefitte. Peyrefitte counters that the law was created to prevent the further spread of the virus but health professional have spoken out against it.  In fact, the DHS has in the past months refrained from revealing names of persons with the virus.   Doctor Manzanero has always held a firm position against releasing the names of COVID-19 patients. Doctors Fernando Cuellar, Jose Antonio Marenco and Jose Moguel agree.


Fernando Cuellar

Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Internist, Belize Medical Associates

“Thing could have been done differently that what was done with this S.I. for sure. It just speaks to lamentably lack of communications perhaps, lack of cohesion, lack of team work because I see for example the person who signed eh S.I. the Ministry of Health basally threw his DHS under the bus and said you can become criminal. So obviously there was not enough discussion and I am hoping that we can hear something from Doctor Manzanero, truthfully, what really happen but he seems to be have been caught off guard with this think and going to the point where the National Security Minister has to have a whole list of COVID does not make sense.”


Jose Antonio Marenco

Dr. Jose Antonio Marenco, General Practitioner

“My take on this is there is what is called the patient’s Bill of right and that is pretty much to protect the confidentially of the patient. I guess the blunder is whenever the individual rights borderline with the community and the larger population right. Under probably some very special circumstances if the larger community is perceived to be at risk then the individual rights have a little issue as to how to keep it up. In general, it has to be exception and I said there is something as the patient’s bill of rights to protect the information from becoming out there in the public there.”


Jose Moguel

Dr. Jose Moguel, General Surgeon

“The medical practitioner vows to hold in secret, in confidentiality the information f the patient even after the patient has died. This is the basis of confidentiality and privacy even in the presence of COVID-19 and the pandemic. However the practice is modified so to speak in the presence of the pandemic in the interest of the public and the community at large.”We will see that the pandemic, COVID-19 for instance there will be rules and regulations enacted to assure that information is used to the benefit of the public interest. We must be very careful in releasing confidential information.”


Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“But I do have the issue of it being necessarily have to be reported to the National Security. And I go back to that same thing that started that discussion. I was amused that the Attorney General said yesterday that the justification of such SI is to take  out the discretion from the DHS. So the DHS doesn’t have common sense, medical training, has a team? So who has the discretion? The Attorney General?  Only the people them have brains? What is going on with the Oversight Committee? It is preposterous that such as thing was said.”


Dr. Jose Moguel

“The matter here is confidentially versus public interest. Confidentially is extremely important and is a right for the individual, for the patient, at the same time governments and I am not saying Belize only have the duty to preserve the public health interest and of the nation and the people at large. Those circumstances tend to override specific occasions, the individual interest and confidential and privacy and that is why we see such laws being acted in Belize in the interest of the public. But may I say here that information of patients may be released to public health authorities, to public health authorities and those will decide what to do with that information.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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