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Oct 25, 2007

Medical Association complains about illegal clinic

Story PictureThe Belize Medical and Dental Association is holding its twenty-fifth congress at the Radisson. This year, along with the usual seminars and pitches by pharmaceutical companies, the doctors are looking at some controversial issues.

Jacqueline Godwin, Reporting
It may have been in the works for five years but finally medical doctors practicing in Belize will for the first time be guided by a Code of Ethics. The document which will be released in a special ceremony tonight deals with three specific areas

Dr. Beatriz Thompson, Vice President, B.M.D.A.
“Address to the patient, address to the profession and address as to how we are suppose to treat each other as doctors with respect and dignity.”

“This is what we have come up with over the years and this is what we are going to abide by, each doctor who belongs to the Belize Medical Dental Association.”

To date there are just over two hundred doctors working in the country. According to B.M.D.A.’s vice president Doctor Beatriz Thompson great strides have been made in the profession because doctors have become more united.

Dr. Beatriz Thompson
“We are starting to have a vision of what we would like to see happen in the healthcare system of Belize.”

Dr. Thompson conceded that the recent controversy involving Universal Health Services did give the appearance of division within the profession.

Dr. Beatriz Thompson
“But those things only served to propel us forward and what now has been developed as the vision for what we would like to see happen in Belize in the sense of a healthier Belize and how we can promote this both in the private and public sector of the health care profession.”

Dr. Thompson admits that as the B.M.D.A. forges ahead the fight is not over as they continue to wrestle with the Ministry of Health. Thompson says that the M.O.H. believes that it should be the only body involved in policy making decisions. The B.M.D.A. aims to have that responsibility shared by the medical doctors.

Dr. Beatriz Thompson
“See that is what we are aiming for that eventually the Ministry of Health will let everything come to us and we make the policies even though they still haven’t given up the idea that they are suppose to be the policy makers etc., and we are just suppose to address the services that are needed.”

But as B.M.D.A. moves towards improving the country’s health care system the association says it is still disturbed that Dr. Mitchell Ghen, an American doctor, reportedly conducting stem cell research in the Corozal District continues to operate illegally in the country. According to Dr. Thompson, Dr. Ghen who has been in Belize for the past two years has not even registered with the Belize Medical Council, a requirement that must be fulfilled by all medical doctors operating in the country.

Dr. Beatriz Thompson
“Belize is not equipped with a tertiary care centre to carry on research at that level, stem cell research. Those things are suppose to be carried out in a major tertiary centre and if we do not have that in Belize then eventually our people and apparently they say it is not our people that they are dealing with but anybody then who comes into our country might wind up being a guinea pig. We do not want people to be guinea pigs.”

Dr. Thompson says they have also been informed that Dr. Ghen has not only been doing research but seeing patients and administering prescriptions.

Dr. Beatriz Thompson
“I do not know if he is genuine or not but if you are a genuine person you would come in and register at the Belize Medical Council. One, because you do not have anything to hide and two, out of respect to the country and the legal bodies that perform in this country.”

Thompson says they are equally disturbed that repeated requests for assistance from the police including police commissioner Gerald Westby have gone unanswered.

Dr. Beatriz Thompson
“We sent off a letter to the commissioner of police and we have been pursuing him, asking him what will be the response but he has not forwarded any response to us and so we have taken it to the Belize Medical Council at the same time, simultaneously, and they have been going at it also.”

When News Five contacted police commissioner Gerald Westby he informed us that we should contact Inspector James Magdaleno who would be able to give us the information we needed. But when we contacted Magdaleno he said he has no knowledge of any letter that was sent to commissioner Westby and that he has not conducted any investigation on Dr. Mitchell Ghen, only on two other doctors whose names he declined to reveal. Magdaleno then referred us to another officer, one Mr. Valdez, whom he says may be able to assist. But when we contacted Valdez he says he has not done any investigation on the doctor in question.


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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1 Response for “Medical Association complains about illegal clinic”

  1. [...] This is not the first time that questions and controversy  have swirled around  Cryobanks International. In 2003, CI was identified as the  supplier of cord blood to an Atlanta regenerative medicine clinic raided  and shut down by the FDA.   Run by a chiropractor named Mitchell  Ghen,  the clinic offered unapproved treatments  to desperate patients with diseases like ALS. Ghen offered expensive therapies using cord blood stem cells, but it is not clear if these were actual blood stem cell transplants.  CI cut off supplies of cord blood units  (CBUs) to Ghen, who then relocated his clinic to Belize , offering the same treatments– source of the CBUs unknown–and generating the same concerns. [...]

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