The rumor mills and Facebook are running like wild fire on Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero’s suspension. Reportedly, he has been placed on five days administrative leave effective Monday. In a letter from his CEO, Dr. Manzanero was told that he is being investigated for misconduct. The misconduct arises from accusations that he has contributed to the number of COVID-19 mortalities by failing to take up BAHA on an offer to use their lab to speed up testing results.
This latest development seems to signal a new level of frustration and desperation within the Ministry of Health and Wellness. It is outright disgraceful and an abuse of power, not to mention a clear violation of The Public Service Regulations revised edition 2014 (PSR), Part 10 which speaks to Discipline of Public Officers.
Section 81 subsection 3(a) says, “the Chief Executive Officer shall submit the case of alleged misconduct to the Commission within two weeks from the date the alleged misconduct occurs.” Research of news clips at 7newsbelize.com shows that the Minister of Health and Wellness possessed knowledge of the non-acceptance of the BAHA offer since November 26 2020, and did absolutely nothing about it. February 23, 2021 falls three days short of 3 months since the Minister of Health and Wellness told the world about it. See transcript of news clip below.
Chebat On Current COVID Readiness posted (November 26, 2020) by way of 7newsbelize.com
Hon. Michel Chebat – Minister of Health and Wellness:
“Currently there is a backlog of approximately 2,182 PCRs at the central lab waiting to be processed. People being tested are not being given their results in time. This has contributed to the spread of COVID. Despite a clear offer from BAHA and the IAEA in April to assist with PCR testing to the MOH, this offer was not taken up. Our government hospitals are not fully ready to deal with a surge in cases should the need arise, this is despite the fact that the MOH had ample time to rectify and address these gaps. The Ministry of Finance reduced the budget for all ministries including MOH by 40% and this is despite the fact that MOH is required to respond to the pandemic. Overtime for health care workers was cut, there were restriction place on the hiring of staff, there are limited masks and PPEs for health care workers.”
While we are not possessed with the date the offer was made, we can safely say the Ministry knew of the incident since November 26 2020. According to PSR 81 (3)(a), the Ministry had two weeks from November 26 2020 to take action and they did not. The Ministry therefore cannot now come three months later and lay misconduct charges. They have missed their opportunity and now seeks to create mischief.
If we should take this allegation serious, it may fall under PSR 82 (1)(d), negligence in the performance of duties, a minor misconduct. Under the PSR minor misconduct is subject to the following penalties:
(i) caution; (ii) surcharge; (iii) fine; or (iv) suspension of increment;
refer the public officer to the following programmes (i) coaching or mentorship programme; or (ii) employee assistance programme under Regulation 206.