Minister Marin Delivers! House Passes Medical Practice Act Print E-mail
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Written by Shane d. Williams   
Thursday, 07 November 2013 00:00

Hon. Pablo MarinAfter lobbying Government for two decades, the Belize Medical and Dental Association finally has the authority to regulate the practice of medicine in Belize. On Friday, November 1st, the House of Assembly passed the Medical Practice Bill which, as read in the House, “provides for the control and regulation of the practice of medicine in Belize by medical practitioners”.

The bill was read for the first time on September 28th. President of the Belize Medical and Dental Association, Dr. Adelita Zaiden, said that medical practitioners were skeptical up to the last, and when she informed them that the bill would be read in the House of Representatives most said that they would have to see it to believe it. Now that it has passed, Minister of Health, Hon. Pablo Marin, is receiving high praises for being a man of his word. He promised that his main goal as Minister of Health in this second term would be to pass the Medical Practice Bill and relieve medical professionals from the frustration that comes with operating in such an unregulated field.

The Medical Practice Act provides for the establishment of a Medical Council and reform the registration procedure for medical practitioners. The Medical Council will be made up of seven members. The Director of Health Services and the President of the Belize Medical and Dental Association are ex-officio (non-voting) members. The Minister will appoint, at his own discretion, two registered medical practitioners and one registered dental practitioner from the Association. The Minister will also appoint two medical or dental practitioners on the advice of the Association. The council will appoint a secretary and elect a vice-chairman and treasurer. The chairman will be appointed by the Minister. Each member, with the exception of the ex-officio members, will serve a term of three years.

The Medical Council is responsible to examine all applications for the registration and licensing of medical practitioners in Belize and to develop processes and procedures in relation to the registration and licensing of medical practitioners. The Council must also determine which professional schools, colleges, universities, training institutions and educational programs from other jurisdictions are acceptable in connection with registration and licensing in Belize and to examine and evaluate applications and recommend to the Registrar the issuance or otherwise of certificates in relation to the registration and licensing of medical practitioners. The council will also ensure the continued education of medical practitioners to maintain high standards of medical practice in the country. The Council now also has legal authority to hold doctors accountable for unethical, unprofessional or unlawful medical practice.

In summary, the Medical Practice Act limits political interference in medical practice by putting the medical practitioners in charge of regulating the profession instead of bureaucrats.