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Pharmacists resist new regulations - antibiotics no longer sold over the counter Print E-mail
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Thursday, 16 November 2017 00:00

On Tuesday of this week the Belize Community Pharmacists Association (BCPA) sent out an extensive press release in which it states that it had not been consulted by the Ministry of Health in the passing of a new statutory instrument which will affect its members. The Association says that under the new regulations they will be unable to import medication from first world countries. It states that drugs from the “US, UK, Germany and other first world countries are now being replaced with alternative pharmaceuticals from manufacturers in places such as Central America which may cost more and not work as well.” It goes on to state “that these changes are being made without proper consultation.” It further added that, “no effort was made to engage the association in the crafting of the regulations.”

Speaking to the Minister of Health, Hon. Pablo Marin he explained that the ministry has held extensive consultations with various stakeholders in the pharmaceutical industry years before the implementation of the regulations. He noted that those consultations began as far back as three years ago with the regulations actually having passed last November. They are just now taking effect, having given pharmacists and pharmaceutical importers an entire year to become compliant.

As to the association’s claim that no consultation took place with them Hon. Marin noted that the association had come into existence in May of this year, 6 months ago long after consultations were completed. The association claims it introduced itself to the Ministry of Health in July of this year the day when the regulations were signed to be implemented.

“We need to protect the public,” stated the minister adding that the new regulations were not only with stakeholders in the industry but with the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization which are the standard keepers in the health industry. Hon. Marin said that there are concerns where the improper dispensing of medication has caused and  increase in anti-microbial resistance to some medicines and challenged the pharmacists to get their Good Manufacturing Practices certification from those who supply them. He says that fake and substandard medication often times come from the first world countries like the U.S. and U.K. He stated: “how can they say they cannot provide certification for medication? You have to have those. Marin noted that the pharmacists and importers need to know that the manufacturer is in good standing to produce the medicines. The certificate he says will clearly state what the content of the medication is and what the effects and side effects of the medicines are. “If medications have proper certificates they are good medications,” he said.

As for the operations of the drug inspectorate, the minister said that already they are in operations where pharmacists and importers have to show where medications they have actually come from. He said that already antibiotics and prescription medication have been removed from 50 supermarkets. There are also now strict adherence in the dispensing of prescription medication which can no longer be sold over the counter. There is now need for doctor’s prescriptions as well as all pharmacies must have a licensed pharmacist in order for it to conduct business.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 November 2017 15:28
 
BIL winds down on construction of sporting facilities Print E-mail
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Thursday, 16 November 2017 00:00

In 2012 The Government of Belize (GOB) decided to form a public company to act as an agent of the GOB to undertake the design, construction and management of capital projects in Belize. At that time particular emphasis was placed on sporting and other multipurpose facilities in order to find an efficient conduit to undertake the largest of sporting projects, the rebuilding of the Belize City Center. A key driving force behind the GOB’s action was to also ensure that each municipality received at least one proper, functioning sporting or multipurpose facility to serve the needs of the community for sport and recreational activities. The company established was Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL). Its mandate would be to act as the executing agency with the overall responsibility to bring each project to fruition, from start to finish. The company officially got underway in late 2013 and now in its 4th year in operation, the first phase of its mandate is complete.

BIL’s General Manager Christy Mastry told the Guardian that when the Civic Center is opened in the coming days it will mean that the construction phase of BIL would have been completed. That mandate included the investment of some 60 million dollars in sporting facilities. And while that is now the case, BIL will now move on to another aspect of its mandate which is the Lake Independence Masterplan which will see the completion of the Lake Independence Resource Center as well as the further development of 50 acres of land in the adjoining area. That will also see the construction of a new building to house the Ministry of Finance building as well as a national bus terminal and other commercial activities.

For the time being, BIL is concentrating in the finalizing of the management contract for the Belize Civic Center which will be a public-private sector partnership. Under this arrangement the government will stay in tune with all activities at the facility tracking the amount of money that is being made as well as how the facility is being used be it for sporting events or others. The contract will also see that the infrastructure is maintained as well as the equipment and insurance necessary. The primary objective would be that it generates enough finances to maintain itself and where there is a profit there is a profit sharing that goes back to GOB.

Mastry says that at a pure construction execution, BIL has delivered on its mandate within budget and with additional amenities to facilities. At this point in time the company is undergoing a learning experience on how the management of the facilities will take place. She states that what has been identified is that there are some weaknesses in government being able to maintain large scale capital projects in the country. The private sector involvement however will bring in a profit dynamic into the picture where the facilities will be run as a business to maintain standards as well as the facility itself in order to make revenue. Bringing in the private sector Mastry says leads to the sustainability of projects.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 November 2017 15:28
 
2.8 million more in concrete streets and more for Belize City Print E-mail
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Thursday, 16 November 2017 00:00

The Belize City Council is rolling out a 2.8 million dollar program of more infrastructural development across the city. Current councilor and Mayoral Candidate for the UDP, Dion Leslie says that under the new spate of works, East and West canal will be completed with concrete. The areas to be paved will be between King and Water Lane on East Canal and from Dean Street to the Yarborough Bridge on West Canal.

Also on the schedule to be concreted will be Eyre Street, Chancellor Avenue, Gibnut Street, 3rd Street, Racoon Street and Cemetery Road from Central American Boulevard to Dolphin Street.

These works are a continuation of works that had been started under Mayor Darrell Bradley where over 150 streets were paved with concrete in Belize City. Leslie says that it is a natural progression from Bradley’s legacy of infrastructural boom in the city.

While these are works being done with concrete, there is also a slew of other earthen streets which are also being upgraded. Among them is Arlington Drive and the surrounding streets which have been in deplorable conditions for years. The work being done there includes the digging of drains as well as the placing of access culverts into resident’s yards. These streets are to compliment that work being done on Fabers Road which is already seeing the digging and concreting of the base of the box drain beginning at the intersection of Central American Boulevard.

 
Better border security with more training for customs and immigration officers Print E-mail
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Thursday, 16 November 2017 00:00

The Belize Customs and Excise Department as well as the Department of Immigration and Nationality have enlisted officers to be part of a weeklong training for border security. The training began on Monday, November 13, 2017 through the partnership between Belize and the European Union (EU). The workshop was launched by the Ministry of Immigration, the Caribbean Customs Laws Enforcement Council, and the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS).

At the end of the training, the officers will be expected to have learnt joint strategies in addressing common security threats as well as operational procedures in an effort to secure the borders of Belize and, by extension, enhancing regional security. The workshop will focus on capacity building in the area of detection of illegal activity and the enabling of higher prosecution and conviction rates.

Hon. Beverly Williams, Minister of State, Immigration and Refugees, figures that ensuring safety at the borders is especially important for the country at this time being that tourism is the second largest foreign exchange earner for Belize.

Assistant Director of Strategic Services, CARICOM IMPACS, Earl Harris, was also at day one of the workshop. The purpose, says Harris, is to bring together the Customs and Immigration departments and to let them understand that there is no single entity that has the capacity to patrol and protect the borders. They will be brought together to be re-exposed to techniques and knowledge in terms of human trafficking, false documents, imposters, and smuggling; “reinforcing in their minds that they must know their laws, must know their authority because theirs is a responsibility of being the frontline of border security”.

 
The fate of Marijuana as a drug discussed at a regional level Print E-mail
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Thursday, 16 November 2017 00:00

The National Consultations on marijuana by way of focus groups will be held through the collaborative efforts of the Attorney General’s Ministry of Belize with and under the guidance of CARICOM’s Regional Commission on Marijuana. This will take place on Thursday, November 23, 2017 at the Tapir Room at the Best Western Biltmore Plaza from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Consultations will be focused on conducting enquires into the social, economic, health, and legal issues surrounding the use of marijuana in the Caribbean, determining whether or not to change marijuana’s current drug classification, recommending possible legal and administrative conditions in the event of a re-classification, and preparing a final report to be submitted to the heads of CARICOM.

At the consultation, the Chair of the Regional Commission on Marijuana along with three other commissioners and two representatives from the CARICOM Secretariat will be in attendance. Representatives from law enforcement, legal practicing, medicine and health research, anthropology/sociology/culture, faith based organizations, NGOs, ethics, youth, and education have been invited.

Group A, the Education and youth sector, will meet from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. This group will be comprised of students from secondary and high schools, community colleges, tertiary learning institutions, and other youth bodies. Faith based and non-governmental organizations, Group B, will meet from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The third group, medical researchers and practitioners, practitioners of alternative medicine, advocates for the use of medical marijuana, representatives from the National Drug Council, law enforcement, and legal practitioners, will meet from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Following the Consultations, a Town Hall meeting is scheduled for 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the same location where the public and interested parties are welcomed to attend.

 


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