National Oversight Committee Clarifies Reports on Resignation of the DHS
The National Oversight Committee (NOC) hereby clarifies that Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services, has not tendered his resignation. The information currently being circulated by various news outlets is false.
The NOC did have a discussion with Dr. Manzanero regarding the most recent statutory instrument. It was agreed to recommend to Cabinet an alternative way of dealing with the issue of COVID-19 positive persons who break quarantine and the law.
News spread at the speed of lightening today about the purported resignation of Doctor Marvin Manzanero, the Director of Health Services, who has been the face in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. It came on the heels of a very controversial amendment to the quarantine regulations penalizing the DHS if he fails to provide confidential information on COVID-19 patients to the Minister of National Security. So in essence, while the S.I. seeks to deal with those persons who are positive, in isolation and quarantine and who break the law, it punishes the DHS. The amended regulations were issued late on Tuesday and sounded alarm bells instantly. This morning, Doctor Manzanero could not be reached for comment, but there was talk from inside the N.O.C. meeting that he had raised strong concerns about the new S.I. since divulging patient information goes against the grain of his profession. In the afternoon, the government issued a press release saying that the Director of Health Services had not resigned. The government release went on to confirm that the N.O.C. did have a discussion with Doctor Manzanero on the S.I. Did he threaten to resign? Well, the release admittedly states that “it was agreed to recommend to Cabinet an alternative way of dealing with the issue of COVID-19 positive patients who break quarantine and the law.” It means that for some compelling reason, government will be revising the new S.I.
Dr. Manza Says He Never Used the Word "Resignation", But…
Yesterday, the hottest news of the day was fake news that Director Of
Health services Dr Marvin Manzanero had resigned his post. As we told
you, he did not resign, but we can confirm that there was some serious
tension over this: clause 22-A in the latest QUARANTINE REGULATIONS.
It says, quote "the Director of Health Services shall provide the
minister responsible for national security with the name and address of
every person that has tested positive for COVID-19; the name and
address of every person placed in self- isolation; and the name and
place of quarantine of every person placed in mandatory quarantine.
The Director of Health Services commits an offence if he fails to
provide the information to the Minister responsible for national
Now that requires Doctors to do something unethical - which is to
breach patient confidentiality. Manzanero said he learned about the
provision on Monday night, hours before it was to go into effect. He
spoke to us via Zoom from his office in Belmopan half an hour ago:
Dr. Marvin Manzanero, DHS
"So, I finally got it on Tuesday evening, I read it, I had my reservations
and those reservations were made, I made it known to CEO Tuesday and
Minister Marin. I had my reservations in terms of the ethical elements that
are attached to it and those were represented to the NOC today, I had asked
for a timeslot to present that to the NOC, I had my reservations in terms
of the SI because routinely, my one is a technical report for the Ministry
of Health. I was heard and at the end of the day, what the press release
had said as ministry have given an option of seeking alternatives to how we
can meet that specific objective that the SI was intending to carry out."
"So, at any point, did you say this goes through, I have to resign. If we
cannot find a compromise, a working compromise, then I must go my own way.
Was that something that you said, stated?"
Dr. Marvin Manzanero
"Resign is not a word that said ever at the NOC. I said what I had to say
based on for me, which is ethics, the ethics of a professional, before the
Director of Health Services, I'm a physician but I think there is personal
and professional convictions behind that would have not allowed me to have
my conscience at ease at what was being requested and so I said what my
position was. I mentioned what the team from the technical advisory group
had said, what the regional management teams had said in support of what
they thought was the process. I never told any of my staff what my idea was
going into the NOC, I said I'll go ahead with the feedback you are giving
and my stance but I never disclosed my stance to any of my staff. I
presented what my take was on it and I had a difficulty in providing the
information, so I was heard and I was asked if there was alternative that
could be given and I said if we are given the opportunity to work on the
alternative and I think that was the gist of the discussion yesterday."
"But as we move forward, do you have that level of comfort that this sacred
ethic patient confidentiality will not be violated and it's sacrosanct will
Dr. Marvin Manzanero
"Well that's my intent, I am not necessarily going to be the guardian
because I am seeing patients as Director of Health Services but I am the
overall custodian of that data which is done by individual doctors on a
daily basis and continual basis. I think patient's data and the trust in
the system cannot be eroded."
A release from the National Oversight Committee said an alternative way
of dealing with the issue of COVID-19 positive persons who break
quarantine and the law will be presented to Cabinet.
Today Manzanero said that there is already a legal dimension to the
Dr. Marvin Manzanero
"Some of that is already happening, for example there is a quarantine form
that is given to people whilst they land in the airport and we had drafted
that in April, we are actually just modifying it earlier today but as you
move along you improve, you learn, the airport situation is fluid, it
changes, so we are modifying that form to make it shorter but without
losing gist of what it is, which means if you break the quarantine
situation, if your positive or if you had close contact then it talks about
imprisonment, it says 6 months, its clearly there cited in the quarantine
form which is given to people when they come in through the borders if you
are a positive case. So I have shared that with minister and we have this
in place already, we're already working with people who are going to a
party and are positive for example - the only way you know is to verify
that information with the Ministry of Health. So, I also mentioned, I felt
that we already doing elements of that. In some areas it is easier and I
think we have a closer working relationship with police departments, I met
with the teams yesterday before I went to NOC for example and Corozal, the
Corozal medical offices chief of staff was very clear in her articulation
to me to say doc, in Corozal we will not have a problem, we have a very
good relationship with the officer in command in Corozal, whenever this
situation requires assistance from the police, we can call on them and they
will come and help us."