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Public Health Minister suggests deputy vector control head to temper management/staff row

Dr Reyaud Rahman

by Zena Henry

Minister of Public Health Dr. George Norton has opted to hire a Deputy Director of the Vector Control Department to temper a bitter row between the head of that department and staffers.

A letter of complaint dated June17, by Keith Moore, Senior Training officer, Global Fund-Malaria, was sent to the Public Health Minister purporting to be on behalf of the senior and junior staff members of Vector Control Services. It sad that staffers were “absolutely disgusted and dissatisfied with the non-professional, lack of scientific and technical knowledge, poor leadership and crude behaviour of the Vector Control Director Dr. Reyaud Rahman,” and wanted him gone from the agency..

The letter listed a host of problems, and pleaded for the current administration to take note of the matter since, “…we had not the opportunity with the previous government for fear of victimization…”

Apart from listing the deficiencies of the Vector Control arm and the alleged types of victimization endured under the Director, the correspondence also asked the Health Minister to return the former Vector Control Director, who was, “arbitrarily” removed from office (despite an extended contract) for disagreeing with the exorbitant prices for anti-malarials and other drugs purchased from the New GPC.

Minister Norton said he did receive the letter and felt like an investigation had to be conducted into the matter.  He said that in his defence, the Director accused his staff of being “incompetent” and producing “fictitious” documents and data. On the other hand, the staffers were accusing the Director of certain irregularities.

The accusations are equally serious, Minister Norton said, but noted that the evidence was not exactly forthcoming from either side. Norton pointed out that he has known the current Vector Control Director before his appointment as minister and thought highly of the Director’s qualifications and enthusiasm.

However, he pointed out that qualification, enthusiasm means nothing without the support of the staff. He said what he found out, “like with other health departments, there seems to be only one person in control, going on all the trips, conferences and getting all the international exposure.”

With Vector Control, he said the Director is the only authorized person going on these trips and such and if he is ill for instance, there is no one to take over. Likewise, he has no deputy, or someone working under him to give an input on issues.

“But I want to change that,” the minister said. He explained that he would be seeking to have an assistant head, deputy or understudy suggesting the delegation of authority. The Minister explained further that moves would be made to have doctors more qualified and knowledgeable about malaria. He said those doctors would be among persons having the opportunity to international exposure.