Google+ Random Musing of a Doctor: Liberia Has No Health Minister !!!!!! Alarming !!!! expr:class='"loading" + data:blog.mobileClass'> Google+

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Monday, February 2, 2015

Liberia Has No Health Minister !!!!!! Alarming !!!!

Monrovia — Liberia's longest serving Health Minister under the regime of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Dr. Walter Gwenigale is said to have exited the Ministry of Health and is no longer holding on, after being asked to do so by the President last year.
Dr. Gwenigale is said to have submitted his letter of resignation to President Sirleaf months ago, but the search for his replacement yielded no fruit as the appointed Minister, civil service Director George Werner was rejected by the Senate and health workers nationwide have also expressed some reservations because he does not have a background in medicine.
Dr. Gwenigale was told to hold on until a new Minister is found, so as not to create a void within the Ministry of Health, especially during the fight against Ebola. The Health Minister, who came under criticism over his handling of the Ebola Outbreak from the public, has told President Sirleaf that he can no longer hold on as head of the Ministry according to highly placed Ministry of health sources.
With Dr. Gwenigale's exit from the Ministry of health this month (February) and the Ministry still without a Minister, because the President has found no one to replace him, some say the consequences for Liberia's fragile health system without a head is massive.
"How can you have a Ministry without a head; especially in these critical times of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease?" Asked a staff at the Health Ministry who prefers not to be named. At the launch of the trial vaccines at the Redemption Hospital, Dr. Gwenigale was represented by a proxy, which is growing signs of his exit from the limelight as the lone voice of authority in the health sector.
The confidence of the President, however, in the long-serving health practitioner is simply unadulterated; at times when there was a huge public outcry against the former health Minister and his handling of the sector from the public, President Sirleaf was the only one standing by him. At a Pneumonia vaccine launch in January of 2014, the President spoke highly of Dr. Gwenigale.
"We are here to give due recognition to our Minister of health Dr. Walter Gwenigale and the entire Ministry of Health family for what they have done to make us proud in our achievement and our success in improving healthcare in our country," she said.
"Dr. Gwenigale, we do commend you. Today, the health Ministry is clearly established as one of the better performing Ministry in terms of accountability. As a result of that they continue to get support from the partners that bring their resources together in a pool fund, recognizing that the allocation of those resources will be made with efficiency and effectiveness and the health service will continue to be made accessible to a larger number of our population."
But the President's praise months later became unrealistic as the Ebola Outbreak hit and Liberia's health system was exposed for what it really and truly is. The Ebola Virus Outbreak left Dr. Gwenigale and his Ministry exposed and the clamor and public outcry for his replacement grew louder, but the President was determined to let him stay on and run the Ministry.
Critics of one of the strongest allies of President Sirleaf say they would not miss him because he has not made any serious impact at the Ministry since the inception of the Sirleaf-led administration since 2006, despite the many contributions made to the Ministry both in budgetary allotments and international donor support.
"Let him go, would not miss him. How would we miss a man who has not been performing his duties properly? Dr. Gwenigale has been a burden to the health Ministry, it is time he left, retirement or no retirement," said Melvin Morris a resident of New Kru Town.

With the rejection of the CSA Director Werner, many are now looking within the Ministry of health and social welfare to see who might be suitable to replace Dr. Gwenigale with the energy to bring life to the Ministry, especially as Liberia moves toward post Ebola recovery. Some government insiders say, Sirleaf may look within to find a replacement if one is not found in the coming weeks as Liberia look toward improvement in the health sector, post-Ebola. Assistant Minister for health and curative Services Tolbert Nyenswah, who led the government's Ebola response, were recently hailed by the President for helping turn the tide.
Dr. Bernice Dahn, Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Minister for Administration is also said to be on the radar as a possible replacement for Dr. Gwenigale. Dr. Dahn has served many years in her position but her critics say she has not been effective in the position, citing the poor condition of the Redemption Hospital and other government-owned health facilities as examples of some fo her frailties.
"Dr. G," was born in a small village in Liberia and grew up attending Lutheran mission schools and in 1963 he earned a B.A. in Chemistry from Inter-American University in San German, Puerto Rico. He later received a Doctor of Medicine Degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine and since then has been the towering figure in Liberian medical sphere.
Dr. Gwenigale is married to Carmen Hernandez Gwenigale and returned to serve his country in 1973. He has since served as the Bong County Health Officer, Director of Phebe Hospital and President of the Christian Health Association of Liberia over the last 30 years. His friends including the President who profess absolute confidence in him believe has shown incredible courage and leadership during his time of service to Liberia.

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