The Liberian Senate through recommendations from the Committee on Gender, Health, Social Welfare, Women & Children Affairs, yesterday unanimously voted in executive session to reject Minister of Health-designate George Kronnisanyon Werner.
The Senate decision was taken after the Secretary of the Senate had read the recommendation Committee chaired by Peter Coleman, in plenary. The Committee recommended that the outgoing Director-General of the Liberia Civil Service Agency “lacks the requisite qualities needed to confirm him as Minister of Health, and recommend that he be denied the opportunity to serve in same post.”
Signatories to the recommendation included Senators Peter Coleman, Chairman; Armah Zolu Jallah, Joyce Musu Freeman-Sumo, Jewel Howard-Taylor, Geraldine Doe-Sherif; while Senators Nyonblee Kangar-Lawrence and Clarice Jah were distanced and unsigned.
The issue of requisite qualification was one of the sticky concerns raised by members of the committee when the Minister-designate appeared last Thursday for confirmation hearing.
Werner had informed the committee that he has basic knowledge in public health care from the Children’s Hospital in the State of Pennsylvania, and taught some public health courses at the Mother Patern College of Health Sciences in Monrovia.
During last Thursday’s hearing, Werner eloquently informed the Senators that he was going to the Ministry with a reservoir of vast experience in education, healthcare and public administration, which he claimed are important issues the country faces in the health care sector.
Mr. Werner asserted that what the Health Ministry needs and what he was capable of giving it is proven experience in personnel management to resolve personnel issues.
He informed the lawmakers that the country through the Ministry of Health was mobilizing vast resources for the post-Ebola health care sector, and that it will need an administrator to improve the systems that are there, “so that the country’s development partners, who are willing to give their resources can do so to hasten the process to eradicate Ebola; and at the same time improve the health care sector.
The Chair of the Committee, Senator Coleman, himself a Medical Doctor, during that hearing recalled that only “twice” had there been a Minister of Health that was not a practicing doctor.
However, the Daily Observer’s research shows actually, there were more than two non-medical doctors who served as Minister of Health – Mrs. Mai Padmore, President William R. Tolbert’s first Minister of Health; Counselor Oliver Bright, the second, Estrada Bernard, the third; and under Head of State Samuel K. Doe, Martha Sendolo Belleh, a nurse, who succeeded Dr. Kate Bryant in the early 1980s.
Political commentators believe the CSA Director-General’s rejection is an outcome of his recent interaction with the Senate, when he appeared before that body and was charged with contempt.
Werner had appeared before the Senate plenary after a communication to that body that the CSA boss was contemplating on dismissing thousands of civil servants, among them those who were sent home as non-essential staff in the wake of the Ebola pandemic.
The CSA boss was fined L$4,999.00 and asked to write letters of apology and print same in seven newspapers.