Senate C’ttee Recommends Tolbert Nyenswah Confirmation

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The Senate Committee on Gender, Health, Women, Social Welfare and Children Protection, has recommended the unanimous confirmation of Deputy Minister of Health-designate for disease, surveillance and epidemic control, Tolbert D. Nyenswah.

According to the recommendation contained in the committee’s confirmation hearing report read before plenary yesterday, Mr. Nyenswah was found to possess the requisite educational background and work experience to effectively discharge the duties and functions of Deputy Minister of Health.

Following a thorough examination of the statement made by the nominee and his record of service with the Ministry of Health for 17 years, the committee chaired by Senator (Dr.) Peter S. Coleman said it was convinced of Nyenswah’s passion, determination, caring leadership and managerial skills and a commitment to excellence.

The recommendation states that “The Committee also observed that he is a highly effective and an excellent strategic planner and program implementer as exemplified during the Ebola crisis, with the ability to find solutions to challenging problems. His vision (regarding) disease surveillance and epidemic control will positively and effectively impact the Ministry of Health in building a resilient health care system in Liberia,” said the report.

“The committee is convinced that the nominee has the requisite educational background and work experience to effectively discharge the duties and functions of Deputy Minister for Disease, Surveillance and Epidemic Control, and in view of the foregoing, the committee is pleased without any reservation to recommend to the plenary of the Liberian Senate to unanimously confirm the nominee for the post he was nominated to occupy.”

The confirmation hearing done on June 24 was signed by Senators Jim Tornolah, Daniel F. Naatehn, J. Bleh-bo Brown, members, and Peter S. Coleman, Chairman.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf recently nominated Nyenswah to a position that does not exist at the Ministry of Health which raised eyebrows among lawmakers, including Senator Coleman who argued that if one should be created, an amendment to the Act creating the Ministry of Health was needed.

The lawmakers contended that the creation of such a position needed to be legislated, and that until the President proposed an amendment to that law, Mr. Nyenswah was not considered a candidate for confirmation hearing.

But in her letter of nomination to the Senate, President Sirleaf countered that her action was in keeping with an Act to amend the New Executive Law, which provides for the appointment of more than one deputy minister within a ministry as was approved on May 16, 1974.

It can be recalled that during his appearance before the Senate plenary a few days ago, Mr. Nyenswah, who heads the Incident Management System (IMS) for the fight against the Ebola Virus, warned that while Liberia had seen zero cases of Ebola for quite some time, there was a possibility of re-introduction of the disease in the country.

He however asserted that so long as there was appropriate recognition, triage, isolation and treatment of re-introduced cases, “we can prevent the spread of infection in our country.”

He cautioned that closure of the borders with neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone is only a cosmetic fix to solving the problem.

The fear created by the warning had hardly subsided when Mr. Nyenswah announced the most dreaded news Monday evening that there was a very likely confirmed case of the deadly Ebola virus disease in Liberia, contracted by a 17-year-old boy who died last Saturday.

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