BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS – Sixteen months after taking office, the Timothy Harris-led PLP/CCM/PAM coalition government has plunged the Ministry of Health into a dysfunctional state.
Deputy Political Leader of the opposition St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party Dr Earl Asim Martin said the three health ministers in the Ministry of Health lack the basic understanding of the ministry.
“Health Minister Eugene Hamilton, Health Minister Wendy Phipps and Health Minister Jean Condor basically do not understand what is happening in the ministry. It pains my heart because having built a ministry from where it was in 1995 to where we left it in 2015, to see that in a matter of 16 months, the condition of the health centre and three ministers are not able to do the work of one minister and we have all these problems,” said Dr. Martin on Freedom FM “Issues” programme on Wednesday.
He lashed out at the government for removing the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Mr Andrew Skerritt and the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Patrick Martin.
“Imagine a Ministry without a Permanent Secretary, the chief administrator within the ministry and the person who accepts and sees all documents in respect to international and regional institutors, like PAHO, WHO, NIOSH, KARIRI and CARPHA as well as the CARICOM and OECS secretariats. The ministry is without a Chief Medical Officer, the main technical person within the ministry. Who is offering technical assistance within the ministry over the last week? Is it Wendy? Is it Hamilton? Is it Mrs Condor? Who is giving technical assistance,” said Dr Martin, a former minister of health and a physician by training.
He said the Timothy Harris administration is in violation of the Public Health Act.
“With the absence of a Permanent Secretary and the Chief Medical Officer, within that same ministry there is no Principal Nursing Officer. Within that same ministry, there is also no Administrative Officer. At the JNF Hospital there is no Director of Health Institutions and that is why someone can just introduce an unauthorised stem cell project at the hospital. There is also no operations manager and these vacancies have existed for over a year to 16 months.
There is also no Accounts Officer as the person who was in that post has been sent on pre-retirement leave and has not been replaced,” said Dr Martin, adding: “what do you expect but scandal after scandal after scandal and persons are afraid to go to the hospital.”He described the Stem Cell Scandal as “the biggest scandal in health in the history of St. Kitts and Nevis.”
“The CMO had no opportunity to see any documentation on the operationalisation of a stem cell research project. Doctors who were not licenced to practice in St Kitts and Nevis were not approved by the Medical Board. It was illegal. Dr Patrick Martin, based on the law saw that it was improper had his service terminated by the government,” said Dr. Martin, who quickly pointed out that anyone who professionally challenges the new PLP/CCM/PAM government on legal and technical grounds “the only solution is to get rid of them.”
“This is a vindictive government, a spiteful government, a government full of malice at all levels,” said Dr. Martin who insisted that there are several questions which must be answered.