By EDDIE OSIFELO
THE Bills and Legislative Committee (BLC) has questioned the Public Health and Emergency Bill 2021, suggesting it may lead to political ‘manipulation’.
That’s because the Secretary to Cabinet is the chairperson of the National Health Emergency Council as stipulated in Section 27 of the Bill.
BLC members including chairman, Mathew Wale raised this issue when Ministry of Health and Medical Service officials appeared before them in Parliament yesterday.
The Committee is scrutinising the Bill, which aims to provide suitable and urgent responses to public health emergencies and circumstances that threaten the health of the persons and communities of Solomon Islands.
The bill aims to enable a range of operational capabilities and activities that will be able to quickly respond to such emergencies and circumstances and prevent, mitigate, eliminate the contamination, disease or other occurrence causing the emergencies and circumstances, and recover from them.
Member of Parliament for Small Malaita and former Prime Minister, Rick Hou believed the Chairperson of the NHEC should be a medical expert to provide scientific evidence to the government to make decision.
Hou said with due respect, it is unnecessary to appoint an administrator to lead a health-related issue.
He warns there is likely political tendency and consideration to overtake it.
Independent Leader, John Dean Kuku said it seems the Ministry of Health and Medical Services is giving away the Bill rather than taking control of it.
East Are Are MP, Peter Kenilorea Junior said the purpose of the Bill naturally should be health driven.
Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Pauline McNeil has taken note of the crucial role health will play in the Bill and the need for the ownership as the Ministry is the custodian and leadership of the Bill.
Mrs McNeil said the NHEC replicates the function of the Oversight Committee instead of the Health.
Incident Controller, Nemia Bainivalu said the idea of NHEC involves a whole government approach to drive the health issue.
The hearing continues today.