Strong warning

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PM tells Health minister Dr Tautai and his PS to pull up their socks

By Alfred Sasako

Health Minister Dr Tautai Agikimua Kaituu (Left) and Permanent Secretary for Health Ministry Dr Tenneth Dalipanda

PRIME Minister Rick Houenipwela has told a news conference in Honiara that he has written “strongly worded letters” to the Minister of Health and Medical Services, Hon Dr Tautai Agikimua Kaituu and Permanent Secretary Dr Tenneth Dalipada urging them “to pull up their socks.”

A “breakdown in management” was found to be responsible for the acute shortage of life-saving drugs at the National Referral Hospital. The shortage has also affected clinics and health centres operated by the Honiara City Council.

“It’s a strongly-worded letter,” he told the morning news conference on Thursday.

“I had to call the Minister of Health to return to Honiara on Saturday when I found out he was in his Constituency,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister’s revelation of talking tough comes a chorus of public support for both men to be sacked grew in intensity.

It is believed the Executive of the Democratic Alliance Party (DAP) has also weighed in, urging the Prime Minister to sack the two men.

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A former worker at the NRH Medical Store told Island Sun on Thursday the whole procurement system was “intentionally allowed to collapse” by those at the top echelon of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

“What happened today is what they had in mind. They wanted to bring the whole system into chaos,” the man who wished to remain anonymous told Island Sun.

“There was nothing wrong with the procurement system. What is wrong is the fact that orders and payments would simply gather dust at the Office of the Permanent Secretary.

“I was once pulled up by an acting Permanent Secretary as to why drugs and other medical supplies were not being purchased when supplies were almost nil. I simply told them that as Manager of the Hospital’s Drugs’ store, I had already sent in the paperwork, which was later found to be gathering dust while the Permanent Secretary was attending conference after conference overseas,” the man who spent 34 years in the Public Service said.

“In the end I became a scapegoat and was subsequently suspended. I have been out of work for three years now but thank goodness, the Public Service has thrown out my suspension because the reasons for the suspension did not stand up to scrutiny.

“I am grateful that I am being reinstated,” he said.

“But this is not the point of my story. I believe the Prime Minister must now take the appropriate steps in removing both the Minister and his Permanent Secretary.”

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