How Haufiku lied about the health professions bill

Attorney general Sacky Shanghala has challenged health minister Bernard Haufiku about being frustrated by his colleagues in government.

Haufiku vented his anger and frustrations during a Whatsapp chat with other doctors on the Namibia Medical Society page last year.

One of the issues Haufiku raised was the delay of the health professions bill, for which he blames Shanghala.

Haufiku also told The Namibian that Shanghala was holding the draft bill.

The Villager has copies of Haufiku and Shanghala's correspondence on the issue of the bill.

Despite Haufiku's claims that the draft bill was being delayed, his letter dated 7 December addressed Shanghala does not say the same.

In the letter, Haufiku indicated that the draft bill with amended sections as proposed by Shanghala would be sent back to the attorney general's office as soon as it was finalised.

It is not clear when the suggested amendments were made, and the bill sent to the attorney general's office to warrant Haufiku to complain about delays.

In his letter dated 6 February 2018, Shanghala tells Haufiku that instead of blaming other colleagues, Haufiku should take the blame for delaying the bill.

Shanghala said he waited for Haufiku to send back the draft bill last year and even when he finally received it, he had to point out some areas that needed a review.

"I don't find it collegial for you to engage the media in exposing a colleague, particularly when such exposure is unwarranted, untruthful and potentially defamatory," Shanghala wrote. 

The attorney general also said he had shown nothing but professional and collegial assistance to Haufiku and went so far as to attach lawyers to the health ministry to help.

Former health minister Richard Kamwi spearheaded the drafting of the bill in 2014 and submitted it to the Five Health professions Councils.

The bill went through consultation and then approved by the Ministerial Policy Management, Development and Research Committee.

Haufiku said in his letter that when he became health minister, the bill was due for the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.

"I was advised against conducting further consultation on the Bill. During 2017, I engaged with the Pharmaceutical Society of Namibia and shared the Bill," he said, despite having been advised not to seek further consultation.

Haufiku also said the pharmaceutical society sought clarification on some provisions.

"I am of the view that those who wish to provide further comments to the Bill should be encouraged to do so once the Bill is on the floor of parliament," Haufiku said.

The exchange between Shanghala and Haufiku appears to suggest the minister has issues with his colleagues after his much-publicised fallout with his former permanent secretary Andreas Mwoombola last year.

Typically, Haufiku called the media to denounce Mwoombola and accused him of all the problems bedevilling the health ministry.

Among some of the accusations, Haufiku heaped on Mwoombola's shoulders was corruption, which the minister said was to blame for the shortages of medicine in state hospitals.

Haufiku also dragged the media to a warehouse to show a few boxes of what he said were medical supplies that had not been distributed to hospitals.

At the time, Haufiku declared that either Mwoombola had to go or he would leave.

Mwoombola was subsequently transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister where redundant permanents secretaries end up.

While Haufiku is worried about the draft bill, diseases are taking charge.

Hepatitis E has so far killed three mothers and left three orphans. It also killed two unborn babies and left two mothers childless.

More than 500 others have either been hospitalised or just escaped from the grip of hepatitis E.

On Tuesday, Haufiku's ministry issued a malaria red alert for the northern regions where Kamwi's success with reducing the spread of malaria has been whittled down.

Apart from the resurgence of malaria, Congo fever has reared its head again after one person was hospitalised at the Windhoek Central Hospital.

This is the second time during Haufiku's tenure that Congo fever has erupted. In February 2017, Congo fever killed two people and had more than nine others quarantined.

The situation in the referral hospitals has not improved a bit to match Haufiku's busybody attitude.

On Tuesday, The Namibian reported that Katutura Intermediate Hospital had gone without water for three days.

It was the second time in as many months the same paper had carried stories about hospitals going without water for days.

The Namibian also carried the story of leprosy victims in the Kavango region who called on President Hage Geingob to help them because they had been forgotten.

During Kamwi's time, leprosy victims were remembered from time to time either through donations from companies or visits to comfort them.

This has not happened ever since Haufiku became health minister, whose concern is not the patient but the professionals who are themselves served well by their councils.

This is happening while Haufiku is concerned with other things that do not serve his constituency - the poor patients.