Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 29, 2016 (SKNIS): At his monthly press conference held Wednesday June 29, Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris disclosed several transfers to be made in a number of senior civil servant positions. Most of the announcements made were related to and directly as a result of changes made within the Ministry of Health.
According to Prime Minister Harris, “Our Ministry of Health continues to deliver benefits to the country and I am proud of the collaborative efforts of Senator Honourable Wendy Phipps and Honourable Minister Eugene Hamilton. We inherited a Ministry, which was dysfunctional and in crisis management mode. At the heart of the problem was the breakdown of communication between the Permanent Secretary and Chief Medical Officer. We are working assiduously to ensure that the Ministry of Health performs at optimal levels. In this regard, certain changes are being effected.”
With the pre- retired Chief Medical Officer Dr. Patrick Martin slated to demit office after his vacation leave, the prime minister announced that the Medical Chief of Staff and Chief Surgeon at Joseph N. France Hospital, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, is now Acting Chief Medical Officer. The prime minister however indicated the Cabinet has made a decision to procure the expertise of an unnamed individual to succeed Dr. Martin in the near future.
Among other changes made in the Ministry of Health, the prime minister noted that Mr. Andrew Skerritt, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, has been transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister to address initiatives relating to the prime minister’s lead responsibility in CARICOM’S Quasi Cabinet for Human Resources, Health and HIV, better known as COHSOD. The Prime Minister said Mr. Skerritt’s background as health planner and experience as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health make him an ideal candidate for this post. “Mr. Skerritt and I have had an amicable working relationship. He knows my expectations and he has consented to give the country his very best,” said Dr. Harris.
With Mr. Skerritt’s position becoming vacant as a result of his transfer, the Prime Minister made the announcement that Mrs. Ionie Liburd-Willett, who currently serves as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and related Ministries since August 2011, will fill the position of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health. The prime minister noted his confidence in Mrs. Liburd-Willett to discharge her duties effectively. “She has served the country well as the Permanent Secretary. She will bring that wealth of experience to bear in management of the Ministry of Health,” he said
To compensate the Ministry of Education for the vacancy created by the departure of the permanent secretary, the prime minister disclosed that the Government has already made the necessary provisions to have the position filled. Although he indicated that the individual earmarked to fill the position is a returning citizen, he opted to make the announcement of that individual at a later date. He however boasted of the capabilities of the individual to execute duties at the optimal level. He said, “The Ministry of Education has already tapped into one of our finest and accomplished educators to assume responsibility as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education.”
The Ministry of Health took the spotlight among the agenda items noted in the Prime Minister’s opening address. In light of the recent public hype surrounding the regenerative medicine research taking place at the Joseph N. France Hospital, a delegation from the Ministry of Health, including Mr. Andrew Skerritt; Dr. Cameron Wilkinson; Mrs. Sonia Daly, Director of Institution Based Health Services; Ms. Gail Cranstoun, Health Information Systems Administrator/Acting Operations Manager; and Dr. Dwain Archibald, Medical Officer, Accident and Emergency Department, were present at the press conference to support the Government’s position.