Warrap State Minister of Health Abak Yel (File photo)

Warrap: MPs ‘unconvinced’ by health minister’s answers after summon

Warrap State’s Minister of Health Abak Yel, who appeared before state parliament on Monday for questioning, failed to provide convincing explanations, MPs said.

Warrap State’s Minister of Health Abak Yel, who appeared before state parliament on Monday for questioning, failed to provide convincing explanations, MPs said.

Abak went to state parliament to answer questions posed by lawmakers regarding management of the health ministry’s affairs, poor health conditions and the increase of hospital consultation fees.

Speaking to Radio Tamazuj after the parliament sitting, the chairperson of the parliamentary committee for health, Alek Deng, said they were not satisfied with the health minister’s explanations.

“The health condition is bad. Our people are dying in hospitals, especially at Kuajok Main Hospital. There is no electricity and drugs, and this condition is worsening in the counties,” she said.

Deng further said the health situation is worsening because the minister is busy changing senior health staff with juniors.

“Another problem with the minister is her relations with staff. She has been changing senior staff with juniors like the director general,  a medical doctor, who has been replaced with a clinical officer. The same thing happened with the director for administration and finance,” she said.

The parliamentarian pointed out that the minister’s answers were not convincing and that the legislative assembly will debate and scrutinize the minister’s responses in the next sitting.

“We had summoned the minister since 7th March 2023, but due to the president’s visit, we pushed the sitting to today (Monday), so the legislators will discuss her answers, and she will be summoned again. She has a second chance to appear before the parliament,” she said.

In her presentation before the parliament, Minister Abak blamed the deteriorating health condition in the state on the withdrawal of the Health Pooled Fund (HPF) from the state and the allocation of a small budget to the health sector.

“The state ministry of health has been surviving on donors. And after Health Pooled Fund (HPF) pulled out in 2022, it created a vacuum that has affected the ministry in terms of human resources and provision of essential drugs to health facilities,” she said.

“The doctors in the hospital during the time of HPF were receiving $1,200, and nurses were receiving $ 600 compared to now, which is SSP 12,000 and SSP 8,000 for doctors and nurses, respectively. This has discouraged the employees nd most of them left the hospital to look for high-paying jobs elsewhere,” she added.

Health Pooled Fund, she said, used to supply the counties and primary health centres with essential medicines, but the lack of funding from the government has now affected the health sector.

“I have good working relations with the staff and the changes happened according to labour procedures and staff performances. The governor knows the change of the director general and other senior staff,” she concluded.

South Sudan has some of the worst health indicators in the world and international donors mostly fill a critical gap in healthcare financing in the country.