Minister Ramsammy's behaviour warrants disciplinary action
Stabroek News
December 13, 2001

Dear Editor,

Permit me space to express the ACDA's view on this unfortunate show of power by the Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy in his treatment of professionals in his Ministry.

Stabroek News' report on December 1, 2001 of a press conference held the previous day clearly suggested that Dr Leslie Ramsammy was so angry with the Chief Medical Officer Dr Rudolph Cummings that he decided to inflict punishment on him in form of barbs contained in the report. The Minister's impromptu press conference seems to have been motivated by his desire to rail at Dr Cummings for daring to be at variance with him on the issue of medical care meted out to Shahbodeen Kassim at the New Amsterdam Hospital on November 24, 2001. The said Stabroek News had on that Friday published an article contradicting Dr Ramsammy's earlier opinions on the Kassim death.

After the publication of the Minister's tirade in the December 1 edition of the SN, relatives of the deceased and letter writers began taking aim at the CMO. This now politicisation of the Kassim death must have done untold harm to the confidence of the health care professionals. ACDA supports the Medical Association in its claim that the Minister has patently over stepped his bounds. We hope that the Minister's views, which he shared publicly, do not unduly bias the work of the medical commission being set up to investigate the death of Kassim.

The Minister had made it clear that the doctors at New Amsterdam showed callous disregard for the obvious emergency, which Kassim represented. Further, he indicated that he was close to the Kassim family and as such was angry. It therefore made it difficult for him to accept the view of his chief technical officer. Given the Minister's position it is reasonable to assume that he betrayed his anger when he went back a week after the demise of Kassim to the New Amsterdam Hospital to demonstrate the proof that the doctors are not on duty on Saturday afternoons. In his zeal to demonstrate this, he perpetrated the reprehensible act of assaulting the on-call doctor.

We have spoken out on this. It is our belief that the Minister's action and attitude are tantamount to public mischief and warrant appropriate disciplinary actions. There is evidence also that the Minister's behaviour is not uncharacteristic outside the hallowed walls of political power and is largely directed towards particular individuals. We believe this unfettered demonstration of political power against professionals cannot augur well for the future professionals inputs into health policy.

We call on the government to curb Minister Ramsammy's misconception of the power that he wields and to restore the decorum characteristic of the cordial working relationship which should exist between a Minister and his technicians.

Yours faithfully,

S Egerton Cooke


African Cultural & Development Association