MOH Apologizes to Lawmakers
Officials of the Health and Social Welfare Ministry have apologized to members of the Liberian legislature for the unruly behaviors of Deputy Minister Bernice Dahn at last week’s budgetary hearing at the Capitol.
Health and Social Welfare Minister Dr. Walter Gwenigale and his deputy Dr. Bernice Dahn Wednesday in the conference room of the Lower House expressed deepest apology to members of that august body for the untamed manner exhibited.
In separate written communications to members of the House, especially the Joint Budget Committee, Dr. Dahn notes, “I realized my responses may have angered members of the Joint Committee which resulted to the abrupt suspension of the hearing. I wish to submit to you that I was in no way trying to disrespect members of the Joint Committee as I have full respect for this august body. However, I do not wish to vindicate myself from what may had happened Saturday, but humbly and sincerely apologize for whatever wrong I may have caused.”
The Deputy Health Minister in her letter dated August 13, 2012, expressed willingness to work closely with the Liberian Legislature in finding an amicable solution, adding “After a careful reflection of the incident, I realized that I was bit too emotional and may have spoken out of order.”
For his part, Minister Gwenigale wrote: “I consider as unacceptable what I have heard about Dr. Dahn’s statement before you all; I have asked her to write a letter of apology. I am pleased to send you Dr. Dahn’s letter of apology, with my personal plead that you accept her letter and forgive her. I offer all of you my own apology for the behavior of my Deputy Minister.”
Meanwhile, the Joint Committee of both the Liberian Senate and the House of Representatives through its Chairman Representative Emmanuel Nuquay accepted the apology and hope that such attitude will not be displaced by any member of the Executive Branch of Government.
Dr. Dahn’s trouble started when her respond to Lofa County’s Foya District Representative Eugene Fallah-Kpakar’s question was considered harsh and insulting by members of the Joint Legislative Committee conducting the budget hearing. Foya is the largest district in Lofa, but lacks a public hospital except faith-based health posts.
Representative Fallah-Kpakar asked whether there was any plan to either up-grade existing health posts to hospital level or to construct a public hospital if any allocation is made in the Ministry of Health’s proposed budget for 2012/2013.
Instead of replying in a positive tone, Dr. Dahn responded rather brashly: “Whether available or not, there is no plan”, on grounds that allocations made in the fiscal 2011/2012 budget to various health centers in the district were abused.
Her response prompted some members of the Joint Committee to ask who is to blame and who was booked and where is the report?
But Dahn’s failure to be submissive, coupled with aggressive responses or augment with the lawmakers landed her in hot water. She was left in charge of the ministry’s team in the absence of Minister Walter Gwenigale, who had left the hearing for some other urgent engagements.
She was immediately escorted out of the joint chamber by the Sergeant-At-Arm of the Liberian Legislature, Martin Johnson, while the entire hearing process for the Health Ministry was suspended indefinitely.