Opposition MPs ‘fed-up’ with his continuous misleading public statements
urge Gov’t to stop interfering in functioning of statutory authorities, particularly those designed to protect public’s interest
Minister of Public Health Dr. George Norton was given is a thorough roasting by three Members of Parliament representing the PPP/C Opposition, for his seemingly constant ability to attract and being embroiled in one scandal after another.
The Opposition MPs, Dr Frank Anthony, Dr Bheri Ramsaran and Dr Vishwa Mahadeo – all three of whom are well-respected Medical Doctors, said this points to Dr Norton’s inability to treat with the health of this nation.
“We are deeply concerned about the Minister’s continuous misleading public statements made both in and out of the National Assembly,” the Opposition parliamentarians said in a joint statement last night.
(The following press statement was issued last night on behalf of Opposition Parliamentarians, Hon Dr. Frank Anthony, M.P., Hon. Dr. Bheri Ramsarran, M.P., and Hon. Dr. Vishwa Mahadeo, M.P.)
We the undersigned Members of Parliament are appalled by statements attributed to the Minister of Public Health Dr. George Norton. The Minister is reported to have instructed the Head of the Guyana Food and Drug Administration on how to execute his mandate. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is an independent regulatory statutory body and must be allowed to execute its mandate in accordance with its governing statutes and without any political interference. Over the last few months this Agency has come under extreme pressure from the Minister to bend the rules to facilitate certain favoured importers. We recall, not so long ago that Lillac milk imported by International Pharmaceutical Agency (IPA) owned by Lloyd Singh was withdrawn because it was unfit for consumption by babies. A few days ago, the Stabroek News reported that the FDA seized erythropoietin injections supplied by the same company.
These favoured persons are attempting to import items that do not meet the most basic requirements set out in the relevant Regulations of the Food and Drug Act, according to the Director of the FDA, Mr. Marlon Cole. The Director has refused entry of such items and has seized, in some instances, offensive items already improperly imported. However, the regulatory agency is being pressured by the Minister of Public Health, Dr George Norton, to release these items for consumption by the general public without due regard to public health concerns.
We are appalled by the Minister’s blatant interference and call on him to desist from such unlawful actions and to immediately withdraw these offending instructions and allow the watchdog agency to independently fulfill its mandate. The Minister must cease usurping the functions and authority of the Director. The Minister appears oblivious, that his action exposes every citizen to serious health risks.
We are similarly appalled by the equally intrusive actions of the Minister with regard to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) Board. We condemn the Minister’s usurpation of the functions of the Chairman of the Board, Dr. Carl Hanoman. The Minister compounds the problem by lambasting the Chairman for informing the nation that there is a shortage of drugs.
We are deeply concerned about the Minister’s continuous misleading public statements made both in and out of the National Assembly. His latest assertion that there is no shortage of drugs and medical supplies at the GPHC has not only been contradicted by Dr. Hanoman but is also easily and verifiably inaccurate.
This Minister has been constantly embroiled in one scandal after another and this points to his inability to treat with the health of this nation. We urge the government to stop interfering in functioning of statutory authorities, particularly those designed to protect the public’s interest.