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Health minister faces pressure to foot bills for officials' sick relatives

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - A member of the cabinet has accused her colleagues and Members of Parliament of forcing the Health Department to the foot for their medical bills, including those incurred by their sick relatives, it has emerged, in the latest accusation which exposes the government's inefficiencies.

Dr. Fawziya Abikar, Somalia's minister for Health said several MPs and cabinet ministers were piling pressure on her department to pay for medical bills at the Turkish-run Erdogan Hospital formerly Digfeer Hospital, where most the VIPs get treatment in Somalia.

In a swipe against her colleagues in government, Dr. Abikar insisted that the administration has no moral obligation to foot such bills and asked for them to be "tolerant and patriotic" enough. The hospital is a private facility that was opened by the Turkish government as a way of improving medical care in the Horn of Africa nation.

She said: "I have a problem with MPs and cabinet ministers who pile pressure on me to pay bills for their sick relatives at Erdogan hospital in Mogadishu."

The minister, who was reappointed recently by the new Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble who formed a government this month which is yet to be approved by the country's parliament. 

She has accused MPs try to hoodwink the health ministry to give them medical packages to take to their regions as a strategy to boost their re-election chances.

"Some want us to camp in their constituencies just as a strategy to boost their re-election chances. This doesn't reflect the government policy. We are not going to work in such a manner," she added.

Her claims come a few months after the government convicted top officials from the ministry and that of finance for engaging in fraudulent deals among them embezzlement of donor funds. The conviction won praises from members of the international community.

The ministry has also been praised for the efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic which seems to be subsiding in Somalia. The country had recorded close to 4,000 infections and 104 deaths but the rate of contractions has substantially reduced in recent months, according to government statistics.

Somalis are scheduled to go for elections for new MPs starting next December after a pre-election deal that was signed in September. The presidential elections will be held in 2021 February after the completion of parliamentary elections.


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