The Minister of Health-designate, Major Courage Quashigah (retd),has said that he is a “coup stopper and not a coup maker”. He explained that he was proud to have been the Chief Operations Officer at the Gondar Barracks during the government of the erstwhile Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC).
“I am proud to have been the Chief Operations Officer in the PNDC government,”he said. Responding to a question by Capt George Nfodjo (rtd),the MP for Ho Central, during the vetting of ministerial nominees by the Appointments Committee of Parliament in Accra yesterday, Major Quashigah said his involvement in the defunct government saved a number of situations concerning certain individuals.
He said during the proceedings of the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), a number of witnesses testified that their well-being was protected by him during the PNDC era.
Capt Nfodjo, who had been ruled out by the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Mr Freddie Blay, for asking questions which perhaps were sensitive, read out the various positions Major Quashigah held in that regime and asked him to comment on them when he was given another opportunity to do so.
He had then enquired from the minister-designate why he was not re-assigned to either the Interior or Defence ministries, considering his rich military background and wondered whether or not he was ashamed of his past due to his association with the PNDC regime.
The minister-designate said his curriculum vitae(CV) did not include his position as the Chief Operations Officer in the PNDC regime and promised to revise his CV accordingly. Spelling out his vision for the Health Ministry when confirmed as its minister, Major Quashigah said it was his intention to ensure a healthy workforce for the nation.
“I am committed to good health through personal hygiene, environmental cleanliness and recreation, which we have not paid much attention to,”the minister-designate said.
He said he was also committed to the control of infectious and non-infectious diseases, stressing that “ if we were abiding by these,there would have been less pressure on doctors and other health professionals”.
Major Quashigah said his ministry would also support existing private nursing institutions in the country to produce more nurses to meet the needs of the broad masses of the people. “There are not many private institutions in the country and we need to support them because nurses hold our lives in their hands,” he said.
Commenting on the exodus of nurses to seek greener pastures abroad, the minister-designate pointed out that there was a programme in place to motivate nurses to stay and work in the country.
When the MP for Bole-Bamboi,Mr John Mahama, asked the nominee about his views on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS),Major Quashigah said the programme,when it fully became operational,would bring lasting relief to the people,especially the vulnerable and disadvantaged.
“I have absolute confidence in the NHIS. As a nation , we should pursue the scheme to help poor people to access it,”he said.He said when confirmed,he would study all documents related to the scheme and involve the various stakeholders in the Health Ministry in order to address perceived bottlenecks that were affecting its smooth implementation.
When the MP for Nadowli West and Minority Leader, Mr Alban Bagbin,asked Major Quashigah to brief the committee on the true state of the Aveyime Rice Project,the minister-designate said his ministry, on a regular basis despatched its agricultural engineers to maintain the facilities at the project site.
He said the government was in the process of securing an investor to manage the project to reap its maximum potential for the benefit of the rice industry in the country