MPs of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) on Wednesday decided to hold a secret vote to determine the party’s parliamentary group’s stand on reappointing Dr Mariyam Shakeela as health minister.
Shakeela is up for Majlis approval for a second time after President Abdulla Yameen modified her initial portfolio as Minister of Health and Gender.
The gender department was transferred on July 1 to the new Ministry of Law and Gender to be headed by Attorney General Mohamed Anil.
According to local media, 21 of the 24 PPM MPs present at a parliamentary group meeting decided on a secret ballot following a dispute between MPs over reappointing Shakeela.
The vote will be held at a PPM parliamentary group meeting on Monday at 12:30pm.
In response, Shakeela told the press she has no issue with failing to gain the required votes if MPs do not see her work in strengthening the health sector.
“What can I say? Every day, there is a lot of work underway at this ministry [to strengthen the health sector]. If [MPs] do not see this effort, then I have no problem if they don’t vote,” she told reporters on Wednesday.
Local news agency Haveeru has claimed 21 out of 35 MPs present at a meeting in late July voted against approving Shakeela for the position. MPs are reportedly dissatisfied with Shakeela’s performance in the past eight months.
The Health Ministry has been under fire following a series of protests over regional health care services and health mishaps in Malé.
The state owned Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) – long criticised for lack of qualified doctors, adequate medical facilities, and medicine – transfused HIV positive blood to a patient due to an alleged technical error.
In June, councilors of southern Fuvahmulah Island called for Shakeela’s resignation after a case of stillbirth, an interrupted caesarean, and the death of a soldier on the island. A few weeks later, over 300 protestors demonstrated in front of northern Kulhudhuffushi Island over deteriorating conditions at the regional hospital on the island.
Shakeela was first appointed to the cabinet by former President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan in May 2012. At the time, she held the Environment and Energy portfolio. President Abdulla Yameen reappointed Shakeela to the cabinet in November 2013 with the health portfolio.
The former 77-member Majlis approved Shakeela to the position with 43 votes in favor.
PPM’s parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan was not responding at the time of press.
The ruling party holds a majority in the People’s Majlis with 43 of the 85-member house. PPM’s ally the Maldives Development Alliance controls an additional five seats.