Mozambique Ex-Health Minister, Helder Martins, Resigns from COVID-19 Taskforce

Helder Martins, Mozambique’s former Minister of Health, has resigned from the Technical-Scientific Commission for the Prevention and Combat of Pandemic of COVID-19, citing bad leadership and a lack of consultation.

Martins accused the Mozambican government of ignoring the Commission’s advice and sometimes not asking for its opinion on coronavirus (Covid-19) matters, including on the reopening of bars and casinos which he said led to a rise in virus cases.

Martins, a former governor considered to be the founder of the National Health System, leaves the COVID-19 taskforce 11 months after joining the commission.

In his letter of resignation to President Filipe Nyusi, Martins said: “The Technical-Scientific Committee was born crooked: A Technical-Scientific Committee cannot be directed by a politician, and a minister, even though a very brilliant doctor and academic, on the day he takes office as minister becomes a politician.

“From the beginning, there was a clear intention to introduce political factors in the management of the epidemic. An epidemic cannot be managed by politicians. But in the beginning, there was a benefit of the doubt: We were going to see if the very brilliant doctor and scientist, who had not had a political background, was able, for a few hours a week, to forget that he was a Minister.”

Minister of Health, Armindo Tiago, says that he respects Mr Martins’ decision to leave and that the team will continue with its mandate.

Martins was Mozambique’s first health minister after independence in 1975.

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