Wells to be sworn in as Minister of Health today

Wells to be sworn in as Minister of Health today
Minister of Health Renward Wells (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Transport and Local Government Minister Renward Wells will be sworn in today at Government House as the next minister of health.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis made the announcement during a national address Sunday.

In a statement from the Cabinet Office, it was announced that Governor General CA Smith had appointed Wells to the post.

Senator Dion Foulkes, Minister of Labour, will absorb the portfolio for transport and local government.

The prime minister also revealed that Bains and Grants Town MP Travis Robinson will be reinstated as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation — a role he was fired from in 2018.

This will be the Bamboo Town MP’s third ministerial post.

Minnis said: “Renward Wells is a doer, who knows how to get things done.

“During my recent tenure as Minister of Health, I consolidated and brought forward a health care infrastructure program to upgrade the country’s health infrastructure, which I detailed during the recent debate on the 2020/2021 National Budget.

Minnis said: “This includes upgrades to the Princess Margaret Hospital, clinics throughout the country and planning for a new Rand Memorial Hospital.

“While the medical officials continue to lead the charge in the battle against COVID-19, I have instructed Minister Wells to move aggressively to upgrade our health care infrastructure.

“He is also charged with working with public health officials on boosting immunizations and vaccinations for various childhood diseases, some of which have lagged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minnis said: “He will also work with public health officials to improve our readiness for a variety of public health threats including potential pandemics.”

Wells, a mechanical engineer, served as the minister of agriculture and marine resources when the Free National Movement assumed office in May 2017.

He was appointed as the minister of transport and local government in July 2018, during a Cabinet reshuffle where were three other ministers took on different portfolios.

In early May, the prime minister “temporarily” assumed the position of minister of health after Dr Duane Sands resigned from the post.

At the time, Minnis said he would appoint another minister of health as “soon as we open and we’ve gotten over this COVID”.

He said he had someone in mind for the role who he believed will do an “excellent job as a senior minister”.

“I look at the broader picture,” Minnis said.

“I look at the whole parliamentary setup. I look at the Cabinet now.

“I look at backbenchers and I would enter discussions with individuals. And we take a lot of factors into consideration.”

As the country faces a resurgence of new infections, there was a view in some quarters that the next minister of health would be a doctor familiar with the healthcare system and the nuances of the ongoing crises.

Sands resigned in May over a controversial decision to allow six permanent residents  to enter the country and isolate at home while the borders remained closed.

A day before his resignation, the prime minister noted protocol had been “breached” in allowing the group to do so.

In his resignation letter, Sands wrote his continued presence on the Cabinet may serve as a distraction from the government’s effort to manage the spread of the virus in the country.