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Ministry caught in tussle between two secretaries

- NAYAK PAUDEL, Kathmandu

Jan 13, 2019-

The dispute at the Ministry of Health and Population that stemmed from the government’s unsuccessful attempt to replace Health Secretary Dr Pushpa Chaudhary with Kedar Bahadur Adhikari is unlikely to resolve anytime soon.

Both Chaudhary and Adhikari are currently occupying the post of health secretary, which has affected the daily operations of the ministry. The attempts made so far by Health Minister Upendra Yadav to restore normalcy in the ministry’s daily affairs have not yielded any results.

To strike a balance between the two warring secretaries, Yadav on Tuesday decided to divide the responsibilities between Chaudhary and Adhikari.

“The division of work was necessary because of equal authorities given to both secretaries,” said Mahendra Prasad Shrestha, the ministry spokesperson.

Under the new arrangement, Chaudhary will be looking after health policies and the Department of Health Services while Adhikari will be overseeing the Department of Drug Administration, the Ayurveda sector and the matters relating to population.

But Yadav’s solution has failed to douse the tension between the two secretaries.

Adhikari has rejected outright Yadav’s offer.

“I don’t follow the minister’s order because I was sent here by the Cabinet. I will only accept this responsibility if the Cabinet asks me to do so,” Adhikari told the Post.

Chaudhary has, meanwhile, accepted Yadav’s instruction. “I will follow the order because it will improve the ministry’s work. I have no objection and there should not be any from Secretary Adhikari as well,” she said.

If the relations between Chaudhary and Adhikari continue to drag, the ministry officials say, the country’s health sector will suffer the most.

“Since there are two secretaries holding equal authority in the ministry, officials are confused as to whom to answer,” an official said.

“If we are struggling to work under two secretaries, then you can only imagine how difficult it is for others visiting the ministry with their problems.”

Published: 13-01-2019 08:16

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