The Senate’s Statutory Committee on Health, Gender and Social Welfare unprecedentedly aborted the confirmation hearing of Liberia’s Health Minister – designate Doctor Wilhemina Jallah, terming it as ‘unconstitutional.’
Senators had assembled in the William Richard Tolbert Joint Chambers at the Capitol Building to conduct a confirmation hearing of Doctor Jallah on Monday, 5 March when Maryland County Senator J. Gble-bo Brown raised issue that the nominee is currently in court for the death of a patient at her private hospital.
Doctor Jallah is currently facing a lawsuit for the ‘wrongful death’ of Pastor Desiree Fahnbulleh at the nominee’s privately run Hope for Women International Incorporated Hospital in Paynesville during childbirth on December 8, 2016.
Sen. Brown argues that it would be unusual and unprecedented for members of the Senate to conduct confirmation hearing that could lead Doctor Jallah to being a Health Minister of Liberia when she still faces legal battle.
He warns that the Senate would be setting a bad precedent for governments to come if it goes ahead to conduct such hearing for someone who is facing legal battle for alleged professional ‘blunder’ which reportedly led to the death of another Liberian at her hospital.
The Fahnbulleh family filed a US$6m action for damages for wrongful death against the hospital, and the case appears to be far from over. Days after the appointment of Doctor Jallah by President George Manneh Weah as Health Minister designate, the victim’s family began protesting the nomination due to the death of their relative.
Mr. Larry Fahnbulleh, widower of the late Pastor Desiree Fahnbulleh, who is leading the family protest, has urged President Weah to withdraw Doctor Jallah’s appointment.
The Liberia Medical and Dental Council (LMDC) in its 2017 investigative report held Women of Hope Hospital International liable for the ‘wrongful death’. But Grand Cape Mount County Senator Cllr. Varney Sherman argues that Doctor Jallah cannot be punished for action that she did not carry out as a person, instead the health institution that she owns.
Cllr. Sherman, whose wife, Joyce Sherman is deputy Health Minister at the Ministry of Health debated that crimes are not transferable. But the writ served on the Hope for Women indicates Doctor Jallah as one of the persons to be answerable to the court at the Temple of Justice.
Sen. Sherman was supported by Sinoe County Senator J. Milton Teahjay who told his colleagues that the Doctor Jallah should be given the opportunity to serve.
During the hearing, Doctor Jallah refused to respond to questions relating to the case on grounds that the matter is still before the court.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Edited by Winston W. Parley