Dr. Kateh: "This is why I think is necessary we purge health practitioners involved in unethical behaviors at any of our facility."
Authorities of the Ministry of Health have announced the suspension of the five health workers, who were recently arrested and sent to court in connection with the alleged theft of 80 cartons of malnourished patients' peanut butter. The situation was reported at the government-run J.J. Dossen referral hospital in Harper, Maryland County.
On May 14, 2019, five health workers at the J.J. Dossen Hospital were arrested and sent to court for allegedly stealing at least 34 cartons of malnourished peanut butter. The five health workers were identified as Anthony Elliott, a member of the county health team; Richard G. Daivs, ambulance driver; P. Yuah Johnson, chief security; George Dokie, county pharmacist; and Audrey M. Cole, nutrition supervisor.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francis Nah Kateh, who gave the directive to suspend the accused, said the ministry took the decision so that the five health workers can tell the ministry how the peanut butter intended for the patients got out of the hospital's compound.
Dr. Kateh said if they failed to do so, "whatsoever decision that will fall in the ministry's purview, will be made, while a legal team on the other hand is going to take the actions that are necessary to save the government from losing to criminals."
He said that some of the over 80 cartons of malnourished patient's peanut that got missing was found in the homes of some individuals (not named), 30 in the bushes near the health facility, while some were also discovered in the ambulance.
According to Dr. Kateh, "the ministry cannot continue to see such thing going on in the health sector."
He said that the ministry has resolved to take the necessary steps against those allegedly involved in the theft, "to either be dismissed and sent to jail or made to pay for the stolen food stuff."
Dr. Kateh said that if the court was going to make a decision in the case, the ministry was not going to hesitate, but to immediately dismiss them. "But the court went ahead dismissing the case on grounds that it has no legal basis."
However, Kateh said that with all the evidence presented to the court, the judge threw the case out, "but how be it, that is the law and that we cannot fight against it, but to take our own decision as a ministry against the five accused."
In a related development, Dr. Kateh said the ministry is under the obligation to engage its partners so as to help vulnerable and malnourished children and patients with peanut butter that will rebuild their system.
Dr. Kateh said while the five suspects were serving their indefinite suspension, they are being asked to turn over all government properties in their possession, and that the ministry's legal team will go to the county to further investigate the current status of the case.