Liberia: LMHRA Faces Leadership Struggle

-employees want Managing Director out

What seems a complete power struggle and an imminent disintegration is unfolding at the Liberia Medicine Health Regulatory Authority or (LMHRA) with several employees of the entity calling for the removal of Acting Managing Director, Doctor David Sumo, terming his presence there illegal.

The disenchanted employees argue that Dr. David Sumo'sposition as head of the LMHRA is illegal on grounds that he was not formally appointed by President George M. Weah.

Dr. David Sumo, a professional pharmacist, trained by the Government of Liberia, was retained by the Weah administration as Acting Managing Director because of his experience and knowledge in the health sector.

But appearing on Fabric Radio Tuesday, August 7, the embattled LMHRA boss explained he was called to a meeting recently by the House of Representatives' Committee on Health formerly headed by Hon. Saa Joseph now Senator of Montserrado County, along with other members of the committee to discuss the status of the entity.

He claims during the meeting, the former Representative Joseph asked him to remain in the post as Managing Director of the LMHRA, being the only qualified person at the moment, while search continues for a suitable replacement, adding,"I accepted to remain, but requested for such to be in writing that's how the committee headed by Saa Joseph did a communication to the acting human resources manager, demanding him to turn over to me that's how I remain acting managing director."

Doctor Sumo narrates that after that meeting, he continually follow up to ascertain whether a new appointment was in the making, but later this year the problem at the entity started with new staff who joined the entity, and "I told them that they were not going to be fully employed because they need capacity building, and specialized skills training for some time to know the kind of job that we do before we can incorporate them, as drug issues cannot be taken for joke."

He notes that his stance on new employment sparks the current confusion among the staff, with some expressing dissatisfaction.However, he says the issue was discussed, but some staff took a different position, calling him names."Some said I was an opposition and I don't need to head the entity; they want me removed."Doctor Sumo continues thatprior to leaving for a meeting to Nigeria week before last to tackle the issue of Tramadox in the region that is affecting many youth, he went to inform the current Chair of the House Committee on Health, Joseph Somwarbi about his trip.

"But to my surprise, I received an email from the Human Resource Manager, informing me that Representative Joseph Somwarbi, and Senator Saa Joseph had mandated him (Resource Manager) to take charge of the entity, and I should turn over to him, but I responded to him to send me the official copy of the communication from Senator Joseph and Representative Somwarbi because such decision has to be official."

He further narrates upon his return from Nigeria, a letter was served from the Office of the Senator, informing him that Representative Somwarbi, as Chair of the Committee on Health had mandated him (David Sumo) to return the entity back to Status Code Anti, where the Human Resource Manager would take over until an official appointment is announced.

"I really don't have a problem with that letter, because only the President has the power to appoint, but I wanted our people to be advised about certain action, as our current Human Resource Manager is a man of God, and he's not equipped [trained] sufficiently on drugs matter, taken into consideration our region is fragile due to the Tramadol and other substances.

If we don't involve scientists as part of the team, after my departure, we could lead to crisis; if there is a drugs-related disease outbreak in this country, lot of people would be affected; that is my concern", the embattled Acting LMHRA boss cautions.

He notes though it is a decision coming from the Office of the President, in his view, it wasn't prudent to ask the HR, who is a man of God, to take over such a crucial entity without the requisite education.

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