5 Sep 2013

Vanuatu government tries to remove WHO official

7:15 pm on 5 September 2013

Vanuatu's deputy prime minister, Edward Natapei, is asking the World Health Organisation's director general, Margaret Chan, to replace the current WHO liaison officer in Vanuatu, Dr Jacob Cool.

He is accusing Dr Cool of not supporting the government's policies for restructuring the health sector.

The Daily Post newspaper claimed Mr Natapei wants Dr Cool gone because he did not consult the health minister Serge Vohor, before hiring an international team, including a Harvard professor, to advise the government.

Mr Natapei says Vanuatu has a sound relationship with the WHO and the government wants a replacement who can conform to Vanuatu's national processes and have respect for the government's authority.

But local reports say the push to remove Dr Cool has come from the newly appointed director general of health, Dr Santus Wari, who earlier this week suspended his three most senior subordinates.