Is Dr. Jalila Actually the Health Minister?

2022-07-14 - 2:52 p

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Does it really mean much that Dr. Jalila Sayed Jawad is now the Minister of Health? Will she really be given the freedom to implement her vision and correct the imbalances in medical services and care for Bahraini cadres?

Many questions can be posed, but it must be highlighted first that these questions are not about Minister Jalila as a person but about the political system set in the country in general, which puts complete political power in the hands of the ruling family.

Since its establishment by royal decree in 2013, the Supreme Council of Health has been headed by Dr. Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa. The council is considered the supreme body that develops policies in the medical field and follows up on their implementation.

It is true that the Minister of Health, as a position, acts as a vice president; however, the policies of the Council are drawn up by Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, Commander of King Hamad University Hospital Salman bin Ateyatalla Al Khalifa  and Commander of the Royal Medical Services Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, making the position of minister an honorary position or at minimum an implementer of these policies. 

In fact, the minister cannot impose new policies that the Council, which is controlled by members of the Al Khalifa family, does not want, nor, of course, review the policies imposed by the Council nearly 10 years ago.

Many discriminatory policies, for example, on which the ruling family is based, cannot be changed by the Minister unless there is a real will by the family to make change, not to mention the appointments of ministers it wants here or there. 

In 2012, late Sadiq Al-Shihabi was appointed as a Health Minister, succeeding Minister Fatima Al-Balushi, but nothing changed with regard to policies of preference for foreigners and the exclusion of Bahrainis, until at least 500 doctors ended up unemployed, according to Shura Council member Ahmed Al-Arrayed. 

This number, in addition to the number of unemployed nurses, radiologists, physiotherapists and others, is a serious test of the family's desire to make a difference through which the issue of the unemployed in medical services, some of whom have been unemployed for more than 10 years or had to work in private medical centers for low salaries, can be resolved. 

Not only that, the training issue is also one of the problems that worry Bahraini doctors, as the process of scholarships is not based on transparent and fair grounds, and the number of scholarships and doctors who are chosen for specializations are not officially announced.

These policies deny Shiite doctors opportunities to study specializations, while other doctors enjoy opportunities to receive scholarships by the Ministry of Health or hospitals run by the Bahrain Defence Force.

All of these observations are applied to the nomination process of the heads of health centers and department managers in Salmaniya Medical Complex or the directors of departments in the ministry, where the minister does not supervise the nomination process, but is done by Undersecretary Walid Al-Manea with the authorization of the Supreme Council of Health. 

So what does it mean to be a health minister in the first place, while the military runs the country's two newest medical institutions, and the minister has nothing left to do in their position? 

Salman bin Ateyatalla heads the King Hamad University Hospital, while Commander of the Royal Medical Services Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa runs the Bahrain Defence Force Hospital.

It is not a secret that the two institutions, being affiliated to the army, do not recruit Shiites graduates, as Shiites are prohibited from working in the military or its institutions.

Hence, it's not about Dr. Jalila or anyone else being appointed as minister of health, or Mohammed Mubarak bin Dina being the oil minister, as long as Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the king's son, is the president of NOGA which controls the oil sector and so on and so forth. 

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