Mansukh Mandaviya appointed as new Union Health Minister
Following a major upheaval in the Union Cabinet on Wednesday, Mansukh Mandaviya was named the new Union Health Minister. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA administration has also entrusted Mandaviya with the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, in addition to the critical Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
After failing the litmus test of handling the covid-19 pandemic in the country, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan was replaced on Wednesday by Mandaviya. Mandaviya will be in charge of dealing with the ongoing covid-19 pandemic in terms of healthcare services and making medical equipment and medicines available, as well as Chemicals and Fertilizers.
Mansukh Mandaviya is a member of the Rajya Sabha representing Gujarat and holds a master’s degree in political science from Bhavnagar University. He has showed significant participation in the Pradhan Mantri Bharatiya Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana in terms of healthcare (PMBJP). He was also recently recognised for his contributions to women’s menstrual hygiene by UNICEF and others. He was sworn in as a Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping, and Chemicals and Fertilizers in the Indian government on July 5, 2016. In March 2018, he was re-elected to the Rajya Sabha for a second term as a Member of Parliament.
The position of health minister brings with it a slew of new responsibilities, particularly in the midst of the ongoing health crisis, when the already frail healthcare system is being pushed to its breaking point. At the same time, the country has already missed multiple health-related benchmarks and is now facing a third wave that threatens to destabilise the healthcare system even further. Harsh Vardhan’s removal from the major and nodal ministry in charge of the current covid-19 crisis comes as India prepares for the third wave of the pandemic.
The health ministry was chastised for every action made during the epidemic, from the mismanagement of the second wave to the distribution of covid-19 vaccinations to the statewide immunisation programme. Despite multiple answers from the minister, questions about the ministry’s operation persisted.
The portfolio of health minister Mansukh Mandaviya brings the newest of challenges especially during the ongoing health crisis, when the already crumbling healthcare system has been stretched to its limits. At the same time, the country has already missed several health targets and staring at the third wave that is ready to further wreck the healthcare infrastructure. Harsh Vardhan’s replacement from the key and the nodal ministry handling the ongoing covid-19 crisis comes at a time when India is staring at the third wave of pandemic.
The health ministry drew flak for every decision taken during the course of the pandemic ranging from mismanagement of the second wave, allocation of covid-19 vaccines to states to running nationwide vaccination drive. Despite several clarifications from the minister, doubts always prevailed over functioning of the ministry.
In an indirect admission of the failure of handling deadly covid-19 pandemic, Modi government changed the health minister for heavy lifting of crucial health ministry at current juncture. Removing Ashwini Kumar Chaubey, Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar has been given the charge of Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
“In a way, the government wants to send out a message that the minister who should be leading from the forefront during covid-19 pandemic, didn’t perform and has been shown the door. The government also removed the health minister to wash out the blot it had due to mismanagement of the second wave of covid-19 pandemic and to safeguard its international image,” said Sanjay Kumar Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.
“India has drawn criticism for mishandling the health crisis and all the countries including developing nations had to offer help during that time. Harsh Vardhan has been made a scapegoat and the Modi government has tried to secure votes in the next election,” he said.
Under continuous currents since inception of the pandemic, healthcare landscape of the country needs rigorous work and healing touch through a new union health minister and the ministers of state.