KOZHIKODE: The decision to leave out Health Minister KK Shailaja from the second Pinarayi Vijayan government has left healthcare workers in a state of utter shock and disbelief. Regardless of politics, no one thought that there was even a remote chance of the flagbearer of state’s healthcare system being dropped after the huge mandate secured by her.
“Until Shailaja took over as health minister, I hadn’t worked with such a capable minister. She didn’t behave like a superior. Through her intervention, Shailaja ensured two things — public convenience and work assessment,” said R L Saritha, former Director of Health Services (DHS), who had worked beside Shailaja during the Nipah outbreak and Covid. “Shailaja was a minister who was thorough with the issues at hand and she had a scientific temper,” reminisced Saritha, who was one of the woman faces of the health department under Shailaja ‘s watch.
A nurse working at Kozhikode Medical College Hospital said that she was shocked on hearing the news of Shailaja’s omission. “This is most unfortunate,” said the nurse, who requested anonymity.
Sheena K P, 39, Nursing Officer, Grade I, KMCH, said, “It is a political decision and as a citizen, I keep faith in the decision. Handling the Nipah and Covid outbreak through timely action and intervention helped Kerala ride out the tough times.”
Tinku Joseph, 36, department of pulmonary medicine, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, said,”I expected Shailaja teacher to be given a second term as Health Minister. But, the list of ministers in the new cabinet brought disappointment.” According to Abraham Varghese, former president, IMA Kerala, the move to replace Shailaja with a new face is not a smart one.
Shailaja’s omission proved a shocker for Sajeesh Puthur, husband of nurse Lini Puthusserry, who had died of Nipah in 2018. “Personally I feel sad. It was unexpected. She always found time to call up and enquire about our well-being. My kids were happy to speak to their ‘teacher aunty,” said Sajeesh.
Shimna Azeez, public health activist, said Shailaja was par excellence as health minister. “She led the health department in an exemplary manner. But I take the decision to drop her as a positive one. Perhaps, we may find another performer, a real leader in the next health minister,” she said.