Health secretary Dr Aumea Herman pictured here at a 2018 health conference on Rarotonga. She submitted her resignation this week to the Public Service Commissioner. 18071216
Concerns raised over sudden resignation of Secretary of Health amid Covid-19 crisis.
Secretary Dr Josephine Aumea Herman has “resigned” from her role but will see
out her three-year term which ends in February 2021.
Service Commissioner Russell Thomas said he yesterday accepted the resignation
letter of Dr Herman.
initially taking up this post in February 2018, Thomas said Dr Herman had
indicated to him of her intention to only serve one term as the head of the
Herman will vacate her position in February, 2021, he added.
did not respond to an email seeking clarification and reasons behind the
Islands News also emailed Dr Herman, who is in Auckland, for comments and
Health spokesperson Jaewynn McKay last night said: “Dr Aumea has no comment to make to the media at this stage”.
Health spokesperson Sel Napa said Dr Aumea Herman’s resignation from heading
the Ministry of Health was a huge loss to the country.
“Especially at this
critical time when she has been leading the country’s Covid-19 response and
with her staff, has managed to keep our country Covid free up until now,” Napa
Opposition believes Dr Herman’s resignation is connected to Cabinet’s recent decision
to lift supervised quarantine on international arrivals.
It earlier stated the health ministry does not support the move but “being a government agency has to roll with it because their argument against removing quarantine has been overridden by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet”.
Minister Mark Brown had refuted these claims and said as with all Cabinet
decisions, these were informed by advice provided by Government officials.
he did not reveal the advice his Cabinet received from the Health ministry in
regards to the lifting of supervised quarantine requirement on arrival.
said: “As a public servant, Dr Josephine Aumea Herman’s role as Secretary of
Health is to offer advice and then carry out Cabinet’s decisions.”
yesterday said: “Dr Herman is the only person in this country, the only Cook
Islander who specialises in viruses and pandemics. So, if the government hasn’t
been listening to her advice, as the only expert in this field, we should all
be extremely concerned.”
Commissioner Russell Thomas acknowledged the
tremendous contribution that Dr Herman has made to modernise and improve the
country’s health services. “Her leadership in strengthening the resilience of
our public health systems in protecting us from pandemics like the measles
outbreak in the region and dampening the increase in dengue numbers must be
applauded. The fact that there are zero Covid-19 cases in the Cook Islands is
testament to her determination to set up robust and resilient national response
measures to Covid-19,” Thomas said.
with our communities, by placing health clinics in each Puna on Rarotonga has
further demonstrated her ability to identify opportunities to enable our local
communities to participate in designing solutions to look after their health.
endeavours to restructure the organisation and provide clear career pathways
for TMO employees deserves recognition.”
added Dr Herman’s comprehensive network with medical professionals of Cook
Islands descent residing in New Zealand like Dr Ted Hughes and Mr John Dunn had
enabled ordinary Cook Islanders to benefit from their expertise and skills.
Cook Islands health services has also benefitted from professional support from
Herman’s Pasifika medical colleagues in New Zealand including the Pasifika
Commissioner will soon begin the process of recruiting a replacement for Dr
Herman before the end of the month.