Main reason for Stepanov's dismissal is disruption of vaccination campaign – Shmyhal
The main reason for the dismissal of Health Minister Maksym Stepanov is the disruption of the vaccination campaign against coronavirus (COVID-19) disease, Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal has said.
"The main reason for the dismissal statement is the unsatisfactory pace of vaccination and vaccine supplies, in fact, the constant postponement of their dates," he said at a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Health, Medical Assistance and Medical Insurance.
Shmyhal said that the pace of vaccination testifies to the unsatisfactory work of the Ministry of Health and the Minister as a manager. He also noted that the collected 150 MPs signatures for the resignation of the minister played a role in the statement of Stepanov's resignation.
"It was impossible not to take into account this fact that representatives of almost all factions signed it. The government could not ignore the position of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in relation to the Minister of Health. Based on these positions, a corresponding statement was made," he said.
In turn, Stepanov stressed that the Ministry of Health began negotiations with leading vaccine manufacturers in July-August 2020, but at that time they put forward a condition that deliveries would take place no earlier than the end of 2021.
"We started negotiations with all the companies from the main list of vaccine manufacturers, but the first question we asked was the delivery time. The manufacturers said that it would be the end of the third quarter – the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2021. As Minister of Health, this did not satisfy me," he said.
For his part, Chairman of the Servant of the People parliamentary faction David Arakhamia stressed the existence of a conflict between Shmyhal and Stepanov.
"A minister is, first of all, a political position and this is a manager in the second place. There is a complaint that there is no normal dialogue with the Prime Minister. Everyone in the Verkhovna Rada and in the relevant committee knows this. If there is no normal productive dialogue with the immediate leader, then even the best initiatives of the Ministry of Health will be, so to speak, slowed down, they will not work normally," he said.
Arakhamia said that there were several attempts "to establish normal cooperation, as far as I know, the same situation is with the profile committee."
"It seems to me that in such conditions, one cannot even count on the fact that the work of the ministry under this head will proceed normally," he said.