Journalist-turned-Kerala Health Minister seeks to show she means business

Kerala’s first time Minister Veena George, who is in charge of health, is seeking to show that she means business and her agenda is to see that state’s health system is working properly, and tending to the patients.

To check this, the 45-year-old teacher-turned journalist-turned-legislator regularly turns up at state-run hospitals in the night and on Wednesday night, she came to the Medical College Hospital in the state capital.

Her first surprise visit to this hospital took place in October last year when she found out that things were amiss with its functioning, and after giving a dressing down to its authorities, she held several round of meetings to ensure that the man on the street benefits from state-run facilities.

In her surprise inspection late on Wednesday night, George went around the casualty and other wards to check if her previous instructions had been implemented and senior doctors were present on duty.

As she was moving around, a man came to her and complained to her that the fair price pharmacy shop in the hospital does not have medicines which the doctors prescribe.

George asked him to come along with her and she waited outside the pharmacy while telling him to go inside and ask for the medicines. When he gave the list, the staff there behaved in a rude manner with him and said there is no stock.

Soon George appeared and asked the staff what the problem was and then she went inside to check the stock of medicines.

Finding that several essential medicines were not in stock, she directed action be taken against those responsible for this state of affairs.

A political observer said George was the biggest surprise choice made by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as the new Health Minister after he won his second term, though she has had just one term as a legislator.

“Her biggest baggage was she succeeded K.K. Shailaja, who got huge publicity in the way the pandemic was handled when it began in March 2020. George was under tremendous pressure during the second and third wave of Covid when things in the state went haywire and even Vijayan who was appearing on television in the first wave of the pandemic appeared to have ducked the media. But George, she reinvented her style of work and the nearly 16 years of being a successful journalist, helped her to know what the common man wants from a Health Minister and she has done just that,” the observer said.

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