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NCRHA chairman quits

...'It was not an easy decision'

By Aabida Allaham aabida.allaham@trinidadexpress.com

AFTER two years in public office, chairman of the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA), Dr Ashvin Sharma has called it quits.

In an open letter published in another daily newspaper as a paid advertisement of the NCRHA, Sharma said the decision was not easy, but realistic given the issues with which he had to deal.

"The decision was not easy, but after dedicating two years towards public service at the expense of both my family life and professional practice, and after having survived veiled and not-so-veiled threats to my personal safety I decided that this was my only real option," the letter stated.

The letter further added that on October 8 he informed Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan of his decision requesting that they not renew his chairmanship.

Sharma went on to say that being in the public health sector has made him realise there is a need for change that can only be done by changing the laws that govern the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs).

"We need to acknowledge formally the failure of the present system. We need to understand the limitations that the RHAs work under. We need to change, spend, educate and reform in order to have any real improvement," the letter added.

When asked about Sharma's decision, the Health Minister said, "You can't make somebody stay."

"He wants to go...he has personal family commitments. In fact, during (the) protest (action taken by the Public Services Association last month), I understand his wife was targeted and he felt kind of unsafe and he decided that his family is much more important," Khan said.

Pressed for comment on the issues raised by Sharma in his letter, the minister could only say "one of the issues is how we do things" and they were working on that.

In an interview with the Express yesterday, Sharma said he has asked that his position not be renewed, and that he has not resigned.

"I have not resigned, I am still chairman. I simply asked not to be renewed when my term of office comes to an end on November 28," he said.

Meanwhile, president of the Medical Practitioners Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MPATT), Dr Shehenaz Mohammed, has described Sharma's departure as a great loss to the health sector.

"He was a chairman you could have worked with. He was always someone that would sit with you and try to work out something that was in the best interest of the patients, the staff and the hospital."

"It really is a great loss, but we wish him all the best in his future endeavors," she said.

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