Romania: Former Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu blasts Prime Minister in first appearance after his sacking

Romania: Former Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu blasts Prime Minister in first appearance after his sacking

Two days after being ousted by Florin Cițu, former Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu spoke out against the Prime Minister, who he said had become the country’s first epidemiologist and devalued the work of a whole team.

In an almost two-hour press conference at the USR-PLUS headquarters, to which he also invited doctor Andreea Moldovan who was also sacked, Voiculescu spoke about a series of mental conflicts during his 113 days in office and the deep politicization of his entire system, which reacts when disturbed.

He complained that Florin Cîțu did not have “even one talk” with him about what he had accused him of after his expulsion, adding that “what the Prime Minister did with the team at the Ministry of Health is a misery:  Not only inappropriate, but also immoral and politically miserable,” he said.

Vlad Voiculescu thanked all those on the front line, doctors, nurses, ambulance staff and his team. He expressed his gratitude to Ms. Andrea Moldovan who described as an excellent professional before giving her the floor.

The former Undersecretary stressed that she particularly appreciated that she was not selected on political grounds but because of her professional knowledge. She expressed hope that the programs she launched would continue and, as for the decree on the imposition of quarantine, she clarified that this had been the subject of high-level discussions for two consecutive days, in the presence of the head of the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) Adriana Pistol and Raed Arafat. The plan was unanimously approved, I didn’t act unilaterally, it was a team effort, she argued.

Vlad Voiculescu stressed that he was constantly in conflict with opposing mentalities, but that was also the reason why we entered politics, he said; to change mentalities.

Among other things, he said he still fears for the people of this country, whom politicians see only as voters, but also for the people within the system. He stated that the Prime Minister reigned himself the first epidemiologist in the country, while later he added that Florin Cîţu is not the Prime Minister that Romania needs at the moment. Voiculescu advised the Prime Minister, in his capacity as caretaker Minister of Health, to review the methodology of reporting deaths when the PNL was in power, because they did not depict, and to deal with the situation at Unifarm, where the largest robbery took place during the pandemic. To a relevant question, he stressed that he did not feel that Raed Arafat was sabotaging him.

He also spoke about horrifying weaknesses in the central institutions and in the province, highlighting in particular the inability to coordinate and the systemic deficiencies. He said he had received a collapsing health system, admitted some mistakes, condemned some politicians’ and part of the press’s stance, noting that the prime minister had abused his power for political motives. “I thought we were out of the epic era, but I was wrong about that too,” he said. (…) The opening of schools turned into a permanent “buck-passing” of responsibility to the Ministry of Health. The responsibility for evacuating the (hospital) Foișor clearly belonged to someone else, he said. I let these things go and I think I was wrong. At every step, anywhere you look in the health system, at every level you find people who were placed by one party or the other. Most positions in the Directorates of Public Health, in hospitals, are held by people appointed by political criteria, who obey political orders. This is the biggest problem in the health system right now.”

He then listed his work in the field of health, for burn victims, tests in schools and pharmacies, the increase in compensation for vaccination in private clinics, raising the ceiling for feeding patients in hospitals, the flu vaccine rollout, restoring the list of basic medicines, solving problems related to the supply of medicines and increasing the ICU beds to 1,687.

“At the same time,” said Voiculescu, “I froze, in the midst of the health crisis, the increased costs and expenses for the Press. I do not think we should have continued what happened last year.”

“There is a need for depoliticization,” said the former minister, “and the Ministry of Health tried to do that. (…) I will ask the caretaker Minister, who is also the Prime Minister, to review the data on deaths in COVID hospitals. The research we started highlights big differences between the data reported and the actual data. This and the situation at UNIFARM, which received 1.2 billion by urgent government decree, constitute two issues that need to be clarified, especially because they are linked to the party that supports the prime minister.”

Voiculescu also stated that the decree signed by Undersecretary Andreea Moldovan with the new criteria for quarantine did not need the approval of the CNSU. It is just a pretext, he said. Dr. Moldovan explained the procedure, the former health minister said in a press conference in Parliament.

Asked why he did not sign the decree and why the Prime Minister was not informed about the matter, he said that quarantine was not the responsibility of the Ministry of Health (…) and that the Prime Minister should have been informed by the head of DSU, Raed Arafat.

He also said that Alexandru Rafila had disappointed him personally and that the complaints he received were related to communication, referring to a media lynching for months. /ibna