GROUNDUP: Health department boss calls for investigation into Glenda Gray

GROUNDUP: Health department boss calls for investigation into Glenda Gray

2020-05-22 07:46:00 PM

GROUNDUP: Health department boss calls for investigation into Glenda Gray

But leading scientist comes out in defence of MRC president. By Liezl Human and Nathan Geffen

.Dr. Anban Pillay, the acting director-general of the Health Department, has requested an investigation into the conduct of Dr. Glenda Gray, the president of the Medical Research Council (MRC), claiming that she has “made a number of false allegations against government”.

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These concerns were described in a letter dated 21 May written by Pillay, addressed to Professor Johnny Mahlangu, chairperson of the MRC.ReadThe letter states that allegations Gray has recently made in the media “are damaging to Government’s response to Covid-19”.

This comes after aninterviewwith News24 in which Gray is quoted criticising the government’s lockdown approach as “unscientific”. Gray is quoted saying that it seems as if government is “sucking regulations out of their thumb and implementing rubbish”.

“These media statements cause confusion … and are likely to erode public support for behaviour change” the letter reads.Pillay also states that he has received calls about Gray’s conduct as president of the MRC on matters other than her statements to the media.

“I therefore recommend that the Board investigates the conduct [of Gray] on this matter given the harm it has caused to South Africa’s Covid-19 response,” wrote Pillay.Lwazi Manzi, spokesperson for the Health Department, did not respond to queries or answer calls by the time of publication. Neither Mahlangu nor Gray wished to comment.

Professor Linda-Gail Bekker, a leading medical researcher based at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, has come out in support of Gray, describing her as a “national treasure”. She said that Gray had raised important issues for the “common good” and in the “best interest of the country”. The response should not be a witch-hunt but a discussion so that the government, including the Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize, can find the best way to respond to the epidemic. She emphasised that scientists must have the freedom to speak their minds.

Scientists must be allowed to express their views. We cannot afford witch-huntsBy Nathan Geffen, GroundUp EditorI don’t agree with everything raised by Glenda Gray in her interview with News24 (and it’s not clear if she was quoted accurately in all respects). It seems she made at least one factual error. But some of the points she made are spot-on and important contributions to the debate on how we respond to Covid-19.

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Gray is a highly respected scientist and she should feel free to speak her mind, to criticise, without fear of losing her position as the head of the MRC. Of course she should also expect to be criticised in response, and Minister Mkhize has written an emphatic response to her criticisms, as he is entitled to do.

But Anban Pillay’s letter is troubling.First, this appears to be improper interference. The MRC is a statutory body, but its Board must have independence from government.Second, Pillay wrote: “Subsequently, I have also received calls from persons regarding Prof Gray’s conduct at the MRC on other matters which I will share once I receive more details from them.” This suggests the health department is willing to dredge up staff grudges against Gray, which exist in any large organisation, to try to get rid of her.

If Pillay succeeds in getting rid of Gray, it will not only result in the MRC losing the services of a first-class scientist, it will likely damage the morale of the institution for a long time to come. It will also alienate leading public health experts, many of whom are sympathetic to Gray, from government. We cannot afford that during this pandemic.

In 2001, an MRC study on mortality was leaked to the media. The study showed how HIV was killing hundreds of thousands of South Africans. The report was one of the most important published in the MRC’s history and it contributed to ultimately changing government policy for the better in 2003.

But its findings conflicted with the AIDS-denialist ideology of then President Thabo Mbeki and his health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. So they pursued a witch-hunt for the leaker of the document.There are similarities with what’s happening now. In both situations, instead of engaging with the content of what emanated from the MRC, the government opted for revenge.

I don’t want to overstate the similarities though. President Ramaphosa and Health Minister Mkhize are trying very hard to respond to the Covid-19 crisis even though government is making mistakes. So a comparison with Mbeki and Tshabalala-Msimang is not entirely fair. Also Covid-19, because of the speed at which it’s unfolding and our lack of knowledge about it, is a much harder problem to deal with than AIDS was in 2001, when the solutions were relatively straightforward. What needs to be done now is not at all obvious and reasonable people, like Gray and Mkhize, will disagree with each other.

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But those disagreements are not necessarily a problem, even if they reach the public domain. On the contrary, this is an opportunity for a healthy public debate. Mkhize, Pillay and the other people in charge of the country’s response to Covid-19 need to participate in that debate, with thicker skins, and without rancour.

Read more: Daily Maverick »

As a health professional, our professional body must also investigate her. She literally told a blatant lie about malnutrition stats to further a political agenda. It’s unethical and unbecoming of a doctor Instead of listening to the experts, we create a witch hunt and try to vilify them, especially when they don't tow the party line. Makes perfect sense in a dictatorship state but not in a 'Democracy!' Show comparative figures for the last 40 years, and we may believe this is ok.

reminiscent of the defamed medical researcher judymikovitz ? Investigate Abdool. And investigate the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation! Plandemic ArrestBillGates Agenda21 Agenda2030 PopulationControl VaccineAgenda ID2020 NWO SouthAfrica OpenTheEconomy endthelockdownsa The ANC used the same tactics to achieve 'state capture'.

We need an investigation into the fact that STILL, in 2020 Life Esidimeni patients are missing! We need an investigation why our healthcare system failed with the best doctors and hospitals Apartheid provided. We need to investigate the corruption in the healthcare department When people (ANC) are caught out they lynch the messenger of truth! fuck

F*** the ANC F*** the Minister of health !!!? Same same, kill a few 100 000 here, another million there, whatever hey.. and people say Hitler was Mad and Bad 🤔 What craziness is this? Tbh her choice of words could have been better.... She's absolutely right on the being no scientific basis for some of the regulations, but she did mess up with malnutrition bits and should own up to that. First article said

Well I for 1 stand with Dr Gray and any other medical professional's who stands up to the false narrative that our NCCC is telling South Africans. PresidencyZA and DrZweliMkhize best get some facts before persuing a witch hunt against Dr Gray. If we allow politicians to silence sensible scientist's who still have knowledge and common sense we are on the road to tyranny.

Just like they tried with ProfTimNoakes and failed Don’t let petty politicians and their tame journalists bully you!! IStandWithGlenda A powerplay by Gov not being able to intellectually interact with academics and professionals of industry. 😤 And they want to run a new public health system after destroying the current one and this is how they behave

Because she is exposing governments stupidity. If she offered a differing opinion then this is uncalled for and overboard, but if she outright told lies... Is this NDoH’s letterhead? It's the health department that should be investigated. 👇👇👇👇👇👇👇👇👇👇👇 Is this letter even legit? No signature. The header isn’t a proper header? And why mention that you have information without providing details? If it’s been put on a letter then it’s intent is to be formal, but then why include “I have some information.” Strange.

Typical MYANC - they can't handle anybody with credibility who critizises government. This response is typical of civil servants accused of wrongdoing who then try and smear their accusers to cover their tracks. After 26 years of total incompetence corruption looting littering Guptas Escom SAA TRANSNET municipalities education!!!...!!GLENDA HOW COULD YOU😂😂😂

atkinsmike1 Ludicrous More like the Nat's every day African Communist Party must be investigated Why no StateCapture arrests? Why have 230 000 people been arrested for Lockdown violations but not Cadre is inside on theft, fraud or conspiracy to commit treason charges? John Block almost out! Health department boss who has never amounted to shit in life, suddenly finds a false sense of power and security amongst communist Monsters posing as ministers.. Time will catch you up and you will be eaten by your own. JUST LIKE JACOB

Support Prof Gray all you want, but must she be allowed to purvey damaging statements to critical work of others on the basis of inaccurate anecdotal information and not be made to account for that🤔 IStandWithProfGray endthelockdownSA dlaminizumamustfall To be expected; oppose MYANC publicly and you automatically in their direct line of fire, and then quickly investigated with loads of other allegations thrown into the mix

dlaminizumamustfall Looks like CyrilRamaphosa is trying to censor scientists, especially since everyone has been begging for transparency, is the MYANC following China's lead in concealing the truth? GovernmentZA eroded public trust all by themselves. Gray is quoted saying that it seems as if government is “sucking regulations out of their thumb and implementing rubbish” Pretty sure most of the country will support that

Is there anything to be read into the name of the complainant?

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Mkhize: Gray’s comments were unprofessional, unfounded and unbecomingHealth Minister Zweli Mkhize has dismissed the criticism and comments made by Professor Glenda Gray You got caught with your pants down and didn't expect the experts to speak out against what you not doing...so please go bark up another tree.... As long as you tow the party line, you're OK. The MYANC GovernmentZA doesn't need advice, they demand absolute loyalty. Echoes of historic German nationalism? His whole credibility