Rabat – Morocco’s Head of Government Saad El Othmani appointed Khalid Ait Taleb as the new Minister of Health as part of the government reshuffle announced yesterday, October 9.
Ait Taleb was born in Agadir and graduated from the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy of Rabat. The 55-year-old is married and has two children.
Since the Hassan II University Hospital Center of Fez opened its doors in 2009, Ait Taleb acted as the general director of the hospital and the head of its visceral surgery department.
He is a commendable surgeon, according to his colleagues, who gave a statement to the French-language news outlet Le360.
“He is an excellent surgeon, the proof is that he has run the University Hospital of Fez for ten years,” the source said, also indicating that Taleb is a good manager.
Prior to his appointment as Minister of Health, Ait Taleb served briefly as the Acting Secretary General of the Ministry of Health after replacing Hicham Nejmi, who was dismissed from the position last month.
Turmoil in the public health sector
A new Minister of Health will come as a welcome change for the medical professionals and students who have been staging strikes since 2017.
Anas Doukkali became the Minister of Health in January 2018, and his mandate was marked by a series of protests led by the Independent Union of Public Doctors (SIMSP), public sector health professionals, and medical students from around the country.
SIMSP denounced the Ministry of Health for standing by while the public health sector deteriorated, and for excluding public sector health professionals from official negotiations and dialogue.
More than 1,000 public sector doctors resigned en masse during the series of demonstrations, demanding better pay, benefits, and working conditions.
Protesters also called for an end to unfair administrative and judicial proceedings, and demanded the integration of unemployed nurses and health professionals into the public health sector.
From March until August of this year, Moroccan students protested against poor medical training conditions and the government’s move to privatize medical education and services.
Medical, dentistry, and pharmaceutical students boycotted their final exams, which ultimately prompted the Ministries of Health and Education to reach an agreement with the National Commission for Medical Students.
Doukkali recently faced criticism from members of his former political party, the Progress and Socialism Party (PPS), for condemning the party’s unanimous decision to withdraw from the government October 1.
The current Minister of Health Khalid Ait Taleb is one of six newly appointed ministers that have emerged from the government reshuffle.